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All I wanted was to go out with dignity, says IRDA chairman TS Vijayan

HYDERABAD: TS Vijayan, the recently appointed chairman of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), has described his last 17 months at LIC, when he was demoted and investigated for alleged irregularities, as a ‘down period’ of his life, while insisting that he had left the past behind him and will now focus on increasing the reach of the insurance sector in his new role.ts-vijayan

“Naturally, disappointment was there. I was looking at retirement. All I wanted was to go out with dignity,” Vijayan told ET in his first interview after taking over as the insurance regulator in February, as he reminisced about his career’s rocky phase.

In May 2011, Vijayan was demoted to managing director of LIC, after his five-year term as chairman ended, amid allegations of irregularities in decision-making. He resigned from LIC in November 2012. His name was also linked to the LIC Housing FinanceBSE 0.92 % scam, and an internal committee of the finance ministry, during Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure, concluded there we-re ‘procedural lapses’ in investments by LIC under his chairmanship.

A subsequent probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, however, exonerated him of all charges. The change of guard at North Block paved the way for his appointment as the head of India’s insurance regulator, completing an astonishing turnaround in the fortunes of the insurance industry veteran.

The 59-year-old Vijayan is philosophical about the bad times. “That was some down period. Everybody has to go through that sort of period in life at some point or the other. But I had firm faith in myself,” he said, even as he paid tribute to the system.

“If the person is correct, the system will respond to it. It may take a bit of time, but the system is strong in India. You have to give credit to the PSU culture and strength in India that village boys like me can rise to this level,” he said.

In his new job, the IRDA chief plans to focus on developing the sector and increasing insurance penetration.

“For me, the foremost issue is increasing the reach of insurance. We are still a long way from reaching out to the bottom of the pyramid,” he said, and added that increasing the foreign investment ceiling would expand the reach of the insurance sector.

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