Shri K. Padmanabhaiah was born on 6th Oct, 1938 in a village in Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh. He obtained a Masters degree in Science from Andhra University and a Masters degree in Financial Management, from the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management, Mumbai. In 1961, he joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in Maharashtra cadre. He served Government of Maharashtra in a variety of important positions like Director of Sugar Co-operatives; District Collector, Nashik; Principal Secretary, Planning; Principal Secretary, Finance and Municipal Commissioner of Greater Bombay.
His tenure as Director of Sugar Co-Operatives (1970-74) saw the most spectacular growth of Sugar Industry in the State and it received national and international recognition. He was invited by various State Governments to advise them on development of co-operative sugar factories. During his tenure as Collector (1975-77), Nashik district was adjudged as one of the best districts in the country in performance of the 20-point program of the Prime Minister and his initiatives were widely appreciated by the National press. He performed a stellar role as Municipal Commissioner, Greater Bombay (1990-91) and he was awarded the prestigious Gaints International’s Award for excellence in Civic Administration.
He served Government of India as Joint Secretary, Petroleum (1982-84); Joint Secretary, Power (1984-86); Minister Economic in Indian High Commission in London (1986-1989) and Secretary, Urban Development and Housing (1993). In 1993, Maharashtra and Karnataka States were struck by a devastating earthquake. The Government asked him to chair an ‘Advisory Committee of International Experts’ on reconstruction and rehabilitation of the earthquake affected areas. The Committee’s report served as a blue-print for the entire rehabilitation and reconstruction work with aid from the World Bank. Subsequently he worked as Secretary Civil Aviation; Chairman of both ‘Air India’ and ‘Indian Airlines’ (1994) and as Union Home Secretary and Secretary, Jammu & Kashmir Affairs (1994-1997).
By 1994 the entire civil administration and political process in the Kashmir valley was in disarray, and insurgency was at its peak. As Union Home Secretary, he played an extremely crucial role in reviving the political process in Jammu & Kashmir State during 1994-1997, and in holding the very first elections in the insurgency ridden State after a gap of nine years. His work received nation-wide recognition and he was awarded the ‘Shiromani Award’ for National Development and Integration (1996) and the ‘Priyadarshini Award’ for outstanding Public Service (1996). After retirement in 1997 he was appointed as the Government of India Representative for Naga Peace talks. He persuaded the Naga rebel leadership who were based abroad for decades, to come back to India, persuaded them to move away from their rigid stand of sovereignty, continued the dialogue with patience & perseverance, and persuaded them to continue the ceasefire which led to peace in Nagaland and Naga-inhabited areas of the North East. He relinquished this post on 31st August 2009 on completion of the tenure.
He also chaired the Committee on Police Reforms (2000), the Committee on Re-organization of S.S.B., and the Committee to Review the working of National Institute of Urban Management. Most of his recommendations on police reforms have been accepted for implementation by the Government. In 2008, he was awarded ‘Padma Bhushan’ by the President of India for outstanding contributions to the Nation in the field of Civil Service.