D. Babu Paul, former Additional Chief Secretary, 78, who passed away here early Saturday morning was a man of many parts.
His peers remember him as an archetype of a committed bureaucrat whose crowning point in professional life came unusually early in his career as project coordinator of the Idukki hydroelectric project and District Collector (1971-75). It later became part of IAS lore that the then Chief Minister C. Achutha Menon had hand-picked Dr. Paul to expedite the faltering archdam project, and the young bureaucrat achieved his target with a mix of tact, drive and engineering skills. Outside the halls of governance, Dr. Paul is known more as a raconteur, author, columnist, opinion leader, lexicographer and theologian.
He is seen by many as Kerala society’s moral compass though he had faced occasional criticism for his views, more recently for his admiration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His friends say that a bright side balanced the pedant in Dr. Paul’s persona.
Dr. Paul often joked about death and quipped that he did not want a gun salute at his funeral, lest the bullets perforate his soul as it ascended to heaven peacefully. He also famously loathed tactile expressions of grief and insisted that he did not want farewell kisses when in the coffin.
Dr. Paul always exuded a quirky sense of humour. Below the doorbell at his home in Thiruvananthapuram, he hung a sign that said his appearance might be delayed, but it was inevitable like the second coming of Christ.
Some sensed a deep vein of pathos in his quibbles after his wife, Nirmala, died in 2001. He shut down the kitchen, survived on food delivered home and read voraciously to keep loneliness at bay.
Mother Teresa was an abiding influence in Paul’s life. She had visited him in Kochi and Dr. Paul had since treasured the chair she sat on as a ‘holy relic’.
Key postings eluded him presumably due to lack of political patronage, but Dr. Paul tasted success as a writer. His seminal work Vedasabdaretnakaram, a dictionary of Bible terminology in Malayalam, strongly influenced a generation of readers.
The Patriarchate of Antioch invested him with the title of Bar Eto Briro sometime back.
The funeral will be held at the Jacobite church at Kuruppampady, near Perumbavoor, at 4 p.m. on Sunday.