It was Anand’s birthday on 12 Feb. Despite being down, he insisted on hosting a lunch along with his gracious wife on 13 Feb ; attended by his faithful colleagues SN Misra and NK Sharma. It was a pleasure for me to be also there. One did not realise that this was the last time I was seeing Anand, ever cheerful & stoic, down with a vicious cancer he had been quietly combating for the past two years, taken very good care of by Mrs Prakash and supported by his son Varun, many colleagues and friends. He was down but definitely not out. Alas, fate took him suddenly away on 21Apr, Ramnavmi, leaving a shattered family, many friends and colleagues, including me.
My association with Anand Prakash, then Chief Secretary of the Andaman Nicobar Islands, started on 8 Jul 2013, when I met him at Port Blair, before taking oath as the Lt Governor of the islands. Over the next three years we developed a close & valuable professional association, which flourished into a friendship, both of us cherished. Anand was a man of strong commitment and compassion; in our tenure together, I may have faulted him over many issues, but NEVER on his commitment to his job, and compassion for the people of the isles. One can recount many occasions when Anand’s commitment and persistence saw us overcome many tricky situations to the benefit of the people of Andamans. It’s not my intention to list his contributions, but whatever we could achieve in those three years, a large share must go to Anand and the very able team he led.
A man of great compassion, his doors were always open to the people of the islands. Not conscious of his status, he was approachable and helpful, persisting in his efforts to get people their due. Whenever I held an open public meeting , as CS, he was always there to suggest immediate measures to provide relief to the needy and deserving without any bias, which greatly benefitted the common citizen.
We travelled together across the length & breadth of the islands, including Anand riding pillion on a mobike I drove in a remote island in Nicobar, as also giving me company in a police jeep during ‘Lehar’, the devastating cyclone that swept the islands with great fury. We spent many an evenings together under the stars in camp settings on remote islands, and those who were present would always remember Anand’s softer, lighter side
He was a regular at the modern gym we had established and motivated me to join , also giving us a chance to interact with the sports enthusiasts as well. I reciprocated by getting the officers including Anand to join me in cycling, but did not succeed, barring a rare cycling trip to Carbyn’s Cove !! Anand was also a nature lover and a regular at bird watching club. A man of many parts, a lover of books, a keen observer, his advice and many intense discussions on matters philosophical and professional, would always remain a cherished memory of my stay in the islands. He also contributed immensely to the welfare of the tribals , through very carefully thought out initiatives in consultation with the experts.
I would be failing if I do not highlight two qualities of Anand which stood out : his personal & professional integrity and his loyalty – to his job, to the people and of course to me as the head of the Administration. On superannuation, he quietly faded away to persue a very private life amongst family and friends.
It is an honour for me to write this tribute to a trusted colleague and dear friend – Anand Prakash, IAS, erstwhile Chief Secretary of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, who enriched all who came in his touch, from afar or near. We will miss his soft tone, his smile, but above all his humility, which stood out as his most endearing attribute. We pray to the Almighty to give strength to his family, may Anand rest in eternal peace. “So Adieu my friend – You will be surely missed, but also cherished”.