Indeed, Minister with a DIFFERENCE!!
Read on to know why this holds true for him, truly inspirational figure, proud to have him as Tourism Minister.
Mr Alphons is a 1979 batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre. Alphons became famous as Delhi’s “Demolition Man” when he headed the Delhi Development Authority, having cleared DDA areas of encroachment removing around 15,000 illegal buildings. This got him listed in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Young Global Leaders in 1994. Born in Manimala village in Kerala’s Kottayam district, he pioneered the literacy movement in India and as District Collector of Kottayam, he made it the first 100 percent literate town in India in 1989.
Kannanthanam had set up the NGO Janshakti in 1994 for social works. On retiring from IAS, he contested the Kerala assembly polls in 2006 to become an independent MLA from Kanjirappally. He was also a member of the committee to prepare the final draft of the National Education Policy 2017. He also authored the book “Making a Difference”.
Alphons’s life is nothing short of a miracle. Having passed his high school from a non-electrified village Malayalam medium school, he became one of the toppers of the 1979 batch of the IAS. He vowed that he would never be a door mat for the politician, but would be a voice of the hapless citizen. For 27 years he was their voice, running pitched battles against the corrupt system. He was rated to be one of the most competent officers in the history of the civil service. He was on TIME magazine’s list of 100 young global leaders in 1994. He is an inspirational orator and has spoken to over three million people, mostly students, in the past 35 years. In 2006, he quit IAS, contested as an independent from Kanjirappally constituency and got elected as an MLA on 32nd day with a huge majority, spending less than Rs10 lakhs. He decided that he wanted to be a different kind of an MLA. He drove his own car and lived in a tiny room in the rest house and got allocated Rs 350 crores for the constituency and won the best MLA award.
Power to bring Happiness
“Alphons believes that ultimately there is only one purpose in life: HAPPINESS. It is his strong belief that we should leave the world happier than we arrived. Lots of people believe in happiness, but mostly for themselves. Alphons believes that we got only one life and our destinies are deeply interwoven. There can be no islands of happiness. He refused to be MLA from Kanjirappally a second time, even though he would have been a Minister this time. His argument was simple: “When half of India is starving and when half the children in India do not go to school, I have no business to be an MLA from the richest constituency”. He said he wants to work on three things: food on every table, every child to school and a job for everybody. He says he got into IAS because it was the most powerful service in the world. For him, power means the ability to create happiness for the persons who come in contact with him, not the ability to bully anyone into indignity. He got into politics because it gives him the power to bring a smile on human face. ”
- One of the toppers of the IAS, 1979 batch.
- Featured in TIME MAGAZINES’S list of 100 young global leaders in 1994 (cover story-5th Dec 1994).
- Pioneered the literacy movement in India, by making Kottayam Town the first 100% literate town in India in 1989, as District Collector.
- Kottayam District achieved a quality health index better than the United States of America when he was the District Collector.
- Built a cancer centre at Kottayam Medical College, with contribution from 8.2 million people.
- Demolished 14,310 illegal buildings in Delhi, and reclaimed land worth Rs. 10,000 crores, as Commissioner, Delhi Development Authority.
- Times Of India survey showed that 89.6% Delhiites supported his action, the highest rating for any public official any time.
- Is an inspirational orator; was the best inter university debater in India for three years, while in the University.
- Was instrumental in sanctioning self-financing professional colleges in Kerala, in 2001, when he was the Secretary, Higher Education, leading to an investment of Rs. 4,000 crores in this sector. The initiative has created over 1,00,000 seats in professional colleges. Declared the results of the entrance examinations to professional colleges in seven days, when he was the Commissioner for entrance examinations, Kerala.
- Authored the bestselling book titled “Making a Difference”, published by Penguin India, in 1996. The Malayalam translation, “India Mattathinte Muzhakam”, published by DC Books, is its 12th edition.
- Resigned from the IAS and got elected as independent MLA from Kanjirappally on 32nd day with a huge majority.Has won the best MLA award in Kerala in 2009.
- Set up JANSHAKTHI, an NGO, in 1994, to get the citizens to believe in their ability to make government accountable to people. It has over 265 branches in Kerala. Worked for a year in Janshakthi’s slum project in Delhi after finishing tenure as Commissioner, DDA.
- Won T.RAMARAO award from Kottayam Public Library in 2008, for making the most outstanding contribution to the development of Kottayam.
Travel-knots extends a hearty welcome to New Tourism Minister.