By Denis Giles

The Islanders were on the verge of losing all hopes. A time, when the dark shadows loomed large and frustration seemed to be quite evident. Unemployment, lack of opportunity, poor medical facilities, not up-to date educational options, long term pending projects, not very wise decisions, corruption, favouritism etc. were all combinedly corroding the islands, and the Islanders.  And when everything seemed to be lost - with no one to guide and stand up for - the heavens finally ended up showing some mercy.

In this scenario, where Confusion prevailed and Self Interest dictated, a new Lt. Governor was appointed to take on the helm of the affairs. But by this time the ignored Islands were destitute and the Islanders were steeped in scepticism. It was not easy for the islanders racked with pain to overlook the past and easily forget what they had gone through. Doubts and negativity had filled them and they had lost the ability to Believe, be Positive and Foresee Happy times ahead.

Herein, stepped the Eleventh Lieutenant Governor of ANI. On 8 July 2013, Lt. Gen. (Retd) A.K. Singh, the newly appointed Lt. Governor took an oath to justify his appointment. Having had successfully led an Army, with an unending list of remarkable achievements, this must have seemed to be a child’s play for him. But he could not have perceived what all lurked behind the apparently beautiful and peaceful scenes visible to the naked eye.

His achievements could not serve as a qualification to console the dejected islanders infused with negativity over the years. Moreover, dealing with the civil society, without ruffling the feathers of all concerned, and getting the desired result proved to be totally a different field for the General to get accustomed to.

 “I don’t have a magic wand to solve issues overnight but

I can assure my commitment for my job……….”

The above sentiments were expressed by the new Lt. Governor in his opening remarks through the media. He explicitly stated that his

 “posting as the Lt. Governor is not a stepping stone but a milestone and a second chance to serve the people.

The words were encouraging and no doubt had raised some expectations of the islanders. But this time, the dejected wanted to see words materializing. They had been hearing many such idioms, phrases and anecdotes and had forcibly clapped over it.  For them it was seeing for believing.

The passing year has proved, repeatedly that he stood by all his commitments and claims.

The General within no time of his new posting had travelled across the length & breadth of the islands. He lent his ears to the unheard, stood amidst them, understood them and ensured that their genuine grievances were taken care of.  Many spot decisions were taken, which in fact never required tedious official procedures that used to be followed. These small little decisions and actions on the ground by the Lt. Governor, managed to rekindle the lost faith of the islanders, to a large extent.

It was not only this; Lt. Governor AK Singh within a short time was able to judge the real challenges being faced by the islanders. He knew that the task was not easy but with his ‘never give up’ attitude, the General was determined to hit the nail. He had a clear vision of a sustainable development and inclusive growth, while being sensitive to the fragile ecosystem and the particularly vulnerable tribes.

As announced in his opening remarks when he took over as theLt. Governor, AK Singh persistently took up the issues with the concerned Ministries at New Delhi. Many projects that remained shelved due to lack of initiative has started gaining momentum. As a follow up, the General adopted a policy to conduct regular review of the functioning of various departments, which is the very basis of chasing any target.

Believing in inclusive growth, the Lt. Governor AK Singh remained connected to the islanders through public hearings and also opened up a new platform using social media to invite suggestions from the Islanders in particular. It is for the first time that the Lt. Governor of A&N Islands could be connected through social media and by doing this, unexpectedly he ended up at the receiving end of the frustration of the people and needless to mention, criticism by media. To add to it, the unfortunate tourist boat tragedy and expose on exploitation of the tribes seemed to shatter it all.

Though demoralizing for any newcomer who meant business in true sense; the spirit of moving ahead and facing challenges ultimately elevated his position in the eyes of the islanders. The unfortunate incidents ultimately helped put things back in track. Safety Audit of all boats was ordered, causing inconvenience to many but then, it proved worth in many ways. Organising an international seminar to deliberate on the situation of the aboriginal tribes too is a welcoming step.  

Lt. Gen. (Retd) A.K. Singh has identified the key areas to focus on which includes employment opportunities, connectivity, tourism, fisheries, IT services, health, education, sports, telecommunication, security and not the least a fool proof Disaster Management for the islands prone to natural disasters. His personal initiative to reorganise the existing Disaster Management and conduct of the first ever State Level Mock Disaster Exercise proved its worth during the devastating Cyclone ‘Lehar’. It was due to this initiative that the islands could prevail over the cyclone with minimum damages.

It’s been just a year after Lt. Gen. (Retd) A.K. Singh took over as the Lt. Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. While many developmental projects are in the pipeline; it would be worth mentioning that the once seemed distant dream of having Islands’ own Medical College would soon be a reality. 

The entire happening of the last one year can be summed up beautifully in the words of W.B.Yeats –

 “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,”

And the outcome as -

“Surely some revelation is at hand;


Surely the Second Coming is at hand.”