B Raman pays tribute to S E Joshi who passed into the ages on Friday.
S E Joshi, who served as Secretary (R) in the Cabinet Secretariat and in that capacity headed the Research & Analysis Wing from April 1986 to April 1987, passed away at Mumbai on the morning of February 3. Joshi, who was 83, had been ailing for some time.
He joined the Indian Police Service in 1952 and underwent training in the Central Police Training College in Mount Abu.
He was allotted to the Maharashtra cadre. After serving for some years in his parent cadre, he joined the Intelligence Bureau under the earmarking scheme as a joint assistant director. Under this scheme, officers who did exceptionally well in the CPTC were permanently taken into the IB after they had completed their field training in their parent cadre.
After serving for some years in different branches of the IB dealing with internal intelligence, he joined the Pakistan branch of the IB and served as an analyst as well as an operative. He was transferred to the R&AW when it was formed on September 21, 1968. He became a highly regarded Pakistan expert and served for a number of years as an analyst as well as an operative. He rose to be the head of the Pakistan Division of the R&AW with the rank of a joint secretary. In that capacity, he supervised the branches of the R&AW which dealt with operations as well as analysis. In 1984, he resigned from the IPS and was permanently absorbed in the R&AW.
In April 1986, on the retirement of G C Saxena, Joshi succeeded him as Secretary ( R). When he reached the age of superannuation in April 1987, Rajiv Gandhi, the then PM, wanted him to continue for one more year in recognition of his excellent record so that he had a total tenure of two years. Joshi declined to do so, on the ground that it would be unfair to his successor (A K Verma)
He was one of the finest operational officers -- a secret agent in the real sense of the term -- produced by the R&AW -- his speciality being Pakistan-related penetration operations. He was a spook in the classical mould and strongly believed that a spook should remain a spook from the day he joined the profession till his death. He maintained a very low profile, never talked about himself and rarely socialised. He was an officer of legendary personal integrity. He declined to accept offers of post-retirement posts made by Rajiv Gandhi.
After his retirement, he settled down in Mumbai and was living mostly in Mumbai and occasionally in Amaravati, his home town.
While in service he learnt homeopathy and was practising homeopathy in his spare time, helping poor people free of cost.