Dr Hrusikesh Panda, who people in Odisha know more as a fiction writer with seven novels, eight collections of short stories and four plays to his credit. When the DoPT released the names of secretary empaneled officers of 1979 batch a couple of months ago, a few names including that of Panda were prominently missing. But it released the list-2 of secretary empanelment in mid-December where names of high profile IAS like Rajiv Takru, Ravi Mathur and EK Bharat Bhusan did figure. BoI could not verify why Panda, an additional secretary in Panchayati Raj department, was left out. According to reports, he is now heading towards his home turf Odisha where he is likely to be ranked chief secretary equivalent.
In fact, Panda had some of the major showdowns with politicians in Odisha including chief minister Navin Patnaik. There were court cases against him, and he was transferred several times, and was suspended too. The classic case was his refusal to toe the line of Patnaik while raising retail prices of milk in 2008 when he headed the state milk cooperative, OMFED. In 2003, there was a serious allegations against Panda when then Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Welfare minister Balabhadra Majhi and legislator Saharai Oram complained that they were misbehaved by the IAS officer in a state guest house at Keonjhar district.
But people in Odisha have always admired Panda as a litterateur. The man who boldly handles social themes and passionately depicts humanism is showered with a number of awards including prestigious Sarala Samman in 2012.
An MSc in chemistry before getting into IAS, Panda later did his MBA from Australia. He is also a doctorate in English with a thesis on relationship between society and literature: a study in creative writing.