“I ensured that the bureaucracy catered to the vulnerable groups which do not have a voice.”
Rajendra Ratnoo IAS joined Civil Services in 2001. While serving as Sub- Collector of Cuddalore, he coordinated the flood relief programme in Tamil Nadu during October 2004. He initiated the Community Kitchen as a pilot project, and this concept has now been mainstreamed into the common flood management programme. Following this, he managed the tsunami response in December 2004; the Chennai floods in November 2005 where he was given the special flood duty; Cuddalore floods in 2007; heavy rains causing loss to crops in 2008; floods in November 2008; phyan cyclone in 2009, flash floods in Kanyakumari in 2010, and the Thane Cyclone in December 2011.
In an exclusive interview with Rajendra Ratnoo IAS shares with Marie Banu his passion towards social causes.
Why did you choose to join Civil Services? Who has been your inspiration?
My father has been my source of inspiration. He was a very bright student, but could not complete his education to the level he wanted to. He worked in the District Collector’s office at Tonk in Rajasthan, and used to take me to the Collector’s chamber on Sundays.
This triggered my curiosity. At the time of my post-graduation, I internalized my goal and decided to dedicate myself for some socially meaningful and productive work either through civil services, or teaching, or working for an NGO.
My aptitude was towards social work. I again attribute this to my father. I was an above average student, but up to the 12th standard was not outstanding in sciences. Somewhere, at the back of my mind, I wanted to pursue Civil Services and therefore chose to study social sciences.
Would that be your advice for those aspiring to join the IAS?
For a student aspiring for IAS, he should choose a subject that he is comfortable with and should make note of the scoring trend. I believe that if we allow children, guide them and facilitate them to choose a subject where they have an aptitude for and interest in, they can excel.
As District Collector of Cuddalore District, how long do you think it would take for the farmers affected by the Thane Cyclone to restore their livelihood? What have been the government efforts to support them?
There are many areas in which we have brought in normalcy. For instance, we have restored domestic power supply as well as power supply in agricultural areas where there were standing crops. In that way we have minimized the damage as much as possible. Nevertheless, certain crops like cashew, jackfruit, and coconut will take years to yield as there has been heavy damage.
The government has come out with a very good package for the farmers and we will be coordinating the rehabilitation programme for five years. More than 70,000 acres of cashew fields have been partly or fully damaged and over 40 percent of the trees have been uprooted. This requires a huge amount of manpower and resources for cutting, clearing, leveling the fields, pitting for new saplings, providing new high-yielding variety of saplings, planting, watering, protecting the saplings from cattle, and providing inter-crops until such time the cashew starts yielding. For inter-cropping, the government would be providing all the inputs free of c