New Delhi: Shri Alphons Kannanthanam assumes charge the office of Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism here today. He is a retired IAS officer of 1979 batch (Kerala cadre). He was in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Young Global Leaders. He pioneered the literacy movement in India by making Kottayam the first 100% literate town in India in 1989.
He worked in the Indian Administration Service until 2006, when he was elected a Member of the Legislative Assembly, from Kanjirappally in Kottayam District of Kerala. He came into prominence when he served as the District Collector of Kottayam in 1988. He drove the literacy movement in the State and helped to make Kottayam town as the first 100% literate town in India in 1989.
Shri Alphon’s life is nothing short of a miracle. Having passed his high school with 42% from a non electrified village Malayalam medium school, he became one of the toppers of the 1979 batch of the IAS. For 27 years he was the voice of the helpless citizens running pitched battles against the corrupt system. He was rated to be one of the most competent officers in the history of the civil service. He is an inspirational orator and has spoken to over three million people, mostly students, in the past 35 years. In 2006, he quit IAS, contested as an independent from Kanjirappally constituency and got elected as an MLA with huge majority, spending less than Rs. 10 lakh. He decided that he wanted to be different kind of an MLA. He drove his own car and lived in a tiny room in the rest house and got allocated Rs. 350 crores for the constituency and won the best MLA award.