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Sunday, 5 September 2021

Former Union Heath Secretary Keshav Desiraju Passes Away

 During his time working with the government, he played an important role during the drafting of the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016.

 Former Union Heath Secretary Keshav Desiraju Passes Away 

Keshav Desiraju. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


New Delhi: Keshav Desiraju, an IAS officer who formerly served as India’s Union health secretary, passed away on Sunday morning. He was 66.

Desiraju retired as Union secretary in the Department of Consumer Affairs. He had previously worked in a variety of roles – in the Union government as well as the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He also authored a book on legendary Carnatic singer M.S. Subbulakshmi, titled Of Gifted Voice: The Life and Art of M.S. Subbulakshmi. In 2018, he had co-edited a book with Samiran Nundy and Sanjay Nagral on corruption in the healthcare sector.

During his time working with the government, he played an important role during the drafting of the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016. After retiring as an IAS officer, Desiraju had continued to work on public health matters in India. He was on the governing board of the Population Foundation of India. He has also been credited with several awareness initiatives undertaken by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science.

Desiraju was the grandson of the first president of independent India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He passed away on his grandfather’s birth anniversary.

Several former colleagues and friends expressed their grief and shared memories of Desiraju on social media. “Keshav Desiraju, grandson of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, was loved and appreciated for his honesty and decency. This set him apart. He was a pillar of strength to many,’’ K. Sujatha Rao, who also served as Union health secretary at a later date, said.

 Congress leader Jairam Ramesh too fondly remembers his “great friend”.



Dr Prabha Chandra, a psychiatrist at NIMHANS, remembered his contributions to building the institution.



K. VijayRaghavan, principal scientific advisor to the Government of India, celebrated Desiraju’s ability to have cordial conversations with everyone, even if there was a difference of opinion. 




Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, remembered Desiraju as a remarkable human being.



 Many who had worked with Desiraju too talked about their experiences. 







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