It was with a black-smeared mind that Kesavendra Kumar ascended the Wayanad mountain pass. The memories of black oil hurled at him, by some in the name of protest during his days as Higher Secondary Director, make him sad even today. Kesavendra Kumar who scripted a golden service history in Wayanad, the land of people with black-smeared lives, is Kerala’s ‘Green Collector.’ The yeoman efforts of this Bihari to reclaim a changing Wayanadan soil and man, is the subject of debates all over Kerala. The Orma maram project alone is enough for the Wayanadan soil and man to remember Kesavendra Kumar forever. No other Collector in Wayand history has implemented as many projects as he did for environmental protection.
A book called Kesavendra Kumar
Make sure your children are never denied of anything, even if you do not have anything for yourself. Fulfil their needs even if you have to take loans for it. If they still show no sign of coming up in life, recount the story of Kesavendra Kumar to them. The life of Kesavendra Kumar who was born in a most ordinary family of Sitamarti district in Bihar was ridden with crises and challenges. Father is an Ayurveda physician. He had three sons. There was simply not enough at home to educate all three and give them a glamorous life. Kesavendra Kumar who was good at studies decided early on that he will not accept defeat in life.
After completing his high school education, he had enrolled for the Railway course. Even while working as a booking clerk in the Railways, he did not give up his ambitions to study. He registered privately for a degree with IGNOU. It was while his job and studies were progressing that the Civil Service desire germinated in him. When hard work combined with the strength derived from the vast universe of reading, the three letters I A S got suffixed to his name at the age of 22. It was the IAS of one who had studied by correspondence, the IAS of one who worked to pay for his tuition, the IAS of one who vanquished tears and hardship and was therefore it was all the more lustrous.
A warm human being
Kesavendra Kumar’s environmental protection activities are notable in Wayanad which is inundated with fake environment lovers. He might not speak non-stop about the environment and nature. But Kesavendra's projects are unique. Have a look at the project that he is implementing for the environment and you want to give him a salute, a perfect green salute at that.
Kesavendra Kumar brought in the order for regulating construction of multi-storied buildings at a time when hills and mountains were fast becoming concrete jungles. It took even the government by surprise. But Kesavendra stood frm on his stance that he had taken using his powers as Collector to the full. He drove sense into those who tried to pressurize him, saying, ‘I will have to go away from Wayanad sooner or later. But the people of Wayanad need this soil, while still retaining its virtues.’ Those who first opposed him later joined hands with him.
When asked why this hurry to regulate multi-storied buildings, his reply was that it was no hurried decision at all. He carried out scientific studies and due diligence on legal aspects for long eight months before issuing the order. He just did not want to trumpet all that.
As Orma maram spreads all around the country
When Kesavendra Kumar first put forth the idea of ‘a tree each for every voting person’ it was met with scepticism. But in the Assembly elections as democracy won hands down, so did the Collector’s orma maram project. As the voters alighted from the voting booths with indelible ink marks on their fingers, their hearts were filled with the joy provided by the saplings they carried in their arms as well. It provided the spectacle of democracy and tree shade coming together to lend shelter to the land.
Each election requires tons of paper. Thousands of trees are felled for this purpose. As repentance for it, every voter should plant trees. A project has been sent to the Central Election Commission (CEC) from Wayanad seeking to spread the idea all over the country. If it gets implemented Wayanad’s saplings can also stand tall, proud of the fact that they were pioneers in putting it in to practice. The Collector has also implemented a Green Wayanad - Cool Wayanad project keeping in mind Wayanad’s climate changes, human-wildlife conflict and uplift of the tribal populace.
Sacred grove in the Collectorate
Efforts are on by him to set up a small sacred grove behind the Wayanad Collectorate. The net result will be a green Collectorate brought about by planting a variety of bamboos and creating tiny lakes.
Support for the tribal population
The Collector can be spotted in the tribal colonies during holidays. Clad in T shirt and canvas shoes he visits the colonies to see their hardships first-hand. Colony Mitram project whereby direct colony visits are undertaken is progressing successfully. Also noted were Kesavendra Kumar’s actions relating to the housing construction scam. Projects like tree-planting in the colonies and raising the employability of tribal youth by imparting training to them in subjects like hotel management are also being planned.
Colleagues attest to the fact that come what may, Kesavendra Kumar is uncompromising when it comes to work. It is all a team work. As captain of the team he is always willing to put in long hours or stay up late. Colleagues point it out as an achievement that even after two years not a single accusation of corruption has been raised against the Collector’s office.
The world of poetry
An avid reader, Kesavendra Kumar is also a poet and blog writer. He spent his income from work also for buying books. It all facilitated his IAS preparation. Several of his poems have appeared in Hindi magazines. Wife Archana and daughter Anubhuti lend him encouragement in life and in the world of song and poetry.
Love of Malayalam
The Collector professes his love of Malayalam. He even likes to reply in Malayalam to questions posed to him in English. Even Malayalis will be awestruck to listen to him using tough words like Kudikkida certificate and Thandarpper register albeit with a bit of difficulty.
Be greedy in your dreams is the message the Collector has to give for the young generation. Do not just dream of becoming an engineer, dream of becoming an IIT engineer. IAS and IPS are certainly within reach of children from ordinary homes. Kesavendra Kumar proved it to us through his own life. It is a life that can very well be a guiding lamp for the new generation to get ahead.