Friday, May 31, 2013

In spite of all hardships .. Jiji Thomson ..

This piece of writing is meant to introduce Shri. Jiji Thomson IAS, to the youngsters of the country.
Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion . Georg Hegel
Jiji Thomson is a name most of us back in Kerala recollect very fast, mostly for the right reasons. He has been a known figure in Kerala for a long time because he is in elite company, being from the Indian Administrative Services and known to be a proactive personality. After completing his MA (Economics) from Trivandrum, he joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1980 in the Kerala cadre.
Jiji Thomson - pic courtesy The Hindu
Usually civil servants are considered to be capable of doing great service for the society and the people. (we too can do it wherever we are in what small position it is..) At some point in life, due to preoccupations or some hiccups in their career, these top civil servants consider giving their best to society to be not in their personal interests and withdraw into a cocoon. But there are certainly exceptions to that !!
Here you are going to find a person totally different, always looking for opportunities to interact with people, passionate to take on challenges and responsibilities, wanting to do more and more good for the society and the people, with an abundant resource of untapped energy for the society. What an ideal "civil servant" should be ! True to the word, very humble and approachable too .. Every time you meet him he is energised and enthused as never before..
Right from his initial stints as sub-collector of Alleppey, Kerala, 1983, (I was doing Engineering at TVM and used to visit my parents at Alleppey, Kerala. Used to visit his office-cum-residence and be amazed and taken aback by the cheer, discipline and passion with which he works, interacting so effortlessly with people big and small, rich and poor, patiently listening to them, helping them dispose their files ), Shri. Jiji Thomson used to be a popular figure then.
Besides popularising the Nehru Trophy boat race at Alleppey, he was instrumental in conducting a "community marriage" for as much as 142 people (71 couples) in Alleppey in the early eighties ! From there it went on to the cultural, social scenes in Palghat as District Collector when he revived the Kalpathy Carnatic music festival and conducted many camps for the physically handicapped by implanting Jaipur foot. In Kerala, Jiji Thomson's contribution to the socio-cultural-literary scene has been very interesting, diverse, eye-catching, eventful, varied and colourful, spanning the entire socio-cultural-literary-economic-sports scene of contemporary Kerala.
Jiji Thomson was the Convener of the first National Games held in Kerala with corporate sponsorship in 1987. The events were for the first time held at different towns and cities in the state of Kerala, networked through technological innovations with the help of Keltron. (His discipline also saw him submitting the final audited accounts in exactly a months time after the games, generating an overall profit of about Rs. 65 lakhs, again a first of it's kind in the country). This caught the attention of the then PM, Rajiv Gandhi who invited him to take over as the DG of Sports Authority of India then, which Jiji politely refused. He had loads of work left to be done ..!
Throughout his life he has decorated various bureaucratic positions in energy, agriculture, tribal welfare, sports and youth affairs, transport etc., gained invaluable experience and is now an Additional Secretary to the Government of India, (just short of a full blown Secretary), presently posted in the Ministry of Youth Affairs, New Delhi. From March, 2013 he has taken over as the Director General of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), New Delhi. If God so desires, he is next in line to get the Chief Secretary posting in Kerala !!
One of his "noble and worthy" accomplishments which will be remembered by the country for all time, is the successful execution of the Common Wealth Games (CWG) in Delhi in 2010. When the original organising committee had bungled under the leadership of the now discredited Suresh Kalmadi, when there were just three months left for the games to start, the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Sports Minister asked Shri Jiji Thomson along with two other senior IAS officers to take over the running of the CWG from Kalmadi and team and successfully execute it.
Jiji Thomson who was in charge of Transportation, Catering and Media during CWG, did his tasks well and brought laurels to the country as did the entire team. People in Delhi still very fondly  remember the transport and smooth traffic arrangements in Delhi during the games and are full praise for that.
Out of initial inexperience, in the early 90s, he got dragged into a case while working as the MD of the Civil Supplies Corporation in Kerala. Though he has been exonerated by the court of any wrong doing, he continues to be a victim of petty politics in Kerala between the major political parties of the state. He understands that these are some of the pains, trials and tribulations of holding high office in our land. One just has to patiently and quietly sit through all these trials in life, without losing hope that good, noble intentions will never go unnoticed.
An eloquent, motivating and inspiring speaker, right from the the school and Balajana sakhyam (Malayala Manorama) days, Jiji Thomson is a very simple and sincere person, with a pleasing personality, known for sticking to time, performance and exacting work standards and ethics. A born orator, he has also been decorating many stages as spiritual speaker for the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church within the country and abroad and is one of its most celebrated ambassadors.
(Listen to his celebrated speech delivered at the 14 th Mar Osthathios Lecture on the occasion of 94 th birthday celebrations of Geevarghese Mar Osthathios Thirumeni at Bethany Aramana, Tiruvalla, Kerala on 13 Dec, 2011(from 44 th minute..) in Malayalam) ..
Shri. Jiji Thomson practices what he preaches to his level best in his daily life. That is indeed difficult .. The ease, confidence and humility with which he carries himself is something worth taking note of. His greatest quality I feel, is that he is a very patient listener and that is his success too.. 
Widely traveled around the world, well read and with higher educational qualifications from UK, he is a good role model for the youngsters of how sincerity to the task, truth, honesty and a deep spiritual life can take one to great heights, no matter whatever be the minor hurdles in life. 
Already having given lyrics to a Malayalam film, given lyrics and released an audio Gospel CD and two books getting ready to be released soon, he is a budding litterateur too, multi-faceted. Married to my cousin sister, he has two loving daughters. Both of them are married off quite comfortably. He is already a doting grandfather of three smart, lively grandchildren ..
Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us. - Wilma Rudolph
His life reminds us this strong conviction : each one of us has the potential to be great. Be humble, prayerful, modest and simple. Love your fellow beings, friends and the less fortunate in society, pray for them.

Wish him many more years of service to the nation. Let him work without fear or favour and help take our nation forward. Let our youngsters learn from the life of Jiji Thomson and decide what to achieve in life.

Snaps of the visit to St Gregorios Cathedral, Bangalore 2 June, 2013.

The report of the message to the MGOCSM and youth of Bangalore ..

A more recent Sportstar writeup ..

george easaw.. (photo courtesy The Hindu..)


  1. Certain person in life once met never forgotten and Mr Thomson is one of them! He is a staunch supporter of the Orthodox faith and couple of times given messages in the Parish Church in London where his daughter lives with family.I do not know him personally but I can say he is approachable and have a listening ear ! I wish him well and his family.

  2. Dear achaya,
    Nice of you to write this comment. You may now how he is related. Pl talk to him next time he comes to London.

  3. Geokutty...!!! Now I know ... we're related too !!!

  4. Very nice article, Dr George.
    It was interesting to know that such personalities do exist even now.


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