By: Lunminthang Haokip

Good News From Delhi: The wait was over on 2nd March, 2012. Ever since the names of 14 Manipur Civil Service (MCS) Ofiicers including this author were reccomended by UPSC on 12 December, 2011 for induction into Indian Administrative Service, IAS in short, we had been keeping our fingers crossed. Finally, the DoPT, GOI order came out on the 1st March, 2012 and the same was faxed to the Chief Secretary of Government of Manipur on the next day. The official intimation made the family circles of the 14 new IAS-promotees of Manipur and their well-wishers erupt in joy and happiness.

My Proffessional Story: Fresh from an M.A course in English Literature with ambitions higher than the University walls, in 1981, I appeared in SDC written exam and was selected by MPSC as Sub-Deputy Collector after an interview. In 1982, I cleared the Mains of an MPSC-conducted exam but failed to get through the Interview. My marriage in 1983 doubled my responsibilities as a son and a brother. I gave up competitive exams till the fire of the zeal to compete was rekindled in 1990. As a last resort, I sat in another MCS Written exam on behalf of family’s bread and jam. By God’s grace, I became an MCS Officer of 1991 batch.

The Initial Postings: In 1991, when the MCS results were declared, I was already serving my State Government as Chief Executive Officer, Khadi & Village Industries Board as an MCS-promotee. I was made to continue in the said post till 1992 when I was transferred to Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council, Kangpokpi as CEO. The two jobs of CEO were similar in name but when it came to actual functioning, they were poles apart. But in that stint, I got the privilege of gaining the experience of rubbing shoulders with different levels of functionaries of MKVIB and SHADC, Kangpokpi.

Managing Saikul Sub-Division: In 1994, God’s grace followed me through the messges of Radio, TV and Itinerary preacher, Dr. Joshua Daniel. Weary and tired of carrying the load of sin-burden, the Lord convicted me and guided me to confess and set things right to deliverance. At that juncture, I was posted as SDO/Saikul. On the day of joining, my official Jeep was burnt down by supporters of a bundh-call of which I had no information. My wife and young kids were with me. They trembled as the vehicle was set afire. With some exertion of energy, we fled to safety with quickened breath. The action-packed joining-day-event hinted the shape of turbulent things to come.

Triumph In Trials: Conversion equipped me with boldness in administration and to aggresively preach the Word of God in my Sub-Division in the face of resentment and ridicule. The Lord saw to it that His unworthy servant was not harmed where he could have been. On 19 November, 1995, when communal hatred was still gaining momentum, I was offered the pulpit by Laikoiching Tangkhul Church in Saikul Block as part of Kuki-Naga pulpit exchange. An ugly bloody incident on 18 November, 1995 in Chandel district, halted all cross-community Christian leaders from moving forward to spread the Gospel of peace in their respective assigned local Churches on 19 Nov. Against better counsel and guided by the book of Esther Chapter 4 verse 16, I visited Laikoiching Church. The Lord blessed the step of faith. My promotion to MCS Grade-1 came about on 19 November, 1997 – exactly on the same day and month when I solely trusted God for protection two years back.

The Mid-Career Struggle: I landed up again, after my stint as SDC(1986) and CEO/SHADC(1992) at Sadar Hills Hq. Kangpokpi as ADC in 1997. My third posting at Kangpokpi, thanks to the powers-that-be, lasted 7 days. The Spirit of God gave me the inner strength to endure unfair treatment in transfer for no fault of mine. A beggar could not be a chooser, I consoled myself, and moved on as per orders. A short and non-eventful incumbency as Joint Director, MAHUD was followed by a brief posting as Additional Director, DIPR(2000-2002), GoM where I could lend my God- gifted flair for writing in the Introductory write-up of the State Government Diary and feature article columns of local newspapers.

The hardest struggle in my service tenure was during my tenure as Administrative Officer, Directorate of Health, GoM(2003-2004). My spiritual health was under the feeding and direction of Biblical constraint and restraint. There and then, I remeber finding the going extra-tough in funding my children’s education when I was signing on fat supply bills without batting an eyelid. Maximum drawal from my GPF account and egging on my Cashier for advance salary before the month-end took place in those days.

Blessings As ADC/Kangpokpi: K-Pians, short form for residents of Kangpokpi, called me foolish as I shared the Gospel in almost every official event between 2004 and 2007. But I knew I was foolish for the sake of my faith and “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Cor 1:27). That period was my golden tenure when I earned my spiritual spurs. The Lord used this foolish incumbent to bring down the price of rice at Kangpokpi market in 2005 when the small town was flooded with food-grains under SGRY. In the same year, moved by the plight of the Disables or “Differently Abled”, in a well-orchestrated “Disables Day Out” bash, the Lord enabled this foolish ADC – Additional Demand Contact? – with the help of the then Director, Social Welfare, to provide appliances like hearing aids, walking sticks and wheel-chairs to hundreds of the Differently Abled community of Sadar Hills, Manipur. It was one time in my life when I enjoyed being called ‘foolish’.

