My experiences


People wonder how I manage to do so many things successfully in such short times. I am able to do it only because I have almost perfected the art of managing my time and managing people. I don’t take work home or home to work. In fact all work can be done between 10.00 am and 5.45 pm. There is no need to work overtime or on holidays. We are like mobile phones; we need to recharge, and that recharging can happen only when you spend quality time with your family or do things that make you feel joyous.

Let me take the example of managing a district. A district Collector has to conduct about 75 meetings in a month, and this they do by staggering it all over the month. But this has a problem. For example, the heath department has 12 meetings, and it is mostly the same set of officers who have to attend all these 12 meetings. I mulled over this challenge, because a Collector’s power comes from travelling all over the district, meeting people, understanding their problems first hand and taking acting on them; and one needs time for this.

That’s when I hit upon this idea, that I would conduct all 75 meetings in 7 working days from the 1st of every month; one day for health, one day for rural development, Mahalir Thittam, NGOs, one day for Revenue, L & O, land related matters, one day for SC/ST, BC/MBC departments, one day for health, one day for education, child labour, JJ Act etc. and so on.

But the crux of this is how to minute these meetings, i.e. what was the discussion, what decision was taken and who should implement the decision and by what time, and ensure that the minutes were adhered to. Thus I had almost 20 days a month for travelling, ideating, innovating and implementing…that’s why I was able to make huge transformational contributions in Sivaganga and Krishnagiri districts, and of course on all jobs I have held.

Opening the sluices of the Vadavar supply channel

An incident that happened on the very day I took over as the Sub Collector of Chidambaram, Cuddalore district in 1997, fresh from being an IAS probationer, remains green in my memory.
It was raining heavily for the past many days and it was raining that night too. At about 2.30 am, I received a call from the SDO PWD of Veeranam Eri, that the Vadavar (supply channel for Veeranam Eri) could breach any moment! Frankly, I had only heard about Veeranam Eri, forget Vadavar supply channel or for that matter, the protocol for opening or closing sluices or dams etc.!!!
Immediately, the driver was summoned and I was on my way; when I reached the Vadavar channel at about 3.30 am, there were about 6-7 people in pitch darkness and pouring rain, including the Tahsildar of Kattumannarkoil taluk, the Kattumannarkoil Town Panchayat President Mr.Kannan, the SDO PWD and a few Laskars of PWD. The situation that I confronted send a chilling feeling down my spine… the Vadavar was in full spate and something had to be done immediately! The only option was to open the sluices, with damage to crops being a possibility. But human life was more important! The SDO informed me that there were some protocols under normal circumstances. But here was a situation of dire emergency. Without wasting a moment (one could not inform the Collector as there were no mobile phones during those days, and my vehicle didn’t have a wireless set), I took the decision to open the sluices! All of us had great difficulty opening the rusty sluice gates, and there were many!

To this day when Mr.Kannan telephones me, we remember those nerve wracking moments in pouring rain…which probably saved many lives…. thus you can say, my official life as an IAS officer started with managing a crisis, with no prior experience or knowledge…. I am sure many an Officer has such a story to narrate.

Trying for a world record

Trying for a world record: all GOVT servants to have email id

When I was Collector of Sivaganga district in 2003, another Collector, Mr.Sudeep Jain, IAS of Nagapattinam district had established a Guinness record: planting the maximum number of trees in one day! (Of course this record was further broken by Ms.Supriya Sahu IAS, another TN cadre officer a few years later, when she was posted in the Nilgiris)

Inspired by this, I too wanted a Guinness record…. And I told my people, if we font get a Guinness record, it will at least be in the Limca book of records, or it can at least be a Sivaganga record. I thought hard… what could be an innovative thing to do? Then I hit upon this idea: that every Government servant in Sivaganga district, irrespective of his or her rank will learn and use emails as a form of communication.

All hell broke lose! The Office bearers so the Sivaganga district Browsing centers association met me and informed me of the difficulties they were facing on a daily basis as all kinds of Government servants were thronging their centers because Collector had issued this fatwa! I could understand fro their conversation that they smelled a good business opportunity at this! They were asking me if I can pay from the Government side for teaching all Government staff computers and Internet, and that they would share the business! I had to disappoint them saying that my wish was that the Government servant had to learn it on his own volition! I couldn’t say that there was no way that Government could fund this crazy idea!

Be that as it may be: I was transferred suddenly, after about 8 months on a very contentious issue of the Kandadevi temple chariot procession. The day I got the transfer order, in the next couple of hours we packed up and by evening we were on our way to Chennai, as I was put on compulsory wait…

When I reached Chennai and for lack of work was browsing al the time….and… I was pleasantly surprised to see a mail…and that from my driver Subbhaia in broken English…expressing his anguish at my transfer…


In October 2013, I was at the war remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh City along with my MPM batch mates; and I can tell you that the images I saw there were most gruesome and bizarre in their starkness of the depiction of what happens during war…. the cruelty of man against man…there may be a victor or the vanquished in war…. but ordinary people, soldiers, commanders, all, irrespective of which country they are from, get savaged, brutalized, and butchered in the most heart-wrenching manner….and sadly it continues even today……

What also struck me was the innate resilience of a the Vietnamese people, their fight for survival, as epitomized by their creation of the underground chain of tunnels in Chu Chi province, their coming out of the human crisis in 30 years and growing into a strong economy…. I am in complete awe of this beautiful Country!