The government on Thursday appointed T S Vijayan, 60, as the new chairman of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda).
Vijayan’s appointment was cleared by the Prime Minister’s Office last week following green signal from the Central Vigilance Commission at January-end.
It was poetic justice inside two years for Vijayan, who quietly assumed office as the insurance regulator’s fourth chairman on Thursday.
In May 2011, he was demoted from chairman to managing director of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) following allegations of irregularities. Vijayan was later cleared of all charges by the Central Bureau of Investigation and retired last November.
This is for the first time that Irda will be headed by an insurance industry veteran – and the very reason why a lot of hopes are pinned on Vijayan.
The previous three chairmen — N Rangachary, C S Rao and Hari Narayan — were all former bureaucrats. Rangachary was from Indian Revenue Service and C S Rao and Hari Narayan from Indian Administrative Service.
Vijayan joined the LIC in 1977 as a direct recruit and 29 years later, in 2006, was named its youngest-ever chairman.
Though he was the frontrunner for the Irda chief’s position, the race opened up towards December-January with the names of petroleum secretary G C Chaturvedi, information technology secretary R Chandrasekhar and current LIC chairman D K Mehrotra, and Daiichi Star Union chief Kamalji Sahay being touted.
The insurance industry is looking forward to a raft of decisions by Vijayan.
He assumes office at a time where there are key regulations pending, with product design and bancassurance guidelines being the most crucial ones.
Within Irda, too, there are various appointments pending.
For Vijayan, it was baptism by fire when he took over at LIC as business shrank, and private insurers fought hard to get a foothold. He then took competition by the scruff of its neck and just surged ahead from around the time of the global financial crisis, setting up records in premium collections and policy sales.
Vijayan is also credited with conceiving the ‘satellite’ or ‘sampark’ offices concept, which heralded a new paradigm in customer service at the insurer.
Follow Aswathy Varughese @Aswathy_04