1.In 2000-2001, I was the Special Officer in the Chief Ministers Special Cell. Somewhere in 2001, I ran short of money just a few days before the next salary. Those days salary was in the Rs.15,000/- range. Good enough to manage a month. My wife was not working. There was a heavy expenditure on medicines that month. I had no credit card nor any savings. I ran out of money: we were searching for coins! Managing those few days was becoming a pain…. Then an idea struck me. I put all the newspapers of the past many months into the boot of my Maruti car and went straight to the tiny shop on Wallajah Road, a few hundred meters from where I was staying in the Omandurar Government Estate. I got a clean Rs.750/- from the sale of old newspapers and you can imagine my sense of relief!
2.In 2001, while staying at the Omandurar Govt Estate, there was an early morning visitor, who rang the bell at about 5.30 am! I was hardly out of bed. My wife was astounded to see the former Chief Secretary Mr.TV Antony, IAS, right in front….he bad come on a bicycle! My wife hurriedly woke me up and in 5 minutes I was ready to greet Antony Sir! You could say that I was in a semi shocked state…. a former CS, that too aged about 75 years had come to visit me!! Antony Sir told me that there was no time for niceties and said that we could go for a ride in my car! …….and he took me to all the public toilets in Chennai!…. just to illustrate his point that we do things perfunctorily and not as per the requirements in the field! Well, if could have another word for commitment to a cause, it is TV Antony Sir! Here was a senior citizen, that too a retired Chief Secretary, who envisions a Tamil Nadu, where every citizen uses a toilet and is acutely aware of the need for personal hygiene and public sanitation, something I too share about passionately…Here, I am reminded of yeoman service in the area of sanitation done by Madam Shantha Sheela Nair IAS, Ms.Amudha IAS and others…
3.Visit by CS to see my paperless office; in 2000, I and Madam Qudisa Gandhi had made the Tamil Nadu Corporation for Development of Women LTD, into the first paperless office in Tamil Nadu. This was post a visit to Chittoor in AP, where my batchmate Venkatesham ( then Joint Collector) had created the fist paperless Collectorate in India, using a software KM-ATOM, developed by APTS ( Andhra Pradesh Technology Services). Based on my telephonic request, the then MD of APTS Mr.Suresh Chanda, IAS ( Telangana, 1985 batch) flew down a few days later, and ensured that his team stayed on to complete all formalities related to the installation of the software. I was fascinated by his deep knowledge, passion and commitment to governmental transformation! Needless to say, my passion for technology as a transformational tool, was ignited by Suresh Chanda Sir and of course Venkatesham! We were lucky that my predecessor Mr.K.Rajaraman had provided computers to everybody on his desk in the office, and all were connected in a LAN. The newspapers, the Hindu and the Indian Express had hailed the entry of “paperless government offices”! One afternoon, I received a call directly on my mobile…. ” I am Shankar here….can I come and see your paperless office?”…. I asked him could he explain who he was? He simply said, “Santhosh, Shankar, Chief Secretary here”!!!! All hell broke loose in my head! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…..I was having goose pimples all over…..and in a few minutes Shankar Sir walked into our office! Sir spent more than one hour understanding the entire process….and then spending time with M’am and me! This will forever remain a red letter day in my life….This only shows the greatness and magnanimity of a senior colleague and that too a Chief Secretary in encouraging his juniors…..his advise to all Secretaries (as told by one Officer to me) during the All Secretary’s meeting was to take a bus and visit my office! Before that only Mr.Vikram Kapur, IAS, Karthik IAS and DP Yadav IAS had visited my office.
4.Bharatdarshan is 55 days of touring India by IAS probationers just after the Foundation Course. All the 80 officers would be divided into small groups and sent in different directions; to be “interned” with the Army, Navy, Air force, a PSU, a naxalite affected district etc.
During the army attachment, our team was stationed at the Akhnoor sector, on the India Pak border. On the first day, since there was an active encounter on, we were not taken to the border. On the 2nd day we had the opportunity to spend the evening at the Indo-Pak border. After dinner, I climbed the watchtower, on which was perched a soldier. I stayed with him for a few hours. From there, one could see Pakistan, their military trucks moving etc. Despite this being the international border, the tension was palpable. We spent time talking to each other, especially about life as a soldier. At the end of 2-3 hours, while coming down, I hugged the soldier… and both of us had wet eyes…. at least mine was wetter….
These are the men and women who give us our eventful days and peaceful nights, while they protect our borders… We should never let them down in any way….