A civil servant’s undeclared annual returns

A civil servant’s undeclared annual returns

In 1981 it was clear to me that I was joining the teaching profession. My university department head was gracious in offering a position as ‘Research...

In 1981 it was clear to me that I was joining the teaching profession. My university department head was gracious in offering a position as ‘Research Associate’ where teaching PG students and pursuing research were twin tasks. I expressed my gratitude to my teacher who taught Public Administration and politely opted to stay with teaching graduate classes only. However, fate willed otherwise and soon I left for Visakhapatnam to search for my destination in life albeit with Sri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar Gold medal in my hand. I continued to believe that teaching is my forte what with over four months of teaching to graduate classes.

Sylvan surroundings of Andhra University with huge class rooms and very familiar teachers there were all so inviting to me. It was more or less clear to me that I will get enrolled for a Ph.D or M.Phil programme and then move into a PG teacher’s role. This short lived dream was cut short by advertisement issued by U.P.S.C in a daily newspaper. My father enquired about that advertisement and motivated me to take that exam. I was initially reluctant. I then turned diffident before yielding to his wise counsel. It seems he wanted to take that exam but did not get required support from his teacher and guide. It was ‘pitru adesam’ and I got into the mood of the exam. I kept M.Phil as a fall-back option. Noticed the syllabus for combined Civil Services was huge and began consulting faculty in Andhra University on second optional. Father took me to Prof Radha Krishna Murthy in Dept of Anthropology and he was so helpful giving introduction to my second optional of Sociology.

Appeared for the prelimenary exam at Banquett Hall, Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru. Soon I packed my bags and left for New Delhi to try for admission in Jawaharlal Nehru University to persue M.Phil. Prof RVR Chandra Sakhar Rao and Prof A Prasanna Kumar of Andhra University helped me to prepare synopsis of two possible topics for research studies. For some time I was riding two horses. I completed course work for M.Phil work from Centre for Political Studies in JNU. On the other side my travel to Shahjehan Road also fructified and I was selected for prestigious Indian Administrative Service. Blessings showered on me especially by Divine mother at Jillelamudi catapulted me to this position.

My father’s dream has been fulfilled. I did not realise the significance of getting allotted to native or home cadre. My job took me to places in the state whose names I never heard before. I started interacting with people of different backgrounds in Nalgonda district and though all spoke Telugu, their idiom and style was different.

COVID stalled the dynamic world like never before. On the roads, on the seas and in the skies there was no movement. The noisy streets wore eerie silence and except the television there was no noise emanating from our vicinity. Fortunately in the family we were affected by the virus one after the other. Each of us remained isolated in our respective rooms most of the time. This day is my date of retirement having turned sixty. Fortunately for me all the process was satisfactorily completed to hang up my boots. I am away from my place of work and my cadre. How soon over thirty seven years have rolled by. I still remember our early days in training and our matador van in which we were travelling to Institute of Administration. I remember my district training when I was the first service officer to go to Nalgonda district for that part of crucial training. I was so taken aback when I learnt that on the first day I went to make an official call on the Collector, he received his orders for transfer. As someone who believes in omens, this development shocked me. On this day of retirement all these images were quickly rolling down the memory lane. My stay in tribal areas of Eturunagaram and the worst floods in the Godavari in 1986 and our earnest attempts to relocate tribal habitations to safe locations did flash in my mind. In spite of visible political differences between state and union governments, our proposals for dis-reservation of reserve forest made then were quickly cleared. At so many places the lovable local tribals thanked the administration for such a speedy delivery of house sites.

Tribal areas of Parvatipuram were very different to administer. The early Naxabari movement led by Sri Venkatapu Satyam and Sri Adibatla Kailasam sprouted from these very parts. The tribal leaders were targeted and several of them were imprisoned by state. So amidst the poverty, illiteracy, backwardness and a host of other challenges, the tribals possessed a high degree of awareness.

In some locations in my early days I faced resistance of a kind. I saw tribals were very unhappy with their situation. In a village called ‘Peda Tholu manda’ or P.T. Manda for convenience sake, the local tribals were reluctant to seat me on a chair offered by an attender accompanying me. I was taken aback. But I realised that behind the anger was a disappointment and their seeing the irrelevance of an officer in that ITDA organisation. Of course, from the same village I received so much affection and respect as I moved forward with our programmes. Especially education and horticulture on ‘podu’ lands were appreciated by tribals.

All these images were flashing on my mind. I am retiring from service which gave me chance to move with the people and to work for the people. I can visit to any of these places and seek their shelter and succour. So many families saw me as their own. Is this not a huge wealth that Civil servants can earn and need not declare in their annual returns! What if I have not got a farewell as a Chief Secretary. Have I not received as Executive officer of TTD? How can I forget the love and affection of all those employees and devotees of Sri Srinivasa. Strange are the ways of fate.

Balance sheet entries are made in inscrutable ways!

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