The Man Driving Odisha to New Heights Through Transformation

History is witness, every nation, every state has its own time when it gets its due turn. Countries evolved and states progressed when leaders came forward for the citizens with the motive of welfare. Today, when we see Odisha transforming into a truly developed state and evolving as the hope and cynosure of the world, we can clearly see the men behind this and their acumen. While the 21st century belongs to Odisha and its time has come to lead in the country, its current leadership has proven that there will be no compromise when it comes to the growth story of Odisha.

The vibrant Odisha as we are witnessing today is a marvelous result of the toils of one person and he is nobody other than VK Pandian – the man of the moment. Under the leadership and guidance of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, VK Pandian is on a mission to do the remarkable. He is leading the transformation of Odisha into a truly 21st century state. Driven by his futuristic insights, Odisha today is progressing in every sphere. Be it Health Infrastructure and Indicators, Economic Growth, Education, Rural Development, Women Empowerment, Communication, Social Welfare or Industrial Growth, VK Pandian has left no stone unturned to transform. Today, on the occasion of the birthday of this great administrator, that also coincides with the 4th anniversary of the fifth term of Chief Minister Naveen’s Government, tries to piece together the successful journey that Odisha is embarking upon.

During the span of his twenty-three years career starting from being the Sub-Collector of Dharmagarh, Collector of Mayurbhanj and Ganjam to becoming the Private Secretary to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and steering the state through the Transformation Initiatives (5T), VK Pandian has left indelible mark wherever he has been. His down to earth approach, attitude and method of interacting with people has only worked wonders and grown his fan base with every visit he has made to the districts.

As a young civil servant, during the initial postings, Pandian’s leadership left a deep impression on governance and throughout his career, he committed himself to maintaining the highest sense of honesty and integrity in public service. He stood tall amongst his peers and proved himself to be a man with exceptional qualities of head and heart.

With a quiet and modest demeanor, he never succumbed to the common folly of a civil servant and always wanted to be a man of the masses. Those who know him closely know that humility was the quintessential feature of Pandian. His grasp of the issues faced by the state and insights into the solutions for them are reflected in his deeds of transformation. The radical changes that Odisha is today experiencing are due to his rigorous commitment to take Odisha on new heights.

His tough stance with millers in Dharmagarh when he was the Sub- Collector ensured full payment of MSP to the farmers and profits to cooperative societies. This also helped the Government to get highest ever revenue collections. This initiative got him the appreciation and felicitation from the Chief Minister. In his brief stint as the ADM in Rourkela, Pandian was instrumental in the Chend market eviction leading to people getting back their hard earned money after 15 years. Pandian was one of the youngest Collectors of the country when he took charge of Odisha’s largest district – Mayurbhanj. His daily visits to the remote villages of the district helped accelerating the development process. Mayurbhanj received the National Award for the Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities. He set in place a system whereby PWDs could be identified and rehabilitated at the village and block levels. This was later adopted as State policy. VK Pandian was the recipient of the Helen Keller Award for his work for the PWDs – a rare distinction for a bureaucrat from the state.

As the Collector of Ganjam, Pandian’s innovative and ‘Out of Box’ interventions continued to solve many problems of common men. Ganjam received the National Award for being the best district in NREGA implementation. He was instrumental in implementing payment of wages to laborers through bank accounts – well before it was adopted by the State or at the national level. The District administration transferred a record Rs 100 crore in this manner into the bank accounts of laborers – a feat that was unimaginable at that time. Due to his innovative idea, Ganjam got the Presidents’ Award twice for leading changes. His empathetic side can be seen his actions related to bringing improvements in the lives of HIV infected people. He was instrumental in setting up of publicly funded shelter home for AIDS orphans, which was established on a priority basis within a short period of time. As Collector, Pandian also received the national award for his rehabilitation efforts towards HIV-positive people in Ganjam.

A successful stint at Ganjam came to an end in 2011, when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, sensing Pandian’s capabilities, made him a part of his team at Bhubaneswar for a greater role in State’s development. Thereafter, for both VK Pandian and the State, there has been no looking back.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik found in Pandian a right administrator who is foresighted, young, energetic, articulate and hardworking. As Odisha took to the path of transformation propelled by the 5T Initiatives as envisioned by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, VK Pandian became its curator. Naveen’s 5-T Mantra has been the mainstay of the Government’s developmental programs and transformation. Governance in the State is also getting overhauled with the common man becoming the focal point. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s choice of VK Pandian to lead the 5T Initiatives became obvious looking at his overwhelming career.

