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Jaju, an epitome of good things

Meenakshi AnantramMEENAKSHI ANANTRAM


The Municipal Commissioner, Sanjay Jaju, who recently attended the Johannesburg Earth Summit as a special invitee of the UN Environment Programme, is seen addressing a session on the `Role of local action in sustaining development'.

His name spells meaningful civic expression and everything he does makes us sit up and notice it. He is the master blaster of the Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation and his leadership skills and focus make the city a better place to live in.

Meet Sanjay Jaju, Municipal Commissioner. For some he appears as an enigma unfolding different facets of his personality in a myriad ways at different time zones. To others he is a magician who extracts astounding performances from his colleagues and workers. But to the discerning citizens, Jaju is an epitome of good things who has lent a significant twist to the drawing room conversation of the city.

Jaju's childhood saw him as just another lad dabbling in fun and mischief, and he was quite contented in being in the middle of the batting order of merit in the class. Being an average student did not matter much when pitted against all the fun he was having everywhere else. His brilliant sisters were always way ahead. But his ` watershed' as he calls it was when he was in Std. VII. The date was March 23, when young Jaju stood soaked in apprehension holding on to his mother's hand to pick up his marks for the final examinations. As the teacher called out the top ten rankers, his heart beat got louder and a strange sinking feeling overcame him since he was not in the fray. It was the teacher's countdown from the tenth rank to the second one. There was a pause and, lo and behold, she proclaimed the first ranker as `Sanjay Jaju'! Surely, at that very moment the winner in him was born and he has never looked back after that .

Jaju has a very illustrious academic background. He was the winner of top honours and coveted prizes during school and a national scholar at the plus two level. He stood all-India 520 and got a seat in the IIT-Mumbai but he chose to drop out after a while to get enrolled in the REC-Bhopal for a degree in mechanical engineering. An avid debater and quizzer, Jaju was also a superb sportsman and a part of every team on and off the field. His desire to `push the limits' and `challenge the boundaries' made him thirsty to excel in diverse fields. It was this stroke of genius that made him appear for the ICWA examinations while still in engineering college, and while most others would choose to write this difficult examination in phases, he took on all eight papers at one go. What followed was the making of history as 19-year old Jaju qualified in all papers and became the youngest cost accountant of the country.

Much has been said and written about the dynamic Municipal Commissioner but there is no clear line that segregates the officer from the gentleman. A proud member of the 1992 batch of IAS (Andhra cadre) this born leader has an outstanding career graph that has shaped his destiny. His arrival at Vizag coincided with the beginning of the golden era of the city's beautification. Be it a support role to the novel Saukaryam programme or the frontline of the road beautification project , Jaju's urban focus makes him the formula for success. Apart from the regular nine sets of activities called for by his chair, he finds time to give vent to his personal feelings and does not hesitate to touch the common man's life with his caring. He brought about a sea-change in the working of his office.

Jaju does not want to remain a mere file-pusher. His ardent wish is to be a knowledge worker at all times. He is fully aware of his inner strengths and has the penchant to strive for the impossible. "Please extract the maximum from me" is his message to the city. His greatest role models are Sam Pitroda, Infosys Narayan Murthy and his parents - especially his mother - who moulded his life and thoughts. But to him, the best inspiration is from Chandra Babu Naidu. "He is not just a State leader but a visionary whose clarity of thought, knowledge on urban life and mastery of information technology always leave me gaping in awe."

For Jaju, the day begins with a brisk walk and a refreshing game of squash. His wife is a medical practitioner, independent and forthright, just as he had dreamt. He is a staunch supporter of the women's liberation movement and extols the free woman. " I always wanted a wife who would be a person by herself and not piggyback on me", reflects Jaju with a proud beam in his eye. He is a good father and spends quality time with his two children.

What is really mind blowing is that amidst all his strenuous planning, works and assignments he still finds time to sharpen the cultural genius in him. Recently he has become a big hit in music circles with his mellifluous singing, and the ghazal show at Kalabharati a few months ago saw him perform excellently two songs penned by his father. Be it a classical or modern dance show, inter - school quiz, college debate, corporate sports meet or a simple cine review, the Municipal Commissioner is there savouring every minute of such gatherings.

As the interview with this unique personality comes to an end, his message to the city runs thus: "Go back to your history books and check out how well planned we were with our civic amenities so many centuries ago. This will make us feel ashamed for the way we are treating our city and its roads. Every citizen must cultivate a sense of pride and belonging. People make a city what it is and Vizagites have always been leaders. So, let us march on to build a better world together."

Sanjay Jaju's name is sure to be etched in the glorious history of this city amongst those who made the difference for us.

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