CHENNAI: Keshav Desiraju (66), former Union health secretary and the grandson of former President Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan died due to cardiac arrest in Chennai on Sunday morning.
He passed away on ‘Teacher’s Day’, which is celebrated in honor of his grandfather and former President of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
Born on May 11th 1955, he completed his Masters in Economics from the University of Cambridge and also held another Masters degree in Public Administration from John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Desiraju was an IAS officer from the 1978 batch of the Uttarakhand cadre.
Desiraju has served in the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to the Government of India in different capacities for nearly 4 years, having joined as Additional Secretary in April 2010 and promoted to Special Secretary in April 2012.
He retired as the Union secretary in the Department of Consumer Affairs in 2013 after working in several state and Union governments in various roles.
Post-retirement, he continued to remain engaged with issues in public health, particularly mental illness and mental health, primary health care and community health, and served on the board of several non-profit organizations.
Mrinalini Ravi, deputy director-partnerships at The Banyan (where Desiraju was a trustee) said that he was the architect of India’s first National Mental Health Policy.
Popularly known as the architect of the definitive National Mental Health Policy 2016, Mr Desiraju pushed for inclusive mental health systems, steeped in values such as equity & social justice, participatory & rights-based approaches and good governance, every step of the way.— The Banyan (@banyanbalm) September 5, 2021
He was also instrumental in putting together India’s Mental Healthcare Act of 2017.
Keshav had also co-edited Healers or Predators? Healthcare Corruption in India with Samiran Nundy and Sanjay Nagra.
He also has the credit of writing the biography of Carnatic singer MS Subbulakshmi called Gifted Voice: The Life and Art of M.S. Subbulakshmi.
ormer Union minister Jairam Ramesh expressed condolence over the civil servant’s death. “My dear, dear friend for 57 years, Keshav Desiraju, a most outstanding civil servant has just passed away. What a tragic irony that he left us on the day the country marks the birthday of his grandfather. Keshav has written the definitive biography of M S Subbalaksmi,” Ramesh tweeted.
My dear, dear friend for 57 years, Keshav Desiraju, a most outstanding civil servant has just passed away. What a tragic irony that he left us on the day the country marks the birthday of his grandfather. Keshav has written the definitive biography of M S Subbalaksmi.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) September 5, 2021
Known to have a clean reputation, several leaders and civil servants expressed their condolences over the passing away of the Keshav Desiraju. His forefathers hail from Bapatla in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. There is also a street named Desiraju Vari Veedhi there, where many of his relatives still stay. He is survived by two sisters and a brother and his final rites will be held on Monday.