New Delhi: The softspoken SY Quraishi, who will take charge as chief election commissioner (CEC) Friday, says he will uphold the "immense trust the nation has in the Election Commission".
"I am honoured. I feel very proud. I request the cooperation of all stakeholders to discharge my duties," Quraishi, who will be the first Muslim to hold the prestigious post, said.
Quraishi, 63, who has been one of the three election commissioners since June 2006, will take over as CEC after the incumbent, Navin Chawla, retires Thursday. He will hold the post for two years, overseeing several important Assembly polls including in Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh.
He began his distinguished career as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Haryana cadre in 1971. He held several important posts at the Centre, including secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs, and director general, Doordarshan, before being appointed an election commissioner.
Mild mannered, but firm in his opinions, Quraishi is rated as an "ideal bureaucrat" by colleagues. "He has made us proud, especially as many former officials of the Haryana cadre have been controversial," said a Haryana cadre IAS official.
According to a former Haryana legislator, "Quraishi always tried to present objective views to ministers. But he was aware that a minister is the decision-maker."
Colleagues in Doordarshan remember him as an official who tried to "innovate in a complicated bureaucratic organisation".
"At heart, he was a communicator and an academic with an insight into social problems, gender issues and development," said a journalist on the media beat who covered his tenure at Doordarshan.
Born in Delhi, Quraishi graduated from the prestigious St Stephen`s College here. He did his post-graduation in history before joining the IAS. He did his doctorate in the role of communication and social marketing in the development of women and children.
The CEC designate, who held important posts in the health ministry, is considered an expert on HIV/AIDS, population issues, women and child development and gender issues. He also worked as special secretary in the health ministry and director general of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
Quraishi, who will be the first ever Muslim to hold the CEC post, has authored two notable research papers: "Islam, Muslims and family planning in India" and "Islam and AIDS".
He was appointed as the founder-director of the National Institute of Youth Development in Sriperumbudur in 1993, a post he held for four years.
A golfer, Quraishi has always taken interest in extra-curricular activities.
"But above all, he comes across as a polite human who is keen to learn," recalls a former official in the sports ministry.
Said an ex-colleague: "Quraishi will be able to handle the CEC`s post with his characteristic fair play."