Sharing responsibilities

IRDA chairman C S Rao vows to look into the regulations that are impractical to implement while taking steps to increase insurance penetration

Chellapilla Satyanarayana RaoChennai: Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) chairman Chellapilla Satyanarayana Rao assumed office when the country's leading life insurer, Life Insurance Corporation of India's (LIC) solvency was questioned by some. The new regulator passed the testing phase by clarifying that solvency margin is just a technical requirement and LIC is quite safe, thank you.

Rao does not find his small room at the third floor of Parisrama Bhavanam here claustrophobic. For, in his previous assignment as India's expenditure secretary, he used to sit behind a big table in a big room.

"Such changes are part of our lives. In the beginning of my career, after living in a big bungalow as sub-collector of Chittoor district, I was transferred to Srikakulam as a project officer, tribal development. I had to live in a small NGO [non-governmental organisation] quarters," he recalls. This is despite the fact that even today a district collector wields enormous power.

On the other hand he does vividly compare and contrast his current position — a high-profile one — with that of his previous job, that of a faceless government official. "Decision-making and enforcing regulations are common, whether in the government or as an authority. The decision-making process is also the same — building consensus among various stakeholders. So there is no difference between my previous job and the present one."

But he sees one difference. "The buck stops at me here, since the IRDA chairman is the final authority in the entire decision-making process." Ask him about the high points in his career as a civil servant, and he will first try to evade answering that question. Persuade him more, and Rao will cite three instances as the watermark in his long civil service career.