Always on our mind, Forever in our Hearts🙏
The leading light is gone plunging us in darkness.. The darkness none can accept .. today the entire group is groping, vagabond souls searching for light in a valley of darkness. I am sure his soul and spirit will pervade the vast expanse of the Indian Airspace and lead kindly light to all of us. Can fate have been crueler on any other day than on the 15th March 2003 for it snatched away our beloved leader Shri Brijendra Shekhar Shukla, fondly remembered as Shekhar in a tragic car accident in Shahjahanpur. Lucknow was not very far.
Excellence is never an accident, But on this date with destiny, excellence met with an accident. Shekhar was a leader par excellence. The manager administers, the leader innovates. The manager maintains, the leader develops. The manager relies on systems, the leader relies on people. The manager counts on controls, the leader counts on trust. The manager does things right, the leader does the right thing. We have seen excellent managers in this organisation who do things right. Few match Shekhar who always loved to do the right thing. He was a great leader because he always put U before I.
Shekhar was born in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, on the 11th August 1964. His father served the Madhya Pradesh Police and his mother is a house wife. Shekhar was the second child with two other siblings - an elder brother and a younger sister. Even as a young boy he was a very keen learner. His mind was filled with doubt and wonder, two ways for the human mind to acquire knowledge. He may not have been the best of students going by his academic scores, but he had a very special essence, an inquiring mind that will never satisfy itself unless he has learnt anything beyond doubt, unless he has learnt it perfectly. This was the very essence that was the essence of his existence. His schooling was mostly in M.P; he graduated in Physics in 1984 form a college in Shivpuri. Immediately after his graduation he joined the M.P. Police, the force which already had in its ranks his father and his elder brother. He was trained in Delhi in Wireless Communication and appointed as a Sub Inspector in the M.P. Police, in Bhopal. He served the force with distinction. In the year 1987 he was selected by the National Airports Authority (Now NAD/AAI) as an Aerodrome Officer and sent to the Civil Aviation Training College, Bamrauli, Allahabad, for his abinitio training. This was the place many of his batch mates got a glimpse of a man with an unquenched thirst for knowledge, a mind so inquiring that it would not stop short of going through volumes & volumes of the Annexes and the Documents. He had found his profession, that of an Air Traffic Controller, which necessitates a lifetime learning, a profession he fancied so much, a profession he was so proud of. On successful completion of his training he was posted to Mumbai, arguably one of the busiest Airports in the world. He quickly acquired all the ratings and earned the reputation of being one of the best Controllers in the profession. In the year 1989 he tied the marital knot to Archana, the woman behind all his successes thereafter. During his tenure in Mumbai he went on a deputation to the Indian Coast Guard and served in Daman, for a period of almost two years. He has had the rare distinction of serving in three uniformed services. In 1993 Shekhar attended the Radar Control Approach Procedures Course in CATC and graduated successfully. In 1994 he was transferred to Varanasi, where he served both as an Air Traffic Controller and as an ATC Administrator i.e., as the SAO (OPS). In 1996 he reached Delhi, the place which is the exclusive preserve of the leaders, a place from where he could serve the larger interests of the ATC Community, from where as his first name suggests, he became the BRIDGE (BRIJ) between the Air Traffic Controllers’ dreams and its realisation.
He brought dignity to the profession; he reinstalled the pride in the ATCOs. He was elected as the General Secretary of the ATC Guild (I), which he served with utmost sincerity, unparalleled dedication, enormous zeal and unmatched enthusiasm.. The ATCOs had finally found a selfless, highly dedicated and motivated leader, who was an extraordinary persona with an extraordinary vision and he was a bundle of energy required to transform that vision into a mission. Two terms with him at the helm transformed the professional and personal lives of the ATCOs.
Thomas Jefferson said, “ In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Shekhar was that rock who weathered all hardships valiantly. He relentlessly struggled for a cause, never ever succumbed to any temptation. Even when the system conspired against him resulting in his dismissal, he was undeterred. Fate has conspired, now, to eliminate him from our midst. Both in his life and death he has proved that he has always lived for others and not for himself. As a parent, he has performed his duty until his last breath, by taking his injured son to a doctor and breathing his last only after confirming that his child was out of danger. His leadership likewise was paternalistic and we suffer today an irreparable loss.
Shekhar is survived by his wife Archana, 13 year old daughter Abhya, 8 year old son Akshay and 4 year old son Digansh. The entire Aviation Community expresses its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, the family to which each one of the ATCOs belong. Norman MacEwan said, “ We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Shekhar has given all his life long and he lives even beyond his death, yes he lives in our hearts unto eternity.
- S Swaminathan, Assistant General Manager (ATC)
President, ATC Guild (I), Trivandrum Branch
Trivandrum Airport, Kerala