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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

good gestures of a Collector

A District Magistrate and Collector, is an officer who is in-charge of a district, the basic unit of administration, in India.  India has approximately 741 districts. Each one of them is headed by a DM. District Collector is almost always a member of the Indian Administrative Service, recruited by the Union Public Service Commission.

Collectors can be transferred Nation-wide and when it was brought to the notice of Ratnagiri collector Laxminarayan Mishra that a letter appointing 35-year-old Arjun Sankapal as his replacement came, he was not amused as he had not heard anything about his transfer.  The brief order on the letterhead of the state government’s general administration department was in the usual format and signed by the deputy secretary (GAD).

On a closer scrutiny, the  letter was found to be fake and he knocked on the doors of the police superintendent. An offence was registered against the Kolhapur-based Sankapal, who was arrested and later released on bail.   The arts graduate had attempted the civil services examination five years ago. He did not succeed, but he told his family he had passed and would soon take over as a district collector. A huge procession was taken out in his Karvir village in Kolhapur district to celebrate the achievement. After that he left Kolhapur district and would occasionally visit his village in swanky cars. He misled villagers, saying he had been appointed collector but never gave the name of the district. From the days when he was preparing for his UPSC examination, Sankapal used to teach IAS and IPS aspirants. Subsequently, he got married to a student, whose father was a retired police officer, said a senior official. When his in-laws buttonholed him on his posting, he created four fake orders with the help of a friend in Kolhapur and pacified them.

The fake order for his appointment as Ratnagiri collector was made on the basis of past orders issued by the GAD. “He just inserted his own name in the appointment order signed by the deputy secretary,” the official said. The forgery was good enough for many in the Konkan region to believe Mishra had been transferred and Sankapal appointed in his place. Mishra, himself, finally burst Sankapal’s balloon.

This is post is about another Collector who was painted bad and as a good Samaritan on different occasions !!  .. in Oct 2020, effecting   a reshuffle in the State bureaucracy, the Tamil Nadu Govt  transferred P. Shankar, Director of Information and Public Relation – at the same time,  Karur Collector was transferred to Madurai. 

In the backdrop of the Manaparai incident, a social activist from Sembiyanatham village of Tharagampatti panchayat in Kulithalai union had reportedly contacted the Collector oover phone  and alerted him on a defunct borewell in his village. The caller said that they had passed on the information to the officials about the abandoned borewell soon after the tragedy of Sujith Wilson, but no action has been initiated so far.  The audio went viral as the Collector  Anbalagan goes on saying that there is a BDO (Block Development Officer) for your taluk and you should've gone and met him directly on this issue. Responding to the caller in a very rude manner, the Collector asks, “Do you think that I am a Saravana Bhavan Hotel server to you? Cut the call, you rascal.” The Collector then suspended the call.

In an earlier instance, Collector and Returning Officer T Anbalagan and Congress candidate Jothimani lodged cases against each other after a heated exchange of words over the phone, a purported audio clip of was  doing the rounds on social media. In the audio clip, Anbalagan is heard telling Jothimani that he would recommend the cancellation of the Lok Sabha election to the Karur parliamentary constituency. “Your advocate Senthil Kumar along with 100 others assembled at my house around 11 in the night and said he wanted to submit a petition. There is more to read !

Mr T.Anbalagan, I.A.S., was the Collector of Karur District. He belongs to 2011 IAS Batch. He graduated from College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University in Mining Engineering discipline. He took over charge of Karur in Mar 2018.    

In 2018 – 80 year -old Raakammal, living alone in her small house at Chinnamanaikkenpatti, had a surprise high-profile guest for lunch.  A well dressed man came calling with home-cooked meal for her. After serving on a banana leaf for her, the man  sat on the floor besides her and had his food. Raakammal, who poured her heart. It was at a grievance redress meeting two days before the District collector was told about the woman living alone in extreme poverty by people who requested him to arrange financial aid for her.  The collector  ordered a monthly old-age pension of Rs. 1,000 for her, visited her home, had lunch with her and shared her the good news.  A Great gesture indeed.  More to follow 

On April 30,  2018, after 35 years of service, Paramasivam retired from his post as the Karur district collector's driver. And on that day, in a thoughtful gesture, his boss took the wheel to drive him home. Karur Collector T Anbazhagan, who had taken charge of the Tamil Nadu district in March, insisted on driving Paramasivam and his wife back home on the day of his retirement, reported The News Minute. On realising that Monday would be the last day that Paramasivam would come to work after over three decades of service, Mr Anbazhagan asked him to bring his wife Banumathi to the Collector's chamber in the afternoon and organised a retirement party for him. After presenting a gold coin and a shawl to the couple, the bureaucrat asked them to take the back seat for once so he could drive them home.

Paramasivam, who has driven multiple cars for several bureaucrats over his years of service, said  he was "completely shocked" when the collector announced that he would be driving him home.  After driving Paramasivam and his wife to their home, the collector sat down with them to have tea.

May be little gestures, but big for the recipients – hearty wishes to Mr Anbazhagan and people of his ilk.  Salutes sir.  Good news and grand gestures are never old to be shared.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
8th May 2021. 

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