It has been one year at the AP Chief Minister’s Office. In these 365 days here, every day has been a working day. I have not taken an off from work mentally nor have I felt the need to switch myself off completely. Reason: I love what I do and enjoy it. My work physically strains me. But, not mentally. Sundays are mostly working days and I don’t crib about it.
If there is one thing I have learnt every moment, working with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu (CBN), it is this – Work hard, come up with new ideas, new thoughts and new ways to work things out. I do not fall into the prestigious category of IAS officers nor do I fall under the category of government employees. The office I was hired for was a new one when the Chief Minister took office in 2014. I’m sure he must not have been sure of how this idea would work out for him. But, he dared to experiment. I’m glad he did and because of that, I have a job in his office today.
Being at the CMO, I’ve had some of the most memorable experiences.Though, as a reporter, I’ve had great experiences on field and otherwise too, this job has got me to see the workings of a government, policy-making, decision-making, crisis management and war-room discussions. These instances have put forward the various faces of Chandrababu Naidu as the Chief Minister and how he dealt with them.
Though it took me a considerable time to enter the CM’s chamber, I never wanted to rush things. Gradually, sitting in daily review meetings with the Chief Minister and other officers became a norm. However, I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of the high-level meetings with foreign delegates, industrialists, etc. and witness how discussions happen over major industries, projects while the Chief Minister gives ideas on improvising projects with a futuristic outlook.
In all the discussions, I’m just an observer – an observer who absorbs everything. But, that’s how the Chief Minister has had a positive influence over me. If I do not understand points from the meeting, I come back and research about them in order to learn new things. He makes me think hard about new ideas. Even If I don’t contribute to the discussion directly, I’m lucky to have been part of these learnings.
I’m glad that I’m witnessing how everything is being planned meticulously to build the state of Andhra Pradesh from scratch. I’m seeing how the Chief Minister is identifying potential in something that has been discarded by others. I’m seeing how he finds even waste very useful. When I see him doing that, I know we’re in good hands.
Few of the things I have observed in the Chief Minister closely are that he enjoys conversations and brainstorming. He loves spending time with youngsters who are full of ideas and listens to them. But, as one of the young people at the CMO, it is difficult to compete with him because he is always updated with the latest trends and statistics. Sometimes, I wonder whether remembering so much is possible for a human being.
As a Chief Minister, I don’t think there will be a better administrator than him for Andhra Pradesh. What makes him unique is that if he doesn’t know about anything, he finds out. He is a continuous learner. And, that is an important lesson for youngsters of today.
Here’s the truth about him. At 65, he doesn’t have to sleep at irrigation projects or rush to bus stations at midnight and solve problems for passengers like a station master till 5 am in the morning. He could have chosen to be a Chief Minister who goes back home every night and sleeps comfortably. But, he hasn’t done that and believes he can do more for his state. He is always striving to make Andhra Pradesh as the top-performing state in India.
For people working with him, it is difficult to catch up with his speed. The thought of resting doesn’t cross his mind. His brain is his strength and his body a machine.
One of the best instances of working with him is when Cyclone Hudhud struck AP. From directing officials to instruct people much before the Cyclone hit us to coordinating in the war-room with ISRO, National Remote Sensing Centre and other organisations, government officials and constantly monitoring every action of everyone involved, he proved to be a master of crisis management. I’m glad that I was part of it.
I have seen several instances of him being angry with officers for unnecessarily complicating things. In most of his interactions, he emphasises on the need to realize that each one of us has social responsibility. He cares for people, genuinely.
On the flipside, being here, I’ve seen some of the worst human beings blinded by their egos and positions. But, all these have only helped me grow as a human being and become a better person.
Three of the most important things I’ve learnt from the Chief Minister are to be optimistic, to dream big and to believe in yourself. “Sky is the limit,” he always says.
By Tejaswini Pagadala,
Communications officer at the Office of the Advisor (Communications), Govt. of AP