Mr. Navin B Chawla appointed as the new Chairperson of SAF, India Chapter

News Delhi, India - 2nd February 2024

 MR. NAVIN B CHAWLA APPPOINTED AS THE NEW CHAIRPERSON OF SAF, INDIA CHAPTERNavin B Chawla joined the IAS in 1969.  After an interesting and varied career, he was appointed Election Commission (2005-09) and thereafter Chief Election Commissioner (April 2009 - July 2010). During this period he conducted, to national and international acclaim, the General Election of April-May 2009.

 Born in 1945 in New Delhi to parents who were both from the medical profession. his mother was one of India’s first gynecologists and his father a dentist. He was schooled at one of India’s oldest private schools, The Lawrence School, Sanawar (1953-1961). He won one of the first Government scholarships, which supported his initial school years. He went on to read History at the Universities of Delhi and London.

 He remained a serving career Civil Servant for 36 years (1969-2005) and rose to the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. He headed the Secretariat in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (2004-05), and earlier in the Department of Consumer Affairs (2003-04). He was also Special Secretary in the Ministry of Environment & Forests (2002-03). In previous years he occupied several administrative posts within the Central & State Governments.

Present activities:  He is a Trustee of the South Asia Foundation (SAF), which has its footprint in all SAARC (South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation) countries, promoting educational exchanges in diverse fields. This is overseen by the Madanjeet Singh Foundation, of which, too, he is Adviser. 

 He presently serves on the Advisory Board of The Hindu newspaper’s Centre for Politics and Public Policy, and is an Adviser to the Manipal Educational and Medical Group (MEMG).

 He was till recently the President of India’s nominee on the Executive Council of Delhi University, as well as on the Court of Pondicherry University.

 He is an occasional columnist with the renowned newspapers The Hindu, The Hindustan Times and The Indian Express. He writes on election-related issues, governance and social issues.

Election Observation: As a former Chief Election Commissioner of India, he is frequently invited to act as Election Observer for several elections around the world.   Pre-Covid, he was invited by the respective Chief Election Commissioners of Bhutan, Venezuela and Mexico among others to observe their elections or participate in electoral-related conferences. He has frequently made time to join Commonwealth Secretariat teams to observe elections in Commonwealth countries.

Philanthropic activities: He has founded two NGOs that are involved in the areas of leprosy rehabilitation and teaching hearing impaired children.

The Darshan Trust: He is the Founder and Chairman of the Darshan Trust, based in Jaipur. This Trust educates hearing- impaired children from disadvantaged families who are taught computer skills.

 He also founded The Lepra India Trust, based in New Delhi. This has taken forward his interest in leprosy treatment and alleviation, which was inspired by his long association with Mother Teresa. The Trust treats ex leprosy sufferers, provides skilling to their healthy children by teaching them computer and beauty skills. All the services provided by both Trusts are completely free of any charge.

Lectures: He is frequently invited to deliver lectures on election related issues by Universities and Law schools. While most of lectures that he has delivered have been on election management in India and in the region, he is also invited to speak on Mother Teresa.

Publications: He is the author of two books on Mother Teresa, (with whom he had a close association for 23 years) until she passed away in 1997. The first publication was the authorized biography titled ‘Mother Teresa          (Sinclair- Stevenson, UK, 1992). The book has so far been translated into 17 languages while other requests are pending. The bulk of the royalties have been given to for leprosy alleviation. He also co-authored a second book on Mother Teresa with photographer Raghu Rai titled ‘Faith and Compassion’ (Element Books, UK/USA 1997).  In 1987, he wrote a monograph titled ‘The Vocational Rehabilitation and Social Re-integration of the leprosy affected in India’. It was released in 1987 in New Delhi by Mother Teresa herself. 

In 2019 he wrote “Every Vote Counts, the Story of India’s Elections” published by Harper Collins, India.  Navin Chawla has had a ringside view of Indian elections: as Chief Election Commissioner, he supervised the landmark 2009 general election and several key state elections as well.  Drawing on his wide-ranging experience, Every Vote Counts presents a riveting account of how the daunting task of conducting the largest electoral exercise in the world is undertaken.