Friends, a compelling story of how I get those flowers for pookalam....
For the past many years, I have been doing the entire job of doing the pookalam singlehandedly, once the flowers reach home. But age is slowly catching up and this time I required the help of 2 assistants. It took us 6-7 hours to complete the job! My heartfelt thanks to my 2 assistants.
But I want to tell you a compelling story; the story of how I get those flowers. This has been captured by the Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhoomi very very beautifully in today's Chennai edition. Here is the link. (http://digitalpaper.mathrubhumi.com/m/1343926/Chennai-Edition/SEPTEMBER-04,-2017#issue/2/1). This is for the benefit of those who don't read Malayalam
I succeeded Mr.Mangat Ram Sharma IAS, as the District Collector of Krishnagiri in June 2006. As is the ‘dictum’ the ‘system', meaning your PA, your officers etc will not say anything good or bad about your predecessor, till they kind of deduce from your behavior or words as to how you are disposed to your predecessor. They will then act accordingly. I am sure this is the experience of many a leader.
So, the ’system” didn’t tell me anything about the many ‘goods’ that my predecessor had done. But I was seeing a lot of English speaking young farmers who came to my first Monday Grievance Day meeting in large numbers, and were saying what my predecessor had done for them and how it was now stuck. I could easily have ignored the petitions and the pleas of the youngsters, saying whatever my predecessor had done was bad, and only I could do any good, as is the wont in our Indian bureaucracy. But I called these boys separately for a meeting, and then realized that Mr.Mangat Ram Sharma IAS had indeed done a great thing with these boys. He had made three clusters of rose cultivating farmers in Kelamanagalam, Thally and Hosur, had got subsidy sanctioned from the "Small Farmers Agricultural Consortium", Government of India, had tied up with the nationalized banks for loans for 1008 farmers who were desirous of putting up greenhouses for rose cultivation, including micro irrigation. So, then what was the problem? The problem was that not one rupee had been disbursed by banks as loan to any of the farmers against the subsidy sanctioned!
Naturally I was aghast to say the least! I went after the bankers and the rest is history! Today most of the farmers are income tax payers! Since 2008, come an Onam, they will be the first to herald Onam to our mind, they make it a point to my home in Chennai in a lorry full of flowers worth lakhs of rupees, against my plea that I require flowers worth only Rs.1000/- which in any case I would be purchasing from the Koyembedu market as I have always done since I landed at Chennai…the pookalam that I laid yesterday was from the flowers that Paramesh Reddy and team brought from Krishnagiri. I am so proud to say this.
As Commissioner of Horticulture & Plantation Crops, I managed to get sanction for 2 centres of excellence, one for vegetables at Reddiyarchthram in Dindigul and one for floriculture at Thally, under the INDO-Israel project at a cost of ₹16.00 crores each. So when I went in 2012 to Thally along with the Israeli Counsellor Mr.Uri Rubinstein, I was astonished to see the farmers flowering and blooming....my hats off to Mr.Mangat Ram Sharma IAS for envisioning the project!