Prasanth Nair, the Kozhikode District Collector, is well known for his active presence on social media. With more than one lakh followers on Facebook, this government official makes sure that residents get a chance to interact with him whenever they want. He also conducts many campaigns to solve various local issues.
“Thank you 1,00,000 compassionate hearts,” says the cover image of a Facebook page called ‘Collector, Kozhikode‘. It is page which is personally handled by Prashanth Nair, the collector who heads the Kozhikode district administration in Kerala.
He has more than one lakh followers, and the page is full of recent updates, and numerous interactions.
It is one of the very few social media pages of government officials where all the comments are answered. Issues are discussed here, campaigns are conducted and a lot of activity keeps taking place almost every day.
In spite of being criticized several times by politicians for his highly visible presence on social media, this government official has no plans to stop. He represents those administrators who want to reach out and remain connected with as many people as possible in this digitised world.
The page helps him solve many problems for the people of Kozhikode as well. It is full of photographs of campaigns asking people to take action in many different ways. One will also find people writing about their complaints and the issues they face in their residential areas. And the best part is that all queries, suggestions and comments are answered without fail, by Prashanth.
One of the very famous campaigns on his page is called ‘Operation Sulaimani’, which was started with the aim of addressing the issue of hunger in urban areas.
Through this project, he offers Sulaimani Coupons to people in the city who cannot afford a meal for various reasons. This could be anyone, people who are poor, or a traveller who suddenly finds that he/she does not have the required money to buy food instantly. These coupons are taken into consideration by a large number of restaurants in the city and are distributed at outlets run by student volunteers, at shops and government offices, and taluk and village offices. The restaurants which offer food in return for a coupon, get the equivalent money reimbursed from an account maintained by the campaign implementing agency.
He also conducted an online campaign to improve the facilities of Kuthiravattom mental hospital. Other than that, ‘Project 4N’ was an initiative started by him to fix potholes on roads. Then there was a campaign against urinating in public places – the ‘Trimoothri Photo Contest’, where he asked people to send in photographs of people seen urinating. All these campaigns got wide traction on the page.
But all of this has not been easy for the officer. Recently, Kozhikode District Congress Committee (DCC) president K.C. Abu, complained that the collector is spending a lot of time on social media and does not have time to receive phone calls. But Prashant simply says that he on Facebook to talk to the citizens and solve their. He believes that social media platforms are additional places to interact with citizens as much as possible.
“The people are out there in social media, so we need to be there. It’s as simple as that. Pasting notices on the notice boards of the village office is no longer the way to reach out to the public. Social media as a platform makes administration more transparent, seamless, fast, publicly accountable, and ‘informal’,” he told The Indian Express.