Odisha’s transformation is not limited to any specific sector or area. The aim of 5T Initiatives is to bring in all round transform using the five Ts – Teamwork, Technology, Transparency, Transformation and Time-limit.

The 5T High School Transformation Program of Odisha has seen more than 6000 Government High Schools being transformed into world class learning centers with advanced infrastructure. Transformation of Health infrastructure through best and state of the art facilities has helped improve the health parameters. All District Hospitals have been transformed to give advanced treatment to the people free of cost. SCB Medical College, Cuttack is being developed into an AIIMS plus category institution which will cater to the people of the state in the next few years. Pandian has been overseeing the development of infrastructure in the state government hospitals and the focus is on best and free treatment to all.

Today, Odisha has become the Sports Capital of India. The reason behind this transformation can be attributed to Pandian’s love for sports and sportspersons. His efforts have helped the State to Host the prestigious Hockey World Cup for two consecutive tomes in the state and hosting many more international events. He has been instrumental in developing sports infrastructure in all the districts. Odisha today is being recognized as the best place for sports activities because of the Government’s proactive steps taken to strengthen sports infrastructure and commitments made to sportspersons from the State. Kalinga Stadium has hosted many international sporting events in the last few years. Odisha has built the world’s largest hockey stadium ‘Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium’ in Rourkela. For his contribution towards the development and promotion of hockey, VK Pandian was conferred with the prestigious President’s award by International Hockey Federation.

VK Pandian is also giving his best for the conservation and development of the places of religious and cultural importance in Odisha for the future generations. The development of the Heritage Corridor at Puri will transform the city into a World Heritage City. The Ekamra Kshetra Project in Bhubaneswar will reinvent the religious significance of Bhubaneswar as an important place of Shaivite worshiping. The Samalei project in Sambalpur, Chandi Temple in Cuttack, Nilamadhav Temple in Kantilo, Sarala Temple in Jagatsinghpur district and many other projects are being directly overseen by Pandian. While these will preserve and conserve the culture and traditions of the state, tourism in Odisha will also get a boost. The best example of this is Maa Taratarini Temple in Ganjam district. The transformation of Maa Taratarini temple has glorified the historical and cultural significance of this ancient shrine. An ardent devotee of Lord Jagannath, Pandian is undertaking weekly visits to Puri to see for himself the progress of the Heritage Corridor Project and other infrastructure projects.

During his several visits to the districts to review the various developmental activities of the Naveen Patnaik Government, he speaks to the masses, public representatives, students, and takes their feedback from the ground. This focused approach has been helpful in bringing smiles to the faces of the people.

Today Odisha has emerged as the best destination for investments from across the globe. The recent Make In Odisha Conclave proves that the time of Odisha has come and nobody can stop it from rising. Investment intents of more than Rs 10 lakh crores were received during the conclave.

Thanks to the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Odisha’s growth throttle continues and VK Pandian takes a pride place in it. Today, the state Capital is connected directly with international destination such as Dubai. Bhubaneswar will soon going to have its own metro rail in the near future.

Today women empowerment is not just a slogan in Odisha, it is a reality. Today, the mothers of Odisha are the bearers of transformation. Odisha’s Mission Shakti has been able to bring together more than 70 lakh women under one umbrella. They have become self reliant economically, socially and politically. The 5T Secretary has been taking feedback from the women SHGs during his visits to the various places and sees that they are given utmost priority.

The focus on common man and farmers of the State can clearly be seen in the efforts being made for them by the Government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The thrust for VK Pandian has been on improving infrastructure that will help the farmers who are the backbone of the society. A large number of irrigation facilities are being developed in the State that will provide required water for irrigation and help them the best farm output. Under his supervision, about fifteen irrigation projects are underway which will be completed by 2024. Some of the major irrigation projects being undertaken include the Deo Irrigation, the Lower Suktel Project, Chheligad project, Rengali South Canal, Rengali Left Canal project etc.

If there is one man who is believed to have been instrumental in taking the state to new highs, its none other than VK Pandian. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s confidence on the 5T Secretary has resulted in the state getting accelerated all round development and growth. The spontaneous outpouring of love and affection by the masses on VK Pandian during his visit to the various places symbolizes that they are seeing him as the leader who delivers his promises.

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