(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
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.