A smiling panchayat clerk who welcomes visitors and even wants their rating at the end of a visit to the local body would seem cinematic, but not in Kerala’s largest grama panchayat in Malappuram district.
Abdul Saleem Palliyalthody is the face visitors look for at the Angadipuram panchayat office when they go for service. At 42, he has been employed at the local body for three years now.
Mr. Saleem makes no secret of his public service enthusiasm. On his table is a prominent notice that declares his opposition to bribery.
The notice in Malayalam reads: “The government pays me Rs. 811 a day (Rs. 24,340 a month) to serve you. If you are not happy with my service, please tell me about it.” He has updated his pay whenever it changed since he put up the notice in 2014.
The ‘anti-corruption’ notice went viral when a curious visitor posted it on social media recently.
“Service is the essence of any government job. People coming to us for different things should not return empty-handed. They should return satisfied,” says Mr. Saleem, whose panchayat has a staff strength of 17.
No one entering the office can miss the central figure. He offers to help even if it is not part of his job, which involves issue of various certificates and documents on buildings. “His approach makes people aware of their rights,” says his superintendent, I.P. Peethambaran.
Polio does not deter
Mr. Saleem says panchayat secretary, K. Sidheek, who is himself a State best secretary awardee for 2011-12, let him be outspoken. Mr. Sidheek says his junior colleague has had a positive impact on the entire staff.
Panchayat president O. Kesavan welcomes the ‘motivating’ effect. Unlike other local body staff, Mr. Saleem is from the same village and worked elsewhere, including in West Asia, before returning to home base.
He does not let his 40% polio disability affect field visits done on his scooter. The Vigilance Department had recently said local bodies and revenue offices were among the most corrupt government offices.