Tuesday, June 21, 2011

R. Anandhakumar - Well Done Sir

It is the stuff that should get all the cynics in India, in fact everyone, standing up and clapping. I was amazed to hear on television that the Erode District Collector had admitted his daughter in a government school – a panchayat union primary school at Kumuilankuttai. He has instructed that his daughter would take the free midday meal and that she be treated as any other child in the school.

In a world that is going crazy blaming everyone else, wanting heads to roll, wanting people to be hanged and shot for crimes, and coming up with doomsday predictions for India, here comes this officer who quietly does more than a few millions of us can do. More than what we would all dare to do. In a world where it would be so easy to just go his own way (like so many of us) he chooses to make his statement like a man – through his actions. He admits his daughter in a government school.

As Mahatma Gandhi said ‘You must be the change you want to see in this world’. Mr. R. Anandhakumar has followed the Mahatma’s words. Apparently he has declined to speak about his action to the press and is getting along with his life. Where a billion of us are not, he is doing it by choice. He is being the change he wants to see. While we are all blaming someone else and hoping someone else will solve our problems.

Imagine what would have happened in that government school with this one move. Teachers will be more attentive, careful punctual. In fact not just this school but all the government schools in the area will instantly be on their toes. The midday meal will be of good quality. The school premises will be clean. The toilets will be clean. As I read the reports on the web I can see that all these changes have already been effected. Even parents of other children have been instructed not to spit and dirty the school premises. No one will take that school lightly any more, specially not the government officials. With one move, Anadhakumar has set the lives of hundreds of children in that school right. And I hope with this one move, he has also inspired many people in power to show that with great power comes great responsibility. A responsibility that if they choose, they can deploy to stunning effect.

Well done Anandhakumar. I salute you and I know so many more join me. Whatever history may say later, for this one symbolic move, a symbol as powerful to me as that of a solitary student standing in front of a convoy of army tanks in Tiananmen Square against all odds, you deserve the accolades. I compare your act with one of the most enduring images of our times because we are a nation of a billion people who are on the verge of losing hope, and you have given us a glimmer to hold on to.

With one move you have shown what an IAS officer, a government official, can do if he wants. With one move you have washed away all the sins that the beurocracy seems to represent. I know there are several more of your ilk in the government, in politics, who are doing their job silently, efficiently, cancelling out the burden that the other side piles up on you. You have shown the way that many others will follow. And I hope that the public, that includes me, will now cease to make irresponsible remarks on beurocrats. You have given us a new hope. And I am now waiting to see more such acts from people in power – politics and the beurocracy. Imagine what would happen to government schools if even a few collectors or government officials did this, if the elected representatives, the MLAs and MPs sent their children and grandchildren to these schools. Or what would happen to government hospitals if the people in the government started going to government hospitals.

(Here one must mention that the Hon'ble Governor of Andhra Pradesh Mr. E.S.L.Narasimhan went to the Gandhi Hospital for a surgery treatment recently (the last time a Governor went to a government hospital according to a news report on the web was Mr. K.C. Abraham going to the Osmania General Hospital in 1980. And this fact was bought to my notice by my good friend Vinod Ekbote, an upright, incorruptible government officer who belongs to the class of officers we would like to see more of.) If more people in power come forward like this, even a small percentage more, we will need no Lok Pal Bill which the government is carefully derailing. This is all we need - an implementation of what is already there!

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