Dream-Planning As DPO/Chandel: My prayer to God to provide conference infrastructure in remote corners of my district was granted in 2007. My job as ADC/DPO and periodical i/c DC/Chandel, gave me scope to plan and implement MoRD’s Backward Region Grants Fund (BRGF) from 2007 to 2009. That Chandel District had lesser MLAs, Blocks and population than other backward districts of the State was an advantage. We could create larger assets under infrastructurural, productivity and human development sectors. New structures like Amity Conference hall at Chandel, HTC office building at Moreh and several Guest houses and Community halls came up under the 5 year programme. An innovative “Permanent Platform” constructed on the fringes of Maha Union Higher Secondary ground, Chandel DHQ, makes arrangement of national functions a lot more easy.

Moreh Posting: The post of ADC/Moreh was more like that of a glorified tourist guide. Not that I cribbed in any way. The border town witnessed arrival and departure of thousands of domestic and other-state tourists every day except on bund-days. As the head of Administration in the poorly-equipped cutting-edge border sub-district Hq, my main job was to welcome and see off VIPs and VVIPs at regular intervals. The state of affairs in development of India’s eastern gateway to ASEAN countries was low-key till the popular State Government and the respected Chief Secretary of Manipur, Shri D.S Poonia took special interest in Moreh. Under BAD – Border Area Development scheme, the C.S saw to it that there was no mismatch of role to player in creation of new infrastructure commensurate to the enormous importance of the border trading hub.

New Assets: Of late, the efforts of top-level Legislative and Bureaucratic pushes on projects paid off. Assets like Mini-Secretariat building, Transit Hostel for officials, Manipur Police Guest House, renovated Yatri-Niwas, Forest Rest House, Stay Facility Centre, Well-lit tiled side-walk from Gate no. 2 to Moreh Police station and an imposing ultra-modern Friendship Gate at Gate no. 2, Moreh, had been created. The decks had also been cleared for construction of a swanky sprawling International Bus Terminal replete with state-of-the-art facilities at Ward no. 8, Moreh to compliment the much-hyped up Mandalay-Imphal Bus service.

DC/CCPur: The love of God and the Nehru-mindedness of the popular Government made me Deputy Commissioner of Churachandpur District on 14th October, 2014. I must thank the Hon’ble Chief Minister of my State, Ministers and Legislators who helped me in getting this challenging covetted responsibility. Almost eight months have passed since I joined as DC, Churachandpur. The District was earlier known as “Land of Presidents” but I feel it would be more apt if the largest Hill District of Manipur inhabited by 2.71 lakh dynamic people is rechristened “Land of Precedents.” Nowhere in my earlier service tenures, had I seen the passionate love for E4: Education, Entrepreneurship, Evangelism and Employment as I have seen in this southern wonder district of the State.

Spared To Serve: When I look back, I am simply amazed by the way God had spared me, a trouble-prone fellow, and lifted a mediocre student like me to this level of prominence. Ever since the Almighty sensitized me in my 1994-conversion that He was giving me a better IAS – I am saved, I did not expect anything more. But my joy is trebled now that His grace gifted administrative IAS by promotion too. While thanking from the core of my heart all my illustrious superiors and helpful subordinates I came across during my service tenure, so far, for having tolerated a difficult man like me, I give the glory and the honour to God my Creator who promoted me from nowhere to somewhere.

A Wish Accomplished: As a student of Donbosco, Imphal, like my class-fellows some of whom became my glass-fellows later, I sub-consciously aspired to become an IAS Officer some day. But I was weak in Maths and Science. Yet God gifted me a flair to piece words together in an interesting way. In class, I wasn’t among the most brilliant lot. So as to achieve my goal, I had to zero in on my strength to cover up my weak points. I was touched by what Mithun Chakraborty had once said, “I was dark and feared that I might not be accepted as a hero. So I learnt to dance in such a way that people did not look at my complexion but at my dance moves”. God helped me hone my talent and skill to make me succeed in attaining my aspiration.

If a once “good from far but far from good” backblock-guy (hailing from an obscure village in Chandel district, L. Thinglhangphai with primary grounding in a village Govt. M.E School) like me could get into IAS, any other aspirant also can, if the sustained focus is on one’s core competence. The Scripture is true in saying, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all (Ecclesiastes 9:11)”.

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