It is always a bliss to enjoy the lush greenery and warmth of cool breeze, one feel in Wayanad, a rural district in Kerala state. The high altitudes, the forest range, wildlife sanctuary, ancient caves always have a cajoling effect on the tourists. This is what encaptivates, the District Collector, Mr. Suhas Shivanna IAS, who is crafting his niche in God’s own country. He is the 30th Collector of the district and one of the youngest persons to be selected to the Indian Administrative Service. On par with all the accolades, this young, dynamic officer has a success story behind him- a journey of a Common man to an IAS Officer.
Suhas is someone who has made waves in Kochi, while serving as the Sub Collector here. He is one of the most charismatic and charming gentlemen one will come across. It seems that he continues to be in the same vein with his new role in Wayanad. The people in Wayanad have already felt a positive impact in a very short time since the collector took charge. Everyone listens to the problems of the tribes in Wayanad. However, Suhas is someone whom they feel will try to find solutions to all their concerns. This invariably makes him an important figure in their lives.
Tracing back to his roots
Hailing from the Garden City – Bengaluru, Mr. Suhas S. IAS credits much of his accomplishment to his parents. He believes that their hardship and determination have moulded him into a better person. He says, “My parents encouraged me to read lot of books as well as to take in as many outdoor sports or games. Their emphasis was to develop me into a balanced individual. I was fortunate enough to have studied in some of the best schools as well as have had good teachers. This helped to be who I am today”. Mr. Suhas’s father, Mr. C. K. Shivanna is positioned in the Indian Forest Service and serves as the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in Karnataka, while his mother is a homemaker. Due to his father’s transfers, they family kept migrating from one place to another, which helped him to improve his knowledge and broaden his perspective on life. Amidst all the pomp and glory, Mr. Suhas, never ever forgets to acknowledge his parents, especially his father, whom he considers his inspirational drive and attributes as the sole reason for joining the civil services. Starting at an early age, his parents rooted in him the seeds of civil services and encouraged him to become a Public Servant, as they believe there is no better way to serve the society. Reflecting their thoughts, Mr. Suhas firmly believes that there is no other profession apart from this, which provides a broader vision to serve the public thereby making a difference.
Stepping stones to success
Mr. Suhas had the best of his time during his college days. As he was more inclined towards the analytical bent of mind, Mr. Suhas chose engineering for his graduation. Mr. Suhas graduated in Electronics Engineering from P.E.S. Institute of Technology, Bangalore. In addition, he took up the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), not only cracked it, but also scored good grades. Then, he pursued his M.S. from Maryland University and the University of California. During this period, he was offered with a scholarship and a campus placement from Accenture, but he refused the offers as destiny had another set of plans for him. He opted for Civil Services, which he passed in 2012 in his first attempt.
Mr. Suhas shares his vivid experiences during his training period in Mussoorie. He was enthralled by the picturesque and tranquillity of Mussoorie. “IAS Training Facility in Mussoorie is like heaven on earth. It’s the place where leaders are made. It’s undoubtedly a dream for every civil service aspirant to get into the academy someday. It was a place where I experienced my many, ‘firsts.’ I will cherish those moments” recalls this young IAS officer. His training period span for nearly three months and the foundation Course covered all areas of Central Civil services. Classes were conducted by eminent personalities from different walks of life, who dealt on subjects including Public Administration, Economics, Law and Management. During this period, Mr. Suhas also actively took part in various adventure sports and his experience was equally fulfilling. In his words; “When you conquer fear, confidence becomes dear”.
Apart from the curriculum, according to Mr. Suhas IAS, one of the best part of the training period was the trekking expedition to the Himalayas. This adventurous expedition left a thrilling experience onto his mind, which he cherishes till date. For him, it was ‘Experiencing life and its limits.
Mr. Suhas also got the opportunity to peep into the real pathetic condition which dwelled on the rural areas. While the rich enjoyed the luxury, the poor ones were left ragged with minimum amenities. With his little knowledge, he tried to educate the villagers about their rights, government schemes, etc. This experience was an eye opener and Suhas felt happy for choosing this profession, as he couldnot have served the society in a much better way.
About his stint as the Fort Kochi Sub-Collector
Mr. Suhas, IAS started off his career as the Assistant Collector of Ernakulam and got his first posting as Sub-Collector of Fort Kochi which comprised of Alwaye, Ernakulam, Paravur and Kanayannur taluks. Mr. Suhas was popular during his first posting in Kochi as a Sub-Collector as he emphasized on the use of technology for effective administration. His first decision was to renovate the RDO office at Fort Kochi. It was a welcome move from his side and now the office stands tall and shares its beauty along with the Fort Kochi beach. He is a person who thinks that initiatives can always help for an efficient administration. He believes that an administrator should be aware of the grievances of the public. He structured the administrative functions of Fort Kochi office in a smooth and hassle-free way, so that the grievances were handled and addressed on time.
During his tenure, Mr. Suhas bagged the best Project Officer Award for Kochi SmartCity project. He was also appreciated for his efforts to introduce a good mechanism to curb illegal land reclamation and land mafia. He says “Land laws need to be simplified and systems need to be updated.
