I happened to hear a wonderful lecture delivered by the present Madurai District Collector Mr. Sagayam, who is known for his straight forwardness, sincerity and fearlessness on 1st May,2011 in Madurai Readers Club meet. The result for his straight forwardness and honesty is that, he got transferred 15 times to different posts, all due to political moves. The present Madurai Collector is a man who really serves the country very silentlly. A man who is very clever and who knows how to use his powers for the well being of the society.
He started his speech with the uniques of each and every country - America known for its economic development, Russia for the Socialistic philosophy, China a land of ancient knowledge and wisdom, Japan for its hard working and good people and India, for its democratic nature despite its varying cultures and languages.
He said each and every individual should be a responsible citizen. He said he just exercised his duty as a collector to ensure fair elections as per the guidelines of the election commision. He thanked the people of Madurai and the Readers Club members for behaving like a responsible citizen by exercising their right to vote.
The collector said that whenever he visits a village he made it a habit to visit the government schools to see the facilities and quality of education provided there. He used to interact with poor children to test their knowledge level. He said that " the government schools are the last hope for the poor children to come up in their life". While during such visits teachers in that schools used to say that "that student of this school has become a Doctor, that student of this school has become an well known scientist, engineer etc. Sagayam used to ask " All right, how many of them you educated turned out to be good and honest human beings? The nation does not want teachers, scientists, engineers. It badly need good teachers, good scientists and good engineers and the good here means their character.
The Collector also narrated a incident in a school during which he questioned a 4th standard boy. The collector said that even the student of 7th or 8th std student in government school will fail to answer correctly for a simple question posed in english " What's your father?" Most of them will tell their fathers name as reply. But to his surprise the fourth standard boy answered " My father is a Potter". The collector said he was taken aback by the answer. Definitely this would have not been taught at school and the boy would have managed to learn by himself from elseware. When the collector posed him a question " What you want to become in future?" the boy answered " I am a doctor" The collector again said him you are just a fourth standard boy and how can you say that you are a Doctor now itself? The boy thought for a moment and replied " I am a future Doctor' The collector was all in praise for the student from a remote school who was intelligent and wished him good luck in future.
The Collector Mr.Sagayam also added that the language tamil grows and retains its value only because of students who learn in tamil in government schools and disseminate that learnings to others in their action and deed while they grow up and not because of others.
During independence the literacy rate was just around 30 %. But now the literacy rate has gone above 80 % in Tamilnadu. But earlier more people were good and honest. But now more were lacking character. What we study does not makes one educated. The degress like B.A, M.A, M.BA, B.E, M.E, M.sc, B.ed and doctoral degrees are just trainings that a person receives. They are not educated if they lack character. Unfortunately our education fails to build character.
He spoke about Diogenes who went with a lamp searching for something in the streets of Athens here and there. After watching him search for long time few people went and asked him " What are you searching for?" Diogenes replied " I am searching for good people". The collector added if that was the case 2000 years before imagine the plight now"
He stated that he is just an ordinary person who lives in the salary drawn from money people pay as taxes. All government servants are so and they take a oath that they serve the people with absolute integrity. Hence all government servants must exercise his duty with sincerity and honesty. Most of the time the government servants begins their life as a honest person. When they are sub collector they will remain honest. When they become deputy collector their honesty will degrade a bit. and when they become collector, it is likely that he will lose his honesty for safe guarding his personal interests. The political system and the external pressure exercised on a honest person makes him to change his stand. A true honest person is one who does not change his stand despite pressures and personal loses.
He added Martin Luther Kings quote that "the world is not bad because of bad people who are smaller in number. It is the inaction of good people against such bad people and bad things, that makes the world worse to live". So being honest is not only true to oneself but also being fearless to act against anything that is happening undue around oneself.
He narrated a incident when a disabled person made a request to him through a petition for a wheelchair (tri cycle for disabled). Normally such a request will take a minimum time of three months to be processed. Sagayam decided to help him up front. For this he has to verify only two things.
- Whether the person is the native of that particular village which comes under the district of Namakkal
- Whether he is really poor.
So he asked his assistant to make a call to the VAO of the concerned village and verify the credentials. As this is the era of cell phone the VAO was reached (he added sarcastically that VAOs can be reached because of this facility even if they are not present in their respective village). He then asked the concerned BDO to prepare a note for issuing the tricycle. Within an hour the tricycle was given to the petitioner. After giving the tricycle to the petitioner he asked the poor man " how you are going to take this tri cycle to your village which is 30 km away in a remote place?" The poor disabled man does not have a specific answer. So the collector came upon an idea. He asked the deputy commissioner to do vehicle checking of the lorries passing by the collector office and if anyone is found without records, he asked him to levy a fine. The collector said that the traffic regulations are so often offended, that the very first lorry they checked was found to be without proper documents. The lorry driver was given with two options - whether to pay Rs2000/ or to drop the poor disabled man along with the wheel chair in his village. The lorry driver preferred the later and the issue was solved. He said what would be more heartening for a collector than helping people like this?
