I joined BEM High School, Palakkad, for the academic year 1942-43 in 2nd Form. T N Seshan was studying in the same school right from Class 1 and used to top the class when it came to academic proficiency. From 2nd form till 5th form, I bagged the first place in general proficiency and Seshan used to come second.
The competition between us in academics was fierce but we were still good friends. Being short in stature in those days, he used to sit in the front bench, while I was always in the last row. In the SSLC examination in 1947, he came first with an aggregate of 452 marks and I was second with 451 marks.
While studying in BEM High School, I excelled in academics as well as in sports such as football, while Seshan was always book-bound. But he had a rare flair for the English language.
Both of us were again together in the Government Victoria College, Palakkad, for Intermediate from 1947 to 1949 and we were the only two students automatically selected for engineering in Madras Presidency for that year. I joined the Government College, Kakinada, for my engineering studies, while Seshan wanted to follow his elder brother T N Lakshminarayan into IAS. To prepare for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam, he joined the Madras Christian College for B.A.(Hons.) in Physics.
As probationers, both of us trained together for two months in the Indian Forest College, Dehradun.
Thereafter he pursued his IAS career and retired as Cabinet Secretary in December 1989. He then became the Chief Election Commissioner of India, a role for which he is widely remembered now.
I pursued my Railway Service and retired as Member Engineering, Railway Board in 1990. We had very little contact with each other during our official career and even after retirement.But I still fondly remember the fierce competition between Seshan and me in our studies. This, I believe, was responsible for my excellent academic performance in high school and Intermediate.
The author is the Principal Adviser,
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC)