From walking eight kilometres to a Telugu-medium school every day in Chinnagottimukla, Medak district, Andhra Pradesh, to becoming the head of the world’s largest coal producer, Coal India Ltd, S Narsing Rao’s journey is one of hard work and resilience to get to the top.
“Coming from a Telugu medium school, he soon became one of the best students in chemistry department pipping even those who came from English medium schools,” recalls K Janardhan Reddy, retired principal of University College of Science of Osmania University and who was Rao’s hostel warden.
After a master’s in chemistry and a post graduate diploma in forestry, Rao got into the Indian Police Service with a rank of 150th in the civil service examination. Dissatisfied, he took it again. This time, he ranked fifth, propelling him into the IAS in 1986.
After serving with the rural and land department, working in tribal belts and becoming the Chittoor and Vishakhapattanam collector, Rao joined the United Nations Office of Project Services as chief technical officer in Burma in 1999 and then shifted to Kuala Lumpur as a senior portfolio manager handling Bangladesh, Maldives and Thailand operations.
His comeback innings in India started in 2005. After his brief tenure in the state IT department, Rao became the ‘coal man’ by taking charge as the chairman and managing director of Singareni Collieries Company (SCCL) in 2006.
While it took 14 years for the Andhra Pradesh company to increase its production from 20 million tonnes (mt) in 1991 to 36 mt in 2005, Rao took it to 52 mt in just five years, a 44 per cent increase. Moreover, it became the only coal company to meet the target production during the last five year plan period.
Let us hope he can work the same magic in his current post.