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An Officer And an Artist

While battling Covid-19 and in self-quarantine, IAS officer Sunil Kumar Verma renewed his passion for painting and even had the work exhibited in an art gallery. A classic out- of-box thinking and approach which must be motivating lots of people in Sonbhadra, the second largest district of Uttar Pradesh.

It’s very rare that we come across officers who are not only working for their own district but have also contributed their service in various distinctive fields. IAS officer of 2013 batch, Uttar Pradesh cadre, Mr. Sunil Kumar Verma is one of those rare gems.


He is not only a brilliant administrator but also an exceptional painter and goes to various lengths to develop and enhance the condition of his people, his district, and his administration. In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Verma opened about his work, achievements, and passions.

IAS Sunil Kumar Verma receiving The National Water Award

AN ARTIST FROM HEART

Since he was young, Mr. Verma had an inclination towards painting and also won various art competitions back in school. He was such a brilliant painter that even his teachers motivated him to graduate from a good art school.

A beautiful painting by Mr. Verma

“Initially I was interested in painting with water colors only, but couldn’t get enough time due to my preparation for UPSC. During my training period in LBSNAA, I got introduced to oil paintings and thus I retrieved my passion, moving from water colors, to oil paints, and to even pastel colors now” Mr. Verma told Indian Masterminds.

While Mr. Verma visited Kanpur as a nodal officer, he unfortunately contracted coronavirus, but instead of fretting over it, he spent his isolation period creatively. He painted beautiful paintings during the time. His paintings were highly appreciated by everyone and Varanasi based Creative Forum Organization even went on to exhibit his painting of the beautiful ghats of Varanasi, in their art gallery!

He utilized his quarantine period to make paintings

GETTING INTO CIVIL SERVICES

Mr. Verma was academically brilliant and had earlier thought of pursuing engineering. But in a year’s time he realized that his heart lay in serving the nation and its people. That’s when he decided to drop out from IIT and prepare for Civil Services.

He gave examination and received Delhi-Andaman Nicobar Islands Civil Services (DANICS) in his second attempt and the post of an IRS officer in his third attempt. He was finally able to achieve his dream of becoming an IAS officer in his fourth attempt!

Mr. Sunil Kumar Verma

DEVLEOPING SONBHADRA

Mr. Verma was appointed as the Chief Development Officer in Sonbhadra in 2018. He worked diligently to enhance and develop the lives of residents. To accomplish this, he launched several different initiatives:

  • Son Jalagraha: The initiative focused on digging out ponds and streams using NREGA funds. “Sonbhadra suffers famine like conditions in summer due to lack of natural ground water and the water level tends to go extremely low. This results in its inability to get recharged,” said Mr. Verma. To resolve the issue, Mr. Verma got dug 1000 ponds and streams to help the environment and his people. His initiative was recognized by the government of India and he was presented with National Water Award by the Ministry of Water Resources.
Ponds being dug under Mission Son Jalagraha
  • Son Swalamban: Under this initiative, Mr. Verma envisioned of making people self- dependent. He wished to connect self-help groups to employment. To do that, he established more than 1000 stitching centers and asked corporate societies to donate sewing machines to them. This generated employment for the locals who were given large contracts of sewing school uniform for students of government schools. “This earned them livelihood and also developed a skill for their future” says Mr. Verma. He even launched a mobile app to brand and market the products made by these people.
Mr. Verma providing ladies with sewing machines
  • Son antijan kayakalp mission: Sonbhadra is home to the tribe Musahar, whose poor people allegedly dig out rats from Earth and eat them, thus getting the name ‘Musahar’ meaning rat eater. To uplift them, Mr. Verma launched the initiative under which officers visited the district and through a survey, fed their entire information on a dashboard. This was later analyzed to enable them to take advantage from various government schemes. “We evaluated which family was making use of which government scheme, and under what schemes are they eligible, and we implemented these accordingly. We wanted them to fully benefit through these schemes” he told Indian Masterminds.
People from the tribe
  • Son school kayakalp: Under this initiative, several dilapidated schools in Sonbhadra were transformed and renovated. From constructing infrastructure to painting the walls and tiling the floors, everything came under this scheme.
School renovated under School Kayakalp Mission

No doubt, it’s mostly due to efforts and creative vision of Mr. Sunil Kumar Verma that Sonbhadra is seeing better days now.

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