THE demise of Sudeep Banerjee,Chancellor of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) and former Secretary of the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry,will come as a personal blow to Union Minister Arjun Singh. Closely associated with Singh for nearly three decades,Banerjee was largely considered the brain behind the education policies that Singh rolled out during his second stint at the HRD ministry. Banerjee passed away on Tuesday evening after a long battle with cancer.
The IAS officer served in several key positions when Singh was chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and their relationship went beyond the usual understanding that bureaucrats develop with their ministers. When Singh first became HRD minister in 1991 in the Narasimha Rao government,Banerjee was appointed Joint Secretary in the ministry. When Singh started his second innings as HRD minister in 2004,he brought back Banerjee as Additional Secretary Higher Education. Soon,Banerjee had the top job at the ministry.
Even after Banerjee retired in October 2006,Singh appointed him Advisor. He was later made Chancellor of NUEPA and put on several crucial committees examining education related issues. While he headed the CBSE chairman search-cum-selection committee last year,he was also a member of the Teachers Pay Review Committee that announced a big bounty for the teaching community in 2008.
I enjoyed working with him very much. He was very academic in his approach,gave full freedom on academic matters to the Commission and also had a good understanding of the academic world. He was also very aggressive about progress in the higher education sector, said UGC chairman Prof Sukhdeo Thorat.
Banerjee started his career first as a teacher in Ujjains Vikram Univeristy before joining the IAS in 1971. Known to be fond of poetry,Banerjee authored four books,three collections of poems and one play and even won the Shamsher Award and Bhavani Prasad Mishra Award for poetry. He has been on the board of several institutions related to education,including the International Literacy Institute,Philadelphia.