Residents of the Akola district in Maharashtra have been criticising the callous attitude and inefficiency of the Public Works Department (PWD) and its inability to maintain roads in the area, for a while now.
So, when Astik Kumar Pandey, the District Collector of Akola gave the department a surprise visit, he got to the roots of why the behaviour of the public was justifiable.
Pandey was visiting Akola’s PWD to check up on the functioning of the department and find out if there were any issues that he could resolve. However, when he entered the building, he was stunned.
What he saw was a filthy paan-stained building with spider webs everywhere.
The matter was clear to him in an instant—officials who could not keep their workplace clean could never be able to do their duties efficiently either. No wonder his people were unhappy with them.
So, Pandey decided that if the officials could not see the filth by themselves, he would show it to them—with a typical Gandhian act!
He asked his assistants to get him a bucket of water and a towel.
Right there, in front of everyone, the IAS officer got to his knees and started cleaning the spit marks himself.
Surprised by what they saw, the PWD officials were shamed into realising that this was something they could have taken care of on their own, or better still, never dirtied their office in such an uncivilised manner.
According to a report by ABP News, it was only when the women officials pleaded with the district collector and requested him to stop, did Pandey actually give up his task. He gave the officials an earful and instructed them to clean the entire place within two days.
Perhaps the most inspirational thing about what the IAS officer did was that there were no sermons, his effort conveyed enough disappointment. Ideally, the office should have been spotless even before the surprise inspection, but if basic lessons need to be taught, there couldn’t have been a better teacher than Astik Kumar Pandey.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)