Sunday Celebrity: Dr. Irai Anbu IAS eyes on youngsters’ scaling high
Tourism is the largest service industry in India with more than 5 million annual foreign tourist arrivals and 562 million domestic tourism visits. While the Ministry of Tourism, the nodal agency for the development and promotion of tourism in India, calls its campaign the "Incredible India", Tamil Nadu which is the third most visited state in India by foreign tourists, with more than 2 million foreign tourists arrivals annually, calls it “Enchanting Tamilnadu”.
There is a vibrant Indian Administration Service officer Dr. V. Irai Anbu sitting as Secretary of the Tourism department who makes the state tourism industry throbbing.
Asian Tribune had a chat with the young dynamic IAS officer Irai Anbu last week. Most of the government officials confine themselves to their designed work; for some, extra curricular activity alone can level them with their endless energy. Dr. Irai Anbu is one such personality.
He is an able communicator in English and Tamil, writer and author; poet and educator; counselor and motivator—in short a multi-faceted personality. He is holder of more than half dozen degrees—B.Sc (Agri), M. A (Eng), M. A (Labor Management), M. Sc (Psychology), M.Sc (Sanskrit), M B A., Hindi (Praveen) and Ph. D (Bossiness Admin.). He is pursuing his second Ph.D in Comparative Literature (parallels in the works of Thiruvalluvar and Shakespeare).
He is author of 30 books, which include a short story collection, collection of creative parables, a long poetry, poetry collections and collection of articles for various journals and magazines. His first book “I A S Exams and Tips for Success” in Tamil in 1996 was a run-away success. His English work “Steps to Super Students” and “ IAS Vetri Padigal,” in Tamil were also well received. All the three books awakened student community to take to IAS exams in large numbers—such an inspiring effect it had on them.
What is his big achievement as a writer is, his 50 articles on life-related issues serialized in The Hindu under “Random Thoughts” is coming out as a book, brought out by none other than The Hindu publications itself. His thesis work “HR Management Concept” is being published by New Century Book House.
Irai Anbu’s Tamil novel “Aathankarai Oram” won best novel award from Tiruppur Tamil Sangam in 1999. Nearly 20 students have done research programmes on Irai Anbu’s books for their M.Phil degrees and now three scholars are simultaneously doing Ph. D programmes on his works. He is always seen on various TV channels for talk shows and career guidance and motivation talks.
As Tourism Secretary he created a niche for himself. He was instrumental for the department winning eight National awards and one International award for Tourism.
Medical Tourism/ Health Tourism
While Chennai is medical destination and the most favoured city for medical treatment,
for the country and neighbouring countries, the Tamil Nadu tourism department is promoting Meditour India, a non gpvernmental enterprise with the support of the state government for promotion of medical tourism.
“What Kerala practices is ‘Health Tourism” or “Wellness Tourism” and what is happening here is “Medical Tourism”. Expert doctors, state-of-the-art facilities and low cost of treatment and cure success rate had brought in more than 5,000 medical tourists to Chennai last year,” he says.
"Chennai has the largest number of ‘medical tourists’ in the country. On an average, a dozen foreigners come here for medical treatment every day. The country now offers special visa to patients and their attendees if the primary reason of visit is medical. This has attracted many patients," he says.
Automatically they are our tourists, and thanks to tourism info desks at airport, hospitals and other important places, the idea of tourism kicks off with them. The department of tourism has realized that it is essential to provide facilities for them to visit places of tourists interest so that they can recuperate and get rejuvenated in a short period of time. Further, the tourism department in association with the hospitals has embarked on the mission of spreading the concept of “Medical Tourism”
Capacity building workshops are conduced to Chief Executive Officers and Front Office Managers of various hospitals to sensitise them towards the rapidly growing phenomenon of Medical Tourism. To make their services tourists-friendly, many hospitals have opened “travel desks” at their reception counters.
"Almost all hospitals have a special travel desks to help patients with their domestic tour plans. We are willing to provide all information to set up such facilities," he said.
