“A small cog in a large wheel”- Naresh Nandan Prasad (I.A.S Retd.)
One felt very comfortable reading Naresh Nandan Prasad’s autobiography as the terrain traversed by him was very familiar to me as he was my colleague in the Uttar Pradesh cadre of I.A.S. Naresh served in U.P. , Uttaranchal, Government of India and in International organizations. Naturally he has a very rich and absorbing tapestry of experiences to share which makes the book a very interesting read. Naresh comes out from the pages of the book as anything but a small cog in a large wheel. In different postings he left his indelible mark by his initiative, creativity and positivity.
The book starts from his training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration at Mussoorie where he had a great time just like most of us. I can fully connect myself with his sentiments when he says that the days spent at Mussoorie are the best days in life. Endearing and enduring friendships are built and there is an immense sense of contentment and joy. Of course, for Naresh the memories would be sweeter as he met his life partner Anjali at the academy.
The remarkable thing about Naresh is that he took every posting in a positive light even if he had experienced initial disappointment. He made the most out of every chair he occupied confirming the belief that it is the officer and not the assignment that matters. There is immense potential in every job that one gets in the I.A.S to serve the people and bring about transformative changes. I was particularly impressed by the courage shown by him in getting the Etawah elections countermanded on grounds of unfair electoral practices even though the Chief Minister of the state was contesting from there. It is all the more significant considering that he was in the secretariat of the same chief minister before being posted as D.M. His integrity drew a grudging statement of praise even from a difficult person like Mr. T.N Seshan the Chief election commissioner. The more remarkable thing is that the chief minister concerned did not carry any animosity towards him.
More than the brilliant work he did as vice chairman Kanpur Development Authority it was his successful crusade against corruption in the authority which is worth appreciating. His creative side is evidenced in full bloom in the work that he did as principal secretary Tourism, Government of Uttaranchal. He made a mark in his Government of India assignments also and then spent more than a decade at an international organization at Geneva. The organizational politics that he experienced at Geneva makes interesting reading and only goes to show that human beings are the same everywhere. Naresh had more than his fair share of jealous bosses and colleagues during his career.
Civil servants particularly I.A.S officers would love reading this book. The style and flow of the narrative should attract other readers also especially those interested in leadership and public policy.
It is sad that Naresh is no more with us. His life story as sketched out in the book will remain with the reader for a long time.