His tips on cracking the ‘IAS Interview’
According to Mr. Suhas, it is hardwork and determination which pays off at the end of the day. He shares some valuable tips on how to face the interviewers. First of all be confident and prepare for the interview with the bio-data form (DAF). Research on a wide range of topics, note the minute details, and while answering a question, support your statement with valid examples. Familiarize yourself with a few common difficult questions which is obvious from your form and arm yourself with answers prepared ahead of time. Always feel free to answer a question No in case of doubtful or unaware of the answer.
His take on Tourism in Kerala and its impact
Mr. Suhas gives all prime importance to tourism, Green Kerala and development of tribal people. His focus is to promote the tourism sector while conserving the biodiversity of Kerala. Mr. Suhas feels that tourism is yet another domain which needs to be exploited to the core, as it can bring a good amount of revenue to the government. Safety and Cleanliness are the two common things which the tourists sought most. Each citizen should work upon these and ensure that the guests are well treated. According to Mr. Suhas, tourism will continue to hold a critical place of prominence in Kerala’s economy (10%GSDP). With tourist flooding in, there has been a boom in Medical Tourism. The benefits of Ayurveda and Yoga are fully explored. Usually, tourists have an average stay of 15 nights per visit. However, he feels that apart from focusing on traditional tourism, we should expand it in other niches as well, giving more importance to the richness and heritage of the land. The Kochi Muziris Biennale is one such example which attracts lot of art lovers all over the world. Mr. Suhas had the privilege to associate with them and treasure the vividness of art and culture. He adds that such initiatives should be brought in to attract more tourists and shed light on our cultural diversity.
This Electronics and Communications engineering graduate believes that technology will simplify the system and make it transparent. Mr. Suhas says that, “Apart from the swift flow of records, taking a bribe becomes almost impossible when the whole process is automated”. He feels that going forward we should aim for more governance and less government. The government should only act as a regulator, it shouldn’t be a manufacturer.
Mr. Suhas plans to introduce PPP-model, which is a funding model for a public infrastructure project such as a new telecommunications system, airport or power plant. This strategy will hold promise for infrastructure creation only if it is financed properly.
This IAS officer also believes that it is not the big steps, but the small ones that matter most. Small changes make big impact. He says, “When I came to this office, there was only one computer, now all my officers have a laptop!” We are slowly looking to digitize records too. It’s a difficult and long-drawn process, we’re unsure if we should attack the new ones first, or start from the beginning, because everything is related”. Apart from this, he is an active blogger and shares his experience and tips through blogging. He is also active in the social media sites and try to respond to public grievances most of the time.
For Mr. Suhas Shivanna, no boundary is the limit for his actions. He has already taken lot of initiatives to make a change in the entire system because he believes that action can bring change. His latest initiative is to meet ten tribal chieftains every month to identify and tackle various issues faced by them. In addition, he is also looking forward to bring certain changes in the present government system.
- The System Concept – Bringing order to chaos
Mr. Suhas emphasizes on more governance and less governments. He cites that Bangalore is attracting a lot of investment and is at the receiving end of several development projects because it has simplified its systems to ease business. Kerala, however, hasn’t been able to successfully do this, despite being a greener pasture. “Even tourism is suffering, especially in a State driven by it,” he said. Everything is at a standstill, no applications are being processed, and this is dangerous for an economy, especially like Kerala’s which has the added burden of being an “artificial economy”. The effort is to bring in a systematic concept to the administrative activities. This will not only save time but also will be effective in implementation of the policies.
- Business expansion
Mr. Suhas explains that Kerala imports everything and it depends too much on its neighbouring states. He provides the solution of encouraging business, by strategizing employment in rural sectors. Ensuring an encouraging environment for small scale and large scale business for the active participation of the less privileged ones and thereby broadening the society. The social impact will lead to eradication of unemployment to a certain level.
- Land reclamation
Speaking on the recent issue of reclamation of wet lands and paddy fields, Mr. Suhas opines that efforts should be made by leveraging technology such as GPS and Google’s Maps to understand if and where land exists, irrespective of its nature, and if these are barren and unusable, efforts should be made to utilize them for development instead. Pressure groups and lobbies must emerge to steer policies on its correct course, he added. “Government should be held more accountable.” Mr. Suhas says that, when it comes to land, especially ecologically sensitive areas, attempts should be made to protect them. He also comments on the rising land disputes and recommends that the buyers should pay more attention while investing in land and do the due diligence, to protect themselves from further land disputes.
Tinge of his personal life
Mr. Suhas. S. is married to Dr. Vaishnavi Gowda and both lead busy professional lives. Apart from living in different cities, technology keeps them connected and makes life simple and easier. Both of them hail from the garden city and Vaishnavi is all set to join her husband in Kerala and continue her profession. Vaishnavi’s father, Rama Gowda, is also an IAS officer who is the Transport Commissioner in Karnataka. A sea food lover, Mr. Suhas, never misses out any opportunity in exploring the God’s own Country.
Chasing his dreams
Well, Mr. Suhas had better options in his hand before opting out for the civil services which included a good corporate job with a satisfactory salary or a Master’s degree with a placement abroad. He could have bowed down to any one of the offer. But, he chose to chase his dreams, as he believed ‘sky is not the limit’. This young vibrant officer is not only making waves but also inspiring many hearts through his experience. He sets us a perfect example to surmise that dreams are not meant to be seen and forgotten. With passion, determination, perseverance and dedication, one can always chase his dreams and achieve success.