Who is VK Pandian, the IAS officer whose retirement led to a place in Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s Cabinet?
VK Pandian, a man who once served as the private secretary to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, is now poised for a more prominent role. His newly-appointed position as Chairman of 5T (Transformational Initiatives) and 'Nabin Odisha' comes just after he opted for voluntary retirement from his civil service career. This appointment grants him the rank of a Cabinet Minister and allows him to work directly under CM Patnaik.
The Odisha government’s 5T governance charter, which focuses on Transparency, Technology, Teamwork and Time leading to Transformation, was formerly spearheaded by Pandian as its secretary. This initiative aims to fast-track multiple projects and has been pivotal in the successful implementation of various state endeavours.
Pandian’s portfolio isn’t limited to bureaucratic governance. His role in executing large-scale projects like the Sri Jagannath Heritage Corridor is noteworthy. This forthcoming project aims to construct a 75-metre-wide corridor surrounding the ancient Shree Jagannath Temple, enhancing both its visibility and security. Additionally, the man has been a guiding force in the restoration of ancient temples across Odisha.
His experience spans across various aspects of governance and social welfare. He toured all of Odisha's 147 assembly constituencies within a six-month period, discussing issues of local importance and evaluating development projects. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pandian was also seen inspecting the readiness of healthcare facilities.
Before his roles in the upper ranks of Odisha’s government, Pandian had a diverse career in the civil service. A 2000-batch IAS officer, he commenced his public service as a sub-collector in Dharmagarh and later took on the roles of district collector in Mayurbhanj and Ganjam.
His contributions have led to the Odisha government’s flagship programme, 'Mo Sarkar', which elevates citizen involvement in governance. The initiative collects random feedback from citizens to assess the efficacy of public services. This is believed to hold government functionaries accountable for their actions.