22 October, 2020

How VK Pandian, Naveen Patnaik's Man Friday, Has Kept Odisha's Babudom On Its Toes

Pandian's early-to-bed and early-to-rise lifestyle and his unusual working strategies have taken top-notch administrators out of their comfort zone

V.K. Pandian, secretary of the BJD government’s ‘5T’ initiatrve
Photo by Sanjib Mukherjee
How VK Pandian, Naveen Patnaik's Man Friday, Has Kept Odisha's Babudom On Its Toes

Officials had never seen anything like it before. It was 4.30 am on Holi and the top brass of the Cuttack district administration, including the revenue divisional commissioner, central range, the collector, the twin city police commissioner and the Cuttack Municipal Corporation commissioner—were all present at the Badambadi bus stand to receive V. Karthikeyan Pandian, CM Naveen Patnaik’s Man Friday and secretary of the ‘5T’ (team work, ­technology, transparency, transformation and timeline) initiative. While Pandian was in a track suit and T-shirt, the officers were all formally dressed. It was, of course, nothing new for Pandian. Insiders say his day starts at 3.30 am with yoga and ends only at night. Like his boss, he is known to be an early-to-bed man. But for the officers who had to turn up at that unearthly hour, it was not something they looked forward to—­certainly not on a government holiday.

Ever since Pandian started his whirlwind tour of the state five months ago, often in a chopper, in a bid to energise and tone up the...



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