Everybody has dreams when young and innocent, some of which fade away and a few settle down along with our lives in the course of time. This might be true for most of us but not for all. Named after Neil Armstrong, the Deputy Commissioner of Tamenglong district in Manipur, Armstrong Pame has come up with an interesting and innovative way to fulfill his childhood dreams and also serve the people of his district.
Pame is the first from his tribe, Zeme of Nagaland, to become an officer in the Indian Administrative Service. Recently he has issued a circular inviting the students ranging from class Vth to Xth over a weekly dinner with him. The children shall be selected school –wise on a rotation basis and shall be given an opportunity to observe the working of the district administration during post lunch office hours.
‘As a kid I used to walk past the DC bungalow and the office … really wanted to see what’s there but never got to .. now being here as DC let me invite the school kids to share a dinner table with me ..hope this will give them a zeal to do well to live their dreams..’ he writes on his Facebook post sharing a photo of the issued notice.
Armstrong Pame is a living example that if you are really passionate, you can even break mountains. Well, in his case, build roads through the mountains. He was invited to Facebook headquarters in California for building a 100 km long ‘Peoples’ Road’ connecting Manipur to Nagaland and Assam without any government help.
A 2009 IAS batch officer, Pame has travelled 31 villages of Manipur on foot to experience the lives of the people in the state. After becoming the SDM (Sub-Divisional Magistrate) of Tousem , one of the most backward areas of the country back in the day, he witnessed how the people in his district faced hardships to reach Tamenglong which is just 50 kms away. It took them two days to reach the nearest hospital and because ambulance was a far off dream, hundreds of patients had to be carried on makeshift bamboo stretchers on foot.
Pame pooled in Rs 4 lakhs initially with help of his friends and family and started the project all by himself. Later he took to Facebook and crowd funded Rs 40 lakhs including donations. The state government had refused to help citing lack of funds but the residents came forward and volunteered. Local contractors helped with earthmovers and road rollers for free. In a year’s time, the road was ready which ran through the hilly North Eastern terrains. He soon started getting called the ‘Miracle Man’ by the local villagers.
A St. Stephen’s College graduate, Pame has been awarded India’s Most Eminent IAS Officer Award in 2015.
By Pritesh Gupta