With great pleasure and pride, I am obliged to share my learning experiences and highly rewarding interactions with Sri K. Krishnanunni sahib on two major occasions in GSI.
My first friendly encounter with Sri Krishnanunni sahib was at GSI Training Institute Raipur Camp, where I had been attending a Refresher Course on Environmental Geology, that was organized from 9th to 21st September 1996. Sri R. N. Mishra was the Dy. Director General at TI HQ Hyderabad. Sri Krishnanunni had come as a guest faculty to deliver lectures and conduct practical on ‘Role of Photo Geology & Remote Sensing’ in preparing geospatial layers of useful information as interpreted and derivative thematic maps and their relevance to change detection and interpreting the futuristic trends. He appeared very unassuming, down to earth person who had lot of courage of conviction and proud of sharing his immense knowledge and experiences on application of emerging modern technology with his junior colleagues. Sri Krishnanunni combined grace and mastery over subject that comes from dedicated practice and would make his lectures interactive and interesting for us all. Needless to state that he was instantly liked and respected by us all the trainees. During the tea breaks he would prefer discussing with us trainees rather than sit on the high table reserved for the faculty and Camp-in-Charge.
Besides, we shared our impressions on why our career progression in GSI was so slow, neglected and badly managed, as stagnation was beginning to kill overall enthusiasm and drive of national organization. He empathized and agreed on the dismal situation in a professional organization where merit was not always rewarded or recognized that dampened the spirit of young professional Geoscientists. We lamented that expansion of GSI through UPSC competitive exams and interviews had brought about changed attitudes and such selections without a ‘cut-off grade’ on performance levels was detrimental to competency framework of GSI. As we shared our passion for GSI-SOA activities, our discussions also centered around providing enhanced facilities and allowances to field going officers and the hot topic of the times - scope for acceptance and implementation of ‘Flexible Complimenting System’ for streams of scientific officers in GSI, leading to improved chances of regular time-bound promotions. That was also the GSI-SOA national agenda. Those were the heady days when our seniors used to fully support and nurture the Association for promotion of welfare, scientific culture and building next generation of leadership through common agenda and collective application of mind to find viable solutions to vexing problems of generic nature. I distinctly remember his advice that time was: apart from our pursuing with the Cadre-holding Authority – the Ministry of Mines, we should focus more on acquiring newer skill sets and hone our expertise on a bunch of selected subjects/ branches in Geology. And fortunately, that freedom of choice for pursuit of selected branch of geoscience by individuals had always been promoted through mentoring, widespread bonhomie and comaraderie in GSI.
Choices for Sri Krishnanunni had obviously included learning and promoting application of modern tools of PGRS aiding geospatial data interpretation in Geosciences and delivering outcomes as public good geoscience, pertaining to say environmental geology, mining and addressing related hazards and restoration of environmental conditions, mitigation strategies for geohazards and rural & urban geology.
One of his greatest contributions to the Geological Survey of India and the society had been the conception and development of village economy through mineral assessment programme ‘DOVEMAP’, aimed at improving village economy and creating employment opportunities in rural area. The innovative idea was highly appreciated by many decision makers and huge database was created on several area specific large-scale maps, but could not be not be followed-up due to reasons beyond mandate of GSI. As I had completed and topped in the one-year long V Regular Course in PGRS at Hyderabad [1984-85], I had taken special interest while interacting with him. It was a marvelous opportunity for me to absorb as much of his erudite grip on the subject and practical applications with case studies as possible. It was a truly a very enriching experience.
Three years later, my second friendly encounter with Sri Krishnanunni, who had become Sr. Dy. Director General since November 1997 and posted at CHQ Kolkata, was during two-days Colloquium on ‘Role of GSI in Early 21st Century” that was organized in GSI Western Region, Jaipur on 30th September and 1st October, 1999. Sri B.D. Dungrakoti was the Dy.D.G. & HoD WR and Dr. R. S. Goyal, Director was made the organising Secretary. All the known stalwarts of GSI from CHQ and other Regions had come to attend. Dr. S. K. Acharya was the DG GSI and other galaxy of very leaned and eminent participants included Sri Ravi Shankar, K. Krishnanunni, Dr. Sujit Mazumder, Dr. B.P. Bhattacharya, Y.K. Arora and several others. As a normal practice during organization of such major events, several Committees of selected members were constituted in WR (Working Groups) for sharing collective responsibilities and putting in our best efforts in successful conduct of the show. I had been nominated to be part of the Recording and Compilation Committee along with S/Shri P.K. Sinha, V.P. Laul, A.K. Mukherjee and Dr A.K. Grover.
Those were the days when the proceedings were recorded manually, as Minutes covering important decisions and recommendations. We were seated at vantage point on the front row of the Conference Hall. Sri Krishnanunni along with few others entered well before the time and looked at us seated already in position. He smiled, waved his hands and walked straight towards us. He had recognized me and displayed no qualms about walking towards junior colleagues to exchange some pleasantries. After knowing about our mission for recording the proceedings of the Colloquium, he suggested that emphasis was to be accorded on essence of the contents, the substance! The novel ideas and suggestions were more important than who said it. Such clarity of thought and open-minded attitude of an accomplished leader made our task less daunting and sharpened our focus. Sri Dungrakoti also came over and made encouraging interactions and later issued letters of appreciation for the job well done. Such personal touch and appreciation from seniors were highly motivating.
On the dais, Sri Krishnanunni was steering the proceedings. It turned out to be a great brainstorming Session with intention to harness all worthy new ideas from one and all. Towards the evening, he particularly addressed the younger colleagues and announced that owing to time constraints all might not get opportunity to speak, but were welcome to submit their ideas and suggestions on the theme, GSI in 21st Century, in writing on a piece of paper and delivering to us - the Recording /Compilation Committee. Next day we were flooded with such submissions from different participants. Amongst several other worthy recommendations, it was here the seeds for launching National Geochemical and Geophysical Mapping in conjunction and integration with already completed geological mapping on 1:50k scale were sown. The foundations for strengthening and modernization of laboratories in GSI were firmed up. On HRD front, the FCS was advocated as suitable mode of career progression for the Group A scientific Officers in GSI. Later we learned that this Colloquium was more of an inhouse preparatory exercise for a much larges International Conference on the theme during 2001 organized at Kolkata, when GSI celebrated 150 years of its service to nation.
Only people of strong will power and decisive minds like Sri K. Krishnanunni would adopt positive approach for managing the inevitable change for growth. He was always proactive and will act decisively to bring about the desired changes and make lasting impact. What a visionary leadership and search for prioritised role clarity of Geological Surveys in line with the latest global developments and the best advancements and practices to suit our national conditions and requirements!