A small hamlet, comprising about 45 families, in the village of Manthiyoor in the interiors of Tirunelveli district recently underwent a name change for a truly unique reason. The hamlet, which had been named Vakaikulam, is now called Vishnu Nagar.
What makes this normal-sounding name so different is that the Vishnu in Vishnu Nagar comes from the name of sub-collector Vishnu V Nair. Vishnu is credited by the villagers with bringing light to their dark hamlet, and to their gratitude, the villagers renamed their village after him.
The young IAS officer of the 2011 batch, however, reticently says he has not done anything great over and above his duty, to become a hero for these villagers.
Vishnu, a native of Kochi in Kerala who graduated from NIT Trichy, says he happened to encounter the myriad problems of this hamlet, during an inspection related to complaints over land disputes.
“45 families were living without electricity, water and proper road connectivity, 40 kilometres away from a town. Following some land dispute complaints, I visited this village and got to know about their plight,” he says.
Read Vishnu's interview to Chandrakanth Vishwanath of TNIE
Vishnu was posted as Sub-Collector of the Tirunelveli division in the district in November 2014, and his attempts to bring modern amenities to this village commenced in October 2015.
“In the beginning, when I inspected the village a couple of times, I realised that all the other neighbouring hamlets, except this one, had all facilities. They did not receive it due to some clashes with people of the other hamlets. They had been having continuous disputes over land,” he explains.
The officer continues “When I spoke to the District Collector, he assured me that there were no issues of funds. So the next step was compromise talks and continuous effort to sort out the issues,” he says.
Within three months, the Sub-collector was able to give the hamlet a whole new face, with electricity, piped water and proper roads.
But the officer repeats that his actions were nothing unique, and that many like him do much greater work daily.
“It was just my duty. We do this everyday, and many like me do bring much greater development. Since this incident had news value, it was reported. I did not even know that they had kept a board in my name. Later somebody told me that they had done this,” he asserts.
However, the villagers have insisted on erecting a board with the name ‘Vishnu Nagar’ at the entrance of the hamlet to remind visitors about the people’s gratitude to the administrator.
Manikandan, a young man from the village was the first to suggest this idea to rename the village.
“He gifted us all facilities that we were deprived of for the last 20 years. Nobody cared how we lived here all these years in darkness. We will always be grateful to him,” he says.
Manikandan says that all the villagers were happy to change the name of their village, as soon as he proposed the idea. “Everyone respects and loves him,” he adds.