Astik Kumar Pandey, an IAS officer who ranked 74th in the 2010 batch, is set to take charge as the District Collector for Beed. In this part, let’s focus on Astik Kumar’s journey so far.
His 1.5 years tenure as the District Collector of Akola was full of ups and downs. Within just a few months, he created an identity as a farmer-friendly officer.
Born in a village located in Gonda District, around 120 kilometers from Lucknow, Astik Kumar is still known by his nickname, Ashu. He is very optimistic and managed to clear his UPSC in the third attempt.
In the first attempt, he was unable to clear the preliminary examination, while in the second attempt; something did not work in the interview. But, efforts in the third try gave him what he deserved.
Pandey worked in Nashik’s Kalwan district during his training and managed the affairs at Jalgaon Zilla Parish as its CEO before moving to Akola as the District Collector.
Reports suggest the officer was earlier deputed as a part of Jharkhand cadre. But was included in the Maharashtra cadre under (sub-rule 2) the rule 5 of the IAS (cadre) rules 1954 on the grounds of his marriage. He married IPS officer, Washim District Superintendent of Police, Mokshada Patil.
History and Hindi literature are his areas of interest. People who have worked with him suggest they have not come across a better teacher than Pandey in their professional life.
The IAS officer never hesitates to give the officials an earful if they fail to perform their duties efficiently. The attitude has often landed him in a tight spot. But, he knows how to convert such a situation into an opportunity. Pandey is also known to offer support and motivation to his colleagues if they are trying something new.
The officer had made it in the headlines back in September 2018 when he made a surprise visit to Akola’s PWD office and cleaned spider webs as well as a filthy paan-stained wall himself to give a message to the lazy officials in a Gandhian way. He attracted controversy when he was alleged to have mistreated journalists while at his official residence for not offering coverage to events organized by the Akola’s famous Morna Foundation. The matter reached the chief minister’s office, and Pandey was quick to visit newspaper offices to seek an apology personally.
Some officers believe the rules are supreme while the citizens have zero value. On the other hand, there are IAS officers like Astik Kumar Pandey who think “Rules are for people” to make their life easy.
As far as the future is concerned, everything depends on how much Pandey adapts from his essay “GEOGRAPHY MAY REMAIN THE SAME; HISTORY NEED NOT” in his work life.
Challenges in the form of elections and drought situation
The Beed district is referred to as the state’s political hub. May it be the Market Committee Elections or Gram Panchayat polls, the state, and national media keep track of everything in Beed District. The young IAS officer has immediate challenges in the form of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Plus, helping the district’s population during the current drought situation is also crucial.
After serving the people in North Maharashtra, Vidarbha, he has got the opportunity to work for the progress of Beed. The expectations of the population here in Beed are not much. People live a peaceful life and wish to be treated respectfully by the administration.
The district’s infrastructure, including essential amenities, needs his attention. There are other issues as well. Fortunately, Astik Kumar has assumed responsibilities in the election season. He can check the election manifestoes/pledges/circulars distributed by various candidates to understand the local issues and create a roadmap for Beed’s progress.
The much-delayed Ahmednagar-Beed-Parli Vaijnath railway line, the closed thermal power station, the development of the area surrounding Parli Vaijnath Temple, the poor condition of roads, and problems faced by sugarcane farm laborers are some of the burning issues. Besides these, the scarcity of water and agricultural crisis also need immediate attention. The new District Collector needs to work with politicians in the district to resolve the entire mess and implement government schemes.
Elections and politicians would come and go. But, as the District Collector, Astik Kumar has got the first authority to fulfill the expectations of citizens.
Beed’s population earned an excellent reputation by standing in support of IPS Shahaji Umap and IAS officer Sunil Kendrekar from time to time when they were facing political pressure. Thus, Pandey can surely create history in Beed if he conducts a SWOT analysis and starts working from day one to fulfill the public’s expectations. As a journalist, I hope he never hesitates to come in front of the camera whenever there is a need to do so. I wish him all the best for his tenure.
Aniruddha Joshi is based in Parli town (Beed district) in Maharashtra. He works as a sub-editor in a renowned Marathi Daily. You can get in touch with him on his mobile number-8983555657.
(Published in Marathi as part of “Joshin che Tasika” article series.Written by Aniruddha Joshi in Marathi language, translated by Nitten Gokhaley in English)
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