Thevalliparambil Joseph Alex I.A.S and Bharathchandran I.P.S – both these characters have carved a niche for themselves in Malayalam cinema and they continue to inspire many Malayali UPSC aspirants. Nevertheless, it is a well-known fact that an IAS/IPS officer’s life is not as cinematic as shown on screen. No collector is ever going to blast the official vehicle of a Minister like Joseph Alex!
Here, in Kerala, we have witnessed the phenomenal contribution of few IAS/IPS officers through their steadfast integrity and generosity. All of us have a lot to learn from them and it is important that we chronicle their life stories for the coming generations. However, Kerala was recently shook by the drunk-driving case of Sriram Venkitaraman, one of the most vibrant and ethical officers in the recent past. Let us hope that our officers will have the “Sense and Sensibility and Sensitivity” (the most famous rhetoric of Joseph Alex) to hand-hold them at all the important junctures in their career.
Here are a few officers who we would like to salute for their contribution towards making Kerala God’s own country.
Prasanth Nair a.k.a Collector bro
An advocate turned bureaucrat, Prasanth Nair IAS through his unique and creative way of administration, has earned a permanent spot in the hearts of the people of Kozhikode and in fact, the whole of Kerala. Affectionately called as Collector bro, a name that suggests his openness, his tech-savviness and out-of-the-box thinking, Prasanth Nair an officer whose life can be made into a movie. During his stint as the Collector of Kozhikode, he came up with numerous projects like Operation Sulaimani ( to address the hunger in urban areas) and Yo Appoppa ( a project which addressed the plights of the elderly). Many of these projects continue to this day, even after he has moved on to his next official assignment.
It is a well-known fact that though we belong to the most literate state in the country, with a fair share of rationalists, the stronghold of organised religion in Kerala rooted way too deep. Then came a collector who openly advocated Dingoism (a parallel movement that worships Dingan, a famous Malayalam comic book character, to make people aware of the futility of organised religion). He did so because he believed that the current scenario doesn’t offer a chance for people to put forward any logical argument against organised faith and becoming a dingoist was the only way out.
A movie enthusiast at heart, collector bro had a brief acting stint in Ajay Devaloka’s Who, has directed a short film Daivakanam, and has co-written the script of Diwanjimoola Grand Prix.
Prasanth Nair IAS is indeed a role model for every UPSC aspirant.
This lady IAS officer is a living example of the quote “Action speaks louder than words”. T.V. Anupama, a BITS Pilani alumnus, gave up a lucrative career to fulfil her father’s dream of her becoming an IAS officer. Through meticulous planning and dedication, she cracked UPSC with an AIR 4 in her first attempt. Her vigour and enthusiasm did not die down with initial success.
She came into limelight when she got a party leader arrested for demanding ‘Nokkukooli’ (fare asked by organised trade union for allowing people to load and unload goods on their own). Many of us came to know about the role and responsibility of a State food commissioner after T.V Anupama ordered the ban of manufacturing, storage and sale of the spices sold by Nirapara, and various bans imposed by her on adulterated foodstuff across the state. Her stern actions were a wake-up call for Keralites, and organic farming was revived with renewed enthusiasm across the state.
She is also known for her reports on land encroachment by Minister Thomas Chandy that set off a whirlwind across the state.
When Kerala was reeling under the ravages of the 2018 floods, this soft-spoken collector was in the news for breaking open the locks of Bar association council rooms to store flood relief materials. During the 2019 elections, Anupama IAS was again in the news when she rebuked actor Suresh Gopi for asking votes in the name of Lord Ayappa. She was ostracised by a small section for the same, claiming that she did so because her husband was a Christian. Being a dignified woman, she did not get into dirty politics.
Whatever her official assignments were, T.V Anupama stood strong as an epitome of professionalism and humanism.
When Renu Raj topped the UPSC rank list in her first attempt, she broke many stereotypes. She achieved this phenomenal feat when she was working as a doctor and married too. Renu Raj is an inspiration to many UPSC women aspirants.
She is well known for her actions against land encroachment in Munnar. Even when a legislator chose the worst possible language to rebuke her, she stood her ground and went on to do the needful. A practical woman, Renu IAS has been very clear about the fact that Collectors who we see in movies have nothing to do with reality. She went on to add that she has no intentions of changing the society overnight but she believes that every right step she takes will definitely steer the society in the right direction. She is also very passionate about spreading the benefits of education in poverty-ridden Munnar.
This iron lady is also a trained classical dancer and has gathered many accolades. We wish this beauty-with-brains all the success and strength in the coming days.
Merin Joseph IPS
Merin IPS was a trending star on social media even before she took up her first official assignment. Nobody could believe that such a pretty woman could adorn a Khaki, which is stereotypically known to be a tough man’s uniform. Many even thought that this was just one of those fake news making rounds on social media.
Cut to a few months later, the same media that gave Merin Joseph a warm welcome, casting her in a different light. From making a constable hold an umbrella for her to making an MLA take her picture with Nivin Pauly, she was in the news for not so many good reasons. However, Merin Joseph IPS stayed calm and said that she is a professional first and all the media attention, whether good or bad, was not going to affect her. The way she handled the Penkal Otrumai protest, which incidentally happened during her initial days as Munnar’s ASP, was a sign that she was much more than a pretty face. She became the youngest officer to command the Independence Day parade in 2016. It was a treat for our eyes when we saw a woman officer commanding such a big battalion.
Unda, one of the best movies released in Malayalam cinema recently, beautifully portrayed the angst and difficulties of a police unit sent to other states as part of election duty. Interestingly, Merin was one of the first lady IPS officers to command a troop outside the state for election duty.
When Merin raised her voice against a famous media house for portraying IAS/IPS officers as just pretty faces, she gave us a powerful lesson that women are capable of much more.
Recently, we all read the details about how a team led by Merin got hold of a criminal in Saudi who fled after molesting a child in Kerala. The way she coordinated with various international agencies like the Interpol, and her sheer determination to bring an offender to justice was like something straight out of a Mollywood movie. The same people who considered her as nothing but a pretty face now proudly calls her a Lady Singam.
Sometimes we Malayalis fall in love with some non- Malayalis so much that we accept them as one among us. Be it Sumalatha or Sai Pallavi in the movie industry to Yathish Chandra IPS or Vasuki IAS in bureaucracy.
One of the most loved IAS officers of Kerala, Vasuki IAS has an interesting and inspiring past. She chose MBBS as a career because she wanted to serve society. A brilliant student, Vasuki was called “Vampire” in her college days because she would literally hunt down people for blood donation camps. She soon realized that she could serve only a few people as a doctor, and so decided to pursue IAS. Along with her husband, Dr Karthikeyan, she cracked the UPSC enigma and today the two of them are revered and adored across the state.
She has done quite a few amazing things as the Collector of Thiruvananthapuram, like her waste management initiatives. However, what will never fade from our minds is the motivational speech she delivered during the 2018 Kerala floods. The entire state echoed back with goosebumps crying out ‘ohoo!’ to her slogan of ‘oo podu!’. Such is the charisma of this strong, pretty women that her words were just enough to encourage the citizens of this state to fight back the ravages of the flood.
That was our list of officers who we feel should be an inspiration to all. Do you have others who we should look up to? If so, please let us know in the comments section below.