Keshav Desiraju (1955-2021): ‘New Psychological Well being Act was his child… nation’s psychiatrists owe loads to him’

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Former Well being Secretary Keshav Desiraju, who was actively concerned in vital points on public well being — particularly psychological well being — handed away on Sunday. He was 66.

A 1978-batch IAS officer from Uttarakhand cadre, Desiraju was the grandson of former President Dr S Radhakrishnan and served because the well being secretary between January 2013 and February 2014.

His tenure because the well being secretary was reduce brief by the Manmohan Singh authorities, and he was transferred as Secretary to the Shopper Affairs, Meals, and Public Distribution Ministry.

Desiraju, who additionally served because the particular secretary and extra secretary on the well being ministry, was identified for his integrity and honesty.

Nevertheless, it’s his contribution to psychological well being that is still his most important achievement.

Dr P Satish Chandra, the previous director and vice-chancellor of premier psychological well being institute NIMHANS, labored very intently with Desiraju. He stated the IAS officer performed an instrumental function in taking psychological well being and neurosciences to increased ranges — particularly the institute being designated as an institute of nationwide significance by Parliament.

“I’ve but to return throughout a easy, humble, honest, and hardworking secretary of that nature in my life. He was sincere to the core and really laborious working. That speaks volumes. That’s S Radhakrishnan’s blood, I’m certain,” Chandra stated.

“Desiraju had a terrific function in two areas of psychological well being in India. One of many main roles was within the NIMHANS. As a premier institute of psychological well being and neurosciences, he was instrumental in getting NIMHANS, the institute of nationwide significance. After all, the ministry performs an necessary and instrumental function, however from the paperwork standpoint, he has guided us and brought us by way of the entire occasion of getting us the institute of nationwide significance, which took virtually two years. I owe quite a lot of gratitude to his contribution to NIMHANS,” he stated.

Chandra stated the landmark Psychological Well being Act, 2017 handed by Parliament was personally and emotionally crucial to Desiraju.

“The Psychological Well being Act was a really previous laws enacted within the latter a part of the 1800s. That legislation was revised within the type of the brand new Psychological Well being Act and it has modified how we take a look at the sufferers. For the brand new legislation to return, Desiraju went by way of the entire side individually. In actual fact, he guided the entire manner with the psychiatrists. The Psychological Well being Act was truly… his child. He labored very laborious for that. I’ve seen myself, on a Sunday after I had gone to the ministry, sitting in his room dictating the provisions of the Act. The psychiatrists of this nation owe loads to him for this necessary achievement,” Chandra stated.

Desiraju’s switch had stirred controversy after many eminent personalities had raised considerations over the choice, together with Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy and Biocon chairman and managing director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. “The switch is in violation of the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court docket…whereby it was directed that within the pursuits of excellent governance, tenures of senior rating officers be made for 2 years…It’s subsequently, unlucky {that a} succesful and competent officer has been summarily eliminated and with out even following any process,” a letter to then PM Singh had said.

Nevertheless, the landmark Psychological Well being Act was not handed throughout Desiraju’s tenure. “I’m certain he would have gotten it handed at the moment, unlucky that he was transferred in a really fast manner for numerous different causes,” Chandra stated.

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