“Through The Broken Glass: An Autobiography” is a book written by T.N. Seshan, the former Chief Election Commissioner of India, who played a significant role in shaping Indian elections. The book was published by Rupa Publications India and shares his life journey, including his term as the Chief Election Commissioner from 1990 to 1995. It’s a 368-page autobiography released four years after his passing in 2019.
At the beginning of his career, he worked as a sub-collector in Dindigul and later as a collector in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. T.N. Seshan is also known for writing another book called “An Undocumented Wonder: The Making of the Great Indian Election.” These books offer valuable insights into his remarkable contributions and experiences in transforming the Indian electoral system.
More About the Book
In his autobiography, T.N. Seshan, the former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India, covers his time in the government, including his tenure as the CEC. Some aspects of his personality and actions during his career are described, and he is portrayed as a stern and principled figure, often associated with the stereotype of a self-righteous South Indian Brahmin, particularly a Tamil Brahmin.
- The book delves into his experiences as a bureaucrat for over three decades before he assumed the role of CEC in 1990.
- It details his journey from being a sub-collector in Dindigul to a collector in Madurai.
- One notable incident from his early career was when he had a confrontation with Sheikh Abdullah, who was under arrest and located in the Madurai district.
- As the collector, he had the responsibility of reading the letters written by Abdullah.
- However, when Abdullah wanted to send a letter to President S. Radhakrishnan without it being read, Seshan refused, leading to Abdullah’s fast unto death.
- Eventually, Seshan read the letter, which turned out to be innocuous and formal, leading Abdullah to break his fast.
- The book seems to focus more on his time as a government official and less on providing deeper insights into the people and processes he encountered during his long bureaucratic career. Instead, it offers a detailed account of his time in various administrative roles and how he handled challenging situations.
About T.N. Seshan
- Name: Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan
- Born: December 15, 1932, Palakkad, Kerala
- Died: November 10, 2019, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
- B.Sc. in Physics, Madras Christian College, Chennai (1954)
- Post-graduate diploma in management, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (1968)
- Indian Administrative Service (IAS), 1955
- Collector of Madurai district, 1964
- Secretary to the Atomic Energy Commission, 1971
- Joint Secretary, Department of Space, 1972
- Cabinet Secretary, 1989
- Chief Election Commissioner of India, 1990-1996
- Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service (1996)
- Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award (1998)
Seshan’s Legacy as Chief Election Commissioner
T.N. Seshan was an Indian civil servant who served as the 10th Chief Election Commissioner of India from 1990 to 1996. He is best known for his role in cleaning up the Indian electoral system and introducing a number of reforms, such as the introduction of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
Seshan’s reforms were not without controversy. He was often at odds with politicians, who accused him of overstepping his authority. However, he remained undeterred and continued to fight for electoral reform.
Seshan’s tenure as Chief Election Commissioner was a watershed moment in Indian electoral history. He helped to clean up the system and make it more democratic. His reforms have had a lasting impact on Indian politics and have helped to make the country’s elections more free and fair.
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What are some of the reforms that T.N. Seshan introduced as Chief Election Commissioner?
The introduction of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)
The ban on the use of money and muscle power in elections
The introduction of the Model Code of Conduct
The staggered election schedule
The increase in the number of polling stations
The introduction of the postal ballot