From: As told to Rajani Yadav
Of Customs and Duties
Posted On Friday, July 08, 2011
Having spearheaded the GST movement, Sumit Dutt Majumder is looking forward to his superannuation...
While the initial years of my life were spent in Silchar and Jorhat, completing school and then college from Guwahati Cotton College, the later years saw me move to the city proper. I did my MSc in Physics from IIT Kharagpur, followed by a Diploma in IIT in Industrial Physics. This exposed me to the best of both the worlds. My schooling had made me, if I may say, quite modest and taught me to be sincere, the tryst with city life taught me to be outgoing and articulate. It brought out the ambitious streak in me.
I started my career in Kolkata with Kolkata Custom House, known as Calcutta Custom House in those days. Within three years, I was called to Delhi and was asked to join the ministry of finance. The major breakthrough came very early on in my professional life when I got the opportunity to work as the under secretary in the Special Organising Committee for ASIAD 1982. I was monitoring the construction and renovation of 17 stadia. It gave me the opportunity to work with the likes of Rajiv Gandhi, Arun Singh, SS Gill, K Shankaran Nair among others. It was a very difficult job given that Indira Gandhi had come to power in 1981. Her predecessor, Charan Singh had decided not to hold the Asian Games, so when things took a turn under the governance of Indira Gandhi, we had to act really fast. We were working for close to 18 hours a day, it really taught me to work hard.
Asian Games was a grand success. I won the ASIAD Jyoti Award for it in recognition of my special contribution in organizing Asian Games. Given by the President of India, the announcement came on Republic Day. Another breakthrough came close on heels, it was the NAM Meet of 1983. I was appointed as the joint director, Security Access Control in a meet of the heads of the countries who participated in the Non-Aligned Movement.
That was not all. I was posted as director, Trade Promotion at Spices Board in Bahrain soon after. My beat was West Asia and North Africa or the WANA region. During the course of my tenure, I travelled extensively and finally returned to India in 1987. For the next four years, I headed the Special Investigation and Intelligence Branch of the Bombay Custom House for looking into custom fraud cases. Those days there were frauds galore. Our hands were quite full. That was again a very challenging period. After this, I was back to Kolkata serving the region in different capacities. This was followed by my stint in Pune. Meanwhile, I wrote two books-one on ASIAD Stadia and the other on Customs Valuation. By this time, I started representing India in World Customs Organisation(WCO) in Braussels. Representing the country as the head of customs in the meeting of the heads of customs from across the globe in June this year was a huge achievement given that I had started out as a junior representative in 1995.
I was director general revenue intelligence(DGRI) from 2007-09. Finally, I joined the Central Board of Excise and Customs in July 2009. During that period, I was one of the officers who spearheaded the GST movement. I would say that my parents have been my guru, I have no other guru. Very soon, I will be retiring from my service. It is during this period that I'd like to put my experiences from my extensive travels abroad on pen and paper.
Majumder is chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs
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