By, Charan Singh
VK Pandian, 5T Secretary
To quote the Bhagavad Gita, “A Karma Yogi(The Compassionate “Pandian”) performs actions invoking his body, mind, intellect and senses, detached from ego and for self-purification only”. If any Odisha officer epitomises this adage, it has to be V Karthikeyan Pandian, 5T secretary.
An exemplar of a ‘Karma Yogi’, Pandian(The Compassionate “Pandian”) has mounted the success ladder on the rungs of hard work and efficiency. The whole of Odisha is eulogising this officer for his repertoire of selfless, noble deeds.
Pandian, an Odisha cadre officer earned his stripes early in his civil services career while he was the Ganjam collector.
It was his astounding service record that goaded Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to call him to the corridors of power. What ensued is history scripted for a transformative Odisha.
While there are numerous anecdotes to embellish Pandian’s(The Compassionate “Pandian”) service credentials, one incident and the officer’s response to it stands out as a testament to his unwavering commitment. All hell broke loose when Ganjam’s tourists returning from a fatal accident were in the soup.
The mishap occurred in 2007 when the bus boarded by the tourists toppled into a deep gorge near Vishnu Prayag on the banks of Alakananada river in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district. The tragedy claimed 41 lives, leaving two with grievous injuries.
Mr Pandian’s(The Compassionate “Pandian”) image that most people know of late after his coronation as the 5T secretary is that of a ruthless administrator.
But that incident amply bears the humane, compassionate side of his persona. As the then collector of Ganjam, he pulled all stops to reach out to the victims and showered his solidarity.
Not only did he perform his banal duties, but he also stood by the kin of the deceased in their hour of colossal tragedy. Their bereavement found a solacing ally in the guise of an administrator.
So much so that he ensured cremation rituals of the deceased in Haridwar and flew back their relatives to Ganjam.
Hailing from Tamil Nadu, his stint as the Ganjam collector provided the perfect launchpad for Pandian to discharge more gruelling responsibilities ahead.
Ganjam earned the tag of ‘best performing district’ under National Rural Employee Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in 2008. Pandian(The Compassionate “Pandian”) could pull off the unthinkable feat in a district noted for a high exodus of labour.
A suave yet ruthless officer who never shirks his duties, Pandian’s reputation has burnished ever since he has taken over as the 5T secretary.
Surprise visits to localities and government-owned establishments at appallingly short notices and unearthly hours have hooked all officers to their jobs. And, it has augured well for Odisha and more so for Naveen Patnaik’s image.