How does one salute, bid farewell to, and remember a man who touched many lives and things in his roles as a parent, public administrator, citizen, economics specialist, and a friend? It is difficult to do so, as one does not know where to begin and where to end, and especially at the time when he has just gone.
Mattoo Sahib was a Renaissance man. It was difficult to know his achievements when meeting him the first few times. He carefully hid them in a napkin to avoid them detracting from his humanity. He looked at once compassionate and child like. Difficult also it was to see that he was undergoing a long drawn out war with cancer. Later on, after knowing him more, one still wondered where were his emotional wounds, where were the scars of the immense and the excruciating struggle he was undergoing. His fighting resources were great, greater still was his humanity.
Mattoo Sahib was born in Kashmir in 1929 in a well to do family. After going through his schooling there in about 1948 he proceeded to Banaras Hindu University, at that time a preeminent educational institution in India. He pursued the study of engineering, which was a premium profession at that time. After graduation in about 1952 he joined his native state’s government as an electrical engineer. Going through for seven years in that job he either wanted to broaden his professional horizons or was less than happy with it. He undertook the national Indian Administrative Service examination in 1959 and was successful. This opened a new world in his life, started a new phase.
Following is an outline of his professional career after recruitment in IAS:
• As an IAS officer he held various magisterial positions in Allahabad, Moradabad, Faizabad, and New Delhi.
• In 1964 he was appointed District Commissioner for Chamba in Himachal Pradesh.
• From Chamba he moved to Simla and held senior administrative positions of Secretary Industries, Secreatary Forests, and Financial Commissioner.
• In 1980 he was appointed Advisor to the Commonwealth Secretariat and in that connection posted in Maseru, Lesotho (South Africa) for three years.
• In 1984 he was appointed Chief Secretary, Himachal Pradesh.
• In 1989 he retired but was immediately after that appointed Chairman, Public Service Commission, Himachal Pradesh.
• In 1994 he again retired but was appointed Advisor, Board For Industrial Reconstruction (BIFR).
• After retiring from BIFR he was appointed Member, Drug Prices Liability Review Committee (DPLRC). He held this Central Government secretary level position till 2005, when he finally retired at the age of 76.
Mattoo Sahib had developed expertise in developmental economics and other subjects and wrote four books about them:
1. Corporate Restructuring: An Indian Perspective (1998)
2. Microcomputer In Government – An Introduction (1992)
3. Project Formulations In Developing Countries (1990)*
4. Project Appraisal: A Third World Viewpoint (1978)
* This book is considered a benchmark in the subject and continues to sell steadily.
Today we grieve the loss of a beloved family member, an astute public servant, a compassionate, generous, and a very humble human being, tomorrow we will miss him. A special son of Kashmir, who did it proud in more than one way, is now immortal behind the mists of time. Many people think that the cancer which bedeviled Mattoo Sahib over a long haul of time finally won the war, but I think it was the other way. Mattoo Sahib won the war because of his tenacious patience, quiet vigor, and honorable fortitude. He showed us how to live creatively while in the grips of a lethal and debilitating disease. Out of all his virtues his humility came across the most strikingly, as apparently he did not think much of human achievements. Next was his compassion, which was eloquently written on his face, as perhaps he thought it was the highest thing we could give to others.
Mattoo Sahib passed away on April 25th in New Delhi India. The cremation was done right after that. He was seventy seven. He is survived by:
• Raj Karni Mattoo, his wife, who lives in New Delhi. (91.11.26895212)
• Sunil and Anita Mattoo, son and daughter-in-law, who live in Conn. Amrita and Radhika, grand daughters. (203.431.8361)
• Ranjana and Vijay Kaul, daughter and son-in-law, who live in New Delhi. Neha and Tara, grand daughters. (91.11. 26273012)
Written by Maharaj Kaul,
Suffern, New York, on 5.2.07,
on behalf of Mattoo family.