Home stay for tourists
To enable the inhabitants of tourists’ destination to earn additional income through their sharable rooms in their homes, Bed & Breakfast facility has been introduced in Tamil Nadu. In the other words a “home-stay” for tourists, which concept is also catching up of late. Irai Anbu said workshop was conduced at six places in Tamil Nadu to publicize this scheme and also create awareness. The department has short-listed 77 such service providers from various districts of Tamil Nadu for the benefit of tourists and the same info has been posted on the website.
Tamil Nadu is well known for the rich cultural heritage both within and outside the country. Music, dance and drama form an integral part of the lives of the people, who are fond of organizing and participating in a variety of cultural fairs and festivals throughout the year. The cultural events attract domestic and foreign tourists. The tourism department is making use of this attraction to promote tourism.
Some of the festivals the department celebrates with the help of state government are Pongal Tourist festival, Chithrai visu festival, Tea and Tourism festival at Ooty, Chitrai dance festival at Madurai, Bull fighting, Chithrai full moon festival, Poombuhar, Kattabomman vizha, Panchalankurichi, Mango festival, Krishnagiri, Saral Thiruvizha, Courtallam, Aadi perukku, Hogenakkal, Velankanni festival, Thiruvannamalai Deepam festival, etc Chennai Sangamam for promoting folk arts has become instant success with the tourists.
As an achievement he talks of the introduction of Eco Tourism and Adventure Tourism recently in the State. Some of the tourists evince keen interest in tourism with nature. There is abundant natural wealth in Tamil Nadu—hill stations, forests, mountains waterfalls, beaches, lakes and wildlife sanctuaries. So Tamil Nadu tourism launched it, he says.
“A walk through forests is not eco tourism unless that particular walk somehow benefits that environment, the walker himself learning the importance of ecology and the people who live there. The international eco tourism society defines eco tourism as “responsive travel to natural areas that conserves environment and improves well-being of the people,” he says.
He says “the recent eco tourism policy released by the government stresses the need to integrate Tourism and Forest departments and it would go a long way so that a systematic effort is made to improve the understanding of the tourists in conservation concomitant with enjoyment.”
Adventure travel appears to have developed out of the broader, wider growth of traditional outdoor and wilderness recreation. Unlike other forms of recreation, adventure travel offers a unique opportunity in which participants became more experienced and pursue extended scales of “adventurous endeavors,” Irai Anbu says. So naturally t became an in-thing.
Adventure tourism involves trekking, water sports, para gliding, speed boats, water scooter, rock climbing and other related activities. Youth tourism has emerged and their needs have shifted to adventure oriented, he says.
“Virunthinar Potruthum- Virunthinar Potruthum”
The visiting tourist’s heart has to be won. Hence Tamilnadu Tourism has taken up a guest-care mission for imbibing “Virunthinar Potruthum- Virunthinar Potruthum” (guest be honoured- guest be honoured) (Tourist-friendly culture) in the minds of notdonly stake-holders in tourism but also everyone in the state, Irai Anbu says.
So auto drivers, porters at Central Railway station had been given necessary orientation, and on completion of the training they were designated as “tourism-friendly auto drivers and porters” Not only in the city, all over the state the programme was implemented, Irai Anbu said.
The 46-year old senior IAS officer has put in so far 22 years of service in the Indian Administrative services, has handled many important portfolios.
Irai Anbu completed his B.Sc (agriculture) in 1984 and joined as Agricultural Officer. His first IAS attempt landed him in IRS, and he became Income tax Assistant Commissioner (trainee). He made his second attempt IAS in 1985 and got 15th rank in the all India Civil Services examination and first place in Tamil Nadu, and became Assistant Collector in 1989.
When he found the secret of success to IAS, he decided to pass on benefits to others aspiring. He declared it was no up hill task; “work hard with confidence, you can phoo-phoo,” he encouraged the young aspirants. So, he started motivating, counseling and conducting mock interviews to help students excel in the IAS exams. Many are thankful to him for the guidance. His books and confidence building talks, made many to scale the the Himalayan target.
- Asian Tribune -