The Mohamed Hanish Interview: A different kind of bureaucrat

19 Oct 2017
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Busy administrator, passionate quizmaster, eloquent speaker, habitual writer, caring husband and dotting father — this top bureaucrat is a man of many hues. Nishad Padiyarath gets up, close and personal with the man, his vision and the milestones in his illustrious life

Mohamed Hanish whispers to me with an infectious smile: “My mother wanted me to be a doctor; my grandfather hoped I would become a lawyer. I had another plan. I wanted to be in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), a dream I cherished from grade IV. My father and uncle, a former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) ambassador, gave all the required support. So, my mother lost. Father and uncle won.”

He adds: “What I like about my profession is the way I or people like me can help change the lives of many ordinary people for the better. By qualification, I’m an engineer and it gives me an analytical view of issues. I have also studied public policy and administration from well-known universities in the east and the west. In fact, east and west have lot of similarities and dissimilarities while addressing the same issues. All praise to the Almighty for being kind to me and I take decisions based on facts and inner faith.”

He joined the IAS in 1996 and worked in many cities in various capacities. He grew up in his career with the Indian government and holds quite a few high-profile offices now. Little wonder, the well-respected Economist magazine of London selected Hanish as one of the best administrators in India a few years ago.

Hanish is now chairman and managing director of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation, better known as Supplyco, the gateway to 30 million people of the state, assuring the much-needed food security in a substantive way by supplying essential commodities.

He is also the CEO of Smart City, Kochi;  nodal officer for the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup and managing director of an Islamic Financial Services Company (NBFC) owned by the government with a few non-resident Indian directors.

How does he manage time with all the high-profile portfolios? “It’s quite challenging,” he says. “But once you have a handle on time, it’s quite easy. If a day is rough, I tell myself the classic quote – tomorrow is another day. If that doesn’t work, I start my work on the next project at the soonest.”

Hanish is warm, affable and generous. The secret of his success lies in his simple, engaging charm which is one of his natural assets. That’s what makes him so persuasive.

Hanish was in Muscat recently as part of a foundation’s scholarship programme. “It is a philanthropic organisation which has been working for over 28 years to support excellence in education among students,” says Hanish, who is also its chairman.

The former Kochi district collector,who is documented for working for more than 18 hours a day for close to five years, quips: “Keep life simple, work hard and leave the rest to the Almighty…that’s my simple belief. Don’t take designations  too seriously; give importance to your work content. Look for men and women who are ready to roll up their sleeves and work. Aim for excellence; recognition will follow. Never the other way around.”

As nodal officer for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, Hanish just managed to battle several hurdles for the smooth conduct of the global football event. “It’s several years of hard work that goes into an event which is under the strict supervision and guidelines of the FIFA. Its credit goes to my team who worked tirelessly to ensure its success. Football is growing as a revenue-generating industry in India today. With the success of the Indian Super League, football is played widely in India today,” he says. Hanish laughs and adds: “But it will take a while for the Indian football team to be on a par with the Oman national team. You have a strong wall in the form of Ali Al Habsi. He is an unbeatable goalkeeper, in addition to other excellent players”

With so many portfolios to his credit, does he have time to be with his family? “Of course, I find time to be with my wife Ameena and my daughter Aysha, who incidentally plays football and is a huge Barca fan.”

Hanish’s family has had business ties with the Middle East that date back to many centuries. What’s most heartening to him is that his family built mosques in the holy cities of Mecca and Madina centuries ago that are still in use.

Hanish is an avid quizzer and has also hosted several quiz shows on TV in India. His annual quiz show in Bahrain attracts over 9,000 spectators.

He has a habit of writing daily tidings in a diary at the end of each day and he’s been writing since grade III. “I started much before Google Direction, Maps, Photos, etc. I’m a little old fashioned, you see,” says Hanish while trying to unsuccessfully hide his multiple hand-held techno devices.

He’s got to catch a flight to see the FIFA teen stars in action. “Good luck Nishad and enjoy my hospitality when you come to India, sir,” says the man on the move, with affection and respect.

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