On 5th Sept,2010 the collector was on his way to a educational institution owned by a freedom fighter's son to address on the teachers day event. On the way he observed two youth on a motor cycle, which was running out of control. He got suspicious and asked his assistants to check whether they are drunk and without any records. On checking it was found that the youth where in a drunken state. Also they did not carry even a valid driving license. The collector got angry and informed the RTO and asked them to seize the vehicle and register a case. One of the youth came to the collector and started pleading " please sir, please let us go. we will not repeat this mistake again" Saying this he took out a hundred rupee note from the pocket and tried to bribe the collector. The collector said " in this country one thing a person is very clear even in a much intoxicated state is this- You can get things done by giving bribe" What the collector said his true.People are accustomed and ready to give bribe since it has become a practice and as a unwritten rule in the government departments.
He narrated another incident during which a 6th standard boy came with a petition to see him. While interacting with him the boy said that his father and mother were of different castes. Owing to the love over her wife,his father has written the only property a hut house in the name of the boy's mother. His mother developed a relationship with another man, left his father and also forced him to evict the house along with his three children. The collector asked the boy to wait until he finishes up with other petitioners. Then he took the boy along with him to his house for the lunch. While having lunch, the collector enquired about his studies. The boy said he scored second rank in his class. On further enquiry the boy said that he used to run around in the school ground early in the morning, with a aim to become a IPS officer in future. The collector wished him good luck, presented him a dictionary and also said that he will take necessary action in three days. He assigned a deputy commissionar to the task and asked him to resolve the matter in three days. But the matter did not get resolved since the mother migrated to thirupur and also spoke through a lawyer. She did not turn up for disussion. The deputy commisionar was later assigned to Senthamizh maanadu duty at coimbatore and the matter remained pending. Later one day the Collector got shocked to read in a newspaper that a father committed suicide along with three children and presumably the boy was the one who sought help from him. He felt sad that he could not help a poor family even after their plight is brought to his notice.
He also stated, that he borrowing from a friend to meet the hospital expenses of her girl child Yazhini is a natural phenomena that could occur to any government servant who lives only with the salary given by the government for his services. ( Earlier a speaker praised him for this activity in a situation where he can demand lakhs of rupees as bribe). Peoples integrity will be put to test by such moments and one should not lose it.
He also said the story of clay buddha.One day in Japan, a buddha statue made of clay was transported from a old temple to a newly built temple. While transporting it started to rain heavily. The people got worried that the statue will dissolve and they tried to cover it. However the rain was so intense that it started to dissolve the clay. To their surprise, as the clay dissolved they saw a statue of Golden Buddha emerging. They realized that the ancient emperor who installed the Golden Buddha statue has covered it with clay to keep it safe from the hand of thieves. The collector quoting this story said that each and every one of us has a Golden buddha inside and only that we do not realize it. We should realize our inner strength and use it to fight against the evils like corruption which is plaguing the country
His way of speech was so inspiring and emotional that many of the people who participated in the meeting had tears accumulating in their eyes.
It is very rare to see a straight forward, honest, sincere, clever and fearless official.
One of the member in the felicitation speech said that "most of the bureaucrats will be ready to crawl when they are asked to bend a little: But the collector has the backbone to stand upright. It true.
These are some of the achievements of Present Madurai collector Mr.Sagayam
- First collector in India to disclose his assets in public.
- While working as DRO in Kanchipuram district, he sealed and locked the premises of a MNC soft drink company on complaint that one of the cool drink bottle contained impurities and after the lab reports said that the cool drink was unfit to be drunk. When he returned home after some field visits, he came to know from his wife that many politicians and even collector had made a call to him. He just replied that he was ready to face any action, if his action was found to be out of the way.
- While working in Namakkal district he put a halt to smuggling of kerosene and rice from ration shop by frequent raids. He has taken action against 300 transport vehicles on his own during his period as collector there.
- He put an end to a pollution problem caused by a unit where mass killing of Goat and sheep took place and their debris polluted the near by water bodies.
- "Kattidangaluku naduve kaanagam" ( Forest amidst buildings) is the scheme through which he planted more than7 lakhs trees in Namakkal district and also followed up for its maintanence.
- Uzavar Unavagam is the new concept he introduced in Namakkal district in which farmers where given a business opportunity of running a food stall serving traditional foods during evening hours in the same place where the Uzhavar Sandhaai is held.
- Instead of making people meeting him he went to villages along with other officials, stayed there during night and took action for any genuine request to fulfill their needs. Soon the people of Namakkal started praying that the collector should make a visit to their village.
- He visited various schools especially government schools and inspired both the students and teachers.
- He passed a circular insisting VAOs that they should stay only in their functional village as per their job guidelines which made VAOs to protest but on the other hand made people to come in full support of him.
- In Madurai after he was posted to ensure fair election here, he made even the most rude and adamant politician to run for his money by putting a check on all type of malpractices. A false complained was lodged against the collector that he was supporting ADMK, while actually he was performing his duty in a un biased manner.
- He raided the shops and godowns which stored Mangoes which where artificially ripened with Calcium Carbide and captured more than 100 tons of such mangoes, forcing the traders to come to a agreement on their won that they will hear after will not artificially ripen the mangoes.
His action will continue. provided if he continues in Madurai. All Madurai residents should pray that he should be in Madurai at least for two more years. That time is sufficient for him to transform madurai. But sure he will remain a night mare to non performing and fraudulent officials and criminal politicians.