Gen. (Retd.) Dr. Sunith Francis Rodrigues, PVSM, VSM, rendered signal service to the nation for nearly 41 years in the Indian Armed Forces and retired as Chief of Army Staff in 1993. He remained as Governor of Punjab and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh from November 16, 2004 to April 22, 2010.

A product of St. Xaviers High School, Bombay, General Rodrigues joined the Indian Military Academy in 1949 and was commissioned, in December 1952, in the Regiment of Artillery. He served in the Army in different capacities, such as Director General Military Training, Vice Chief of Army Staff, Goc-in-C of Central Command and Western Command, ultimately rising to the highest position of the chief of the Army Staff. His dedication, professional competence and qualities of head and heart won him the military honours of Vishist Seva Medal and Param Vishist Seva Medal.

General Rodrigues was known as a thinker and a strategist. After his retirement from the Military, he devoted himself to the pursuit of knowledge, empowering children and the right of all citizens to live with dignity, justice and pride. Because of his keen interest in education and other development oriented areas, he served on the Executive Council of Goa University for 7 years and on the Managing Committee of the Goa Chamber of Commerce, was a long standing Member of the Goa Planning Board and on the Board of Governors of the Goa Institute of Management. He also served on the National Security Advisory Board, for two terms.

General Rodrigues brought to the Governorship and the office of Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, a unique blend of institutional dynamism, of erudition and a wealth of experience rarely found anywhere. Credited with illustrious and many-sided achievements as Administrator of the Union Territory, he has set a high standard, as Governor of Punjab. He has not limited his vision and effort for the development of only Punjab and Chandigarh, but for the whole region and is instrumental in conceiving various projects, including an International Airport and Modern Terminal Market. Immediately, after taking over as Governor, he took up the cause of improving the lot of the farming community of the State, which culminated in the setting up of the State Farmers’ Commission.

Under his stewardship, Chandigarh City has been acclaimed as the best in the Country in many respects, in terms of physical infrastructure, business environment, real estate and as an emerging growth center, in a study and survey conducted by an Independent Global Research Group. It is a matter of record that the work on about 305 projects has been launched, with the focus on improving the quality of life of all sections of the people. He took special interest in upgrading the education, health and social infrastructure in the City, by up-grading existing hospitals and conceiving projects like the Education City and Medicity. His concept of setting up of Sampark Centers and E-Gram Sampark Centers has become very popular and give a major relief to the citizens. He has also dedicated himself to the empowerment of the disadvantaged sections and various innovative programmes, like Slum Rehabilitation, with 25,728 flats being constructed, Home-cum-Vocational Center for Street Children and Homes for Disabled, Crippled and Mentally Retarded Children have established him as a sincere and committed friend of Aam Admi. He is taking a special interest in eradicating the menace of drug addiction, female foeticide and working for an improvement in the infant mortality rate and the inculcation of moral values among children. Various innovative programmes have been launched, in these societal endeavours.

Recognizing the growing power of IT for development and progress, General Rodrigues brought Chandigarh on the World IT Map by setting up the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park. He initiated innovative steps for promoting industry and entrepreneurship development programmes, by creating a business friendly environment. The outdated byelaws have been up-graded, to meet the changing concept of town planning, building, growing economic activities and aspirations of the people. He started the process of ‘partnership’ and ‘ownership’, which has been widely accepted by the residents. He also started the Public Hearing Session twice a month, to give a platform to the people to present their grievances, which have become a popular feature of a responsive, transparent and good governance.

Adding an academic honour to his distinguished soldierly career, the Goa University conferred the Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D. Litt) on Gen. (Retd.) S. F. Rodrigues.

He was conferred with the Mother Teresa’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Social and Administrative achievements, on March 29, 2009. He is a rare combination of an Administrator, a man of vision, a humanitarian to the core and a true patriot, with a special concern for the unity & integrity of the Country and the creation of a New Resurgent India.