Approachable administrator with a flair for literature

CHENNAI: Moosa Raza, the former chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir and prominent educationist who passed away in Chennai on Wednesday was not only a distinguished IAS officer and fire-fighter for the government but also a polyglot who made important contributions to literature.

Fluent in Persian, Urdu, Arabic and English among other languages, the 87-year-old, a Padmabhushan awardee, had translated the 19th century poet Mirza Ghalib’s 500 Persian couplets into Urdu and English. The book, ‘Smile on Sorrow’s lips,’ was published in 2015.

Raza was also a supporter of Sanskrit language. In an interview to TNIE in 2015, he termed Sanskrit as the “mother of most European languages”. Proficiency in the language could “unlock” literary treasures, science and philosophy buried in its literature, he opined.

Born in Villupuram district on February 27, 1937, Raza graduated in English literature from Madras Presidency College and later cracked IAS exam. He rose to become principal secretary to the Gujarat chief minister and later appointed as chief secretary of militancy-affected Jammu and Kashmir in the late 80s.

He was also appointed as the chief negotiator to deal with the kidnappers of Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of then union home minister Mufti Muhammed Sayeed, in December 1989. Raza’s last published book ‘ Kashmir, Land Of Regrets,’ details his experiences as an administrator in Jammu and Kashmir.

Former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami praised Raza as not just a good writer but an able administrator. “His book on Kashmir is unique and informative for young bureaucrats as it details how he was able to resolve issues by reaching out to villagers. It shows how officers have to be accessible to be effective — a trait he possibly picked up as an IAS officer in Gujarat,” Gopalaswami, who has also served in that western state, said.

A long-time friend of Raza, Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali recalled his multi-faceted personality, including that of an educationist (chairman of the SIET trust which runs educational institutions) and a man of principles who had a great sense of humour.

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