The Person

Alphons Kannanthanam was born on 8/8/1953 in a non electrified village, Manimala, in Kottayam District, Kerala, India. His father was a world war II veteran, who became a school teacher after the war. His parents had nine children; they adopted two more from the orphanage, making it 11 !

He had his school education in the near by Malayalam medium village schools. While the High school head master had warned his parents that he would not make it through the Board examinations in the 10th class, the first miracle of his life happened, and he passed with an incredible 42% marks!

When the celebrations were over, he sat by the Manimala river and asked himself the question for the first time: “ Why am I born?”. The answer came after a couple of hours: “I am born to change the world with my life”. Ever since, it has been his motto to change the world, wherever he was.

He did not let destiny deicide things for him any more. He decided that he was intelligent. He decided that he was talented. He taught himself English the hard way. He began to top in every class he went to. He began to get a prize in almost every event in the University. He became the best inter University debater in India.

He asked himself , while in college: “ Which profession will give me the biggest scope to make a difference in the world?”. He zeroed in on the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). He was one of the toppers of the IAS examinations in the year 1979. Even though he was an economist by training, he opted for history, sociology and philosophy and came out with flying colours. Once in the IAS, he decided that he was going to be a civil servant with a back bone. For 27 years, he lived with his back bone intact. Every job he held, he has made a remarkable difference.

With eight years to go in the IAS, he quit the IAS in 2006, and was elected a Member of the Legislative Assembly, from Kanjirappally in Kottayam District, Kerala, 32 days later, with a huge majority. He has been a voice for progressive change in the Assembly. He is also a practicing advocate in the High court and the Supreme Court of India.

Important Posts Held

1979
1983
1988
2000
2006
2003

1979 - 1981

IAS Academy- Training.

1981 - 1983

Sub collector, Devicolam.

2010

1983 - 1985

Deputy secretary, Education, Kerala.

1985 - 1988

Managing Director, Kerala Milk Federation.

2011
2012
2013

2006 - 2011

Kanjirappally MLA

2011

Resigns as MLA and Joins BJP as Member of National Executive Council.

Achievements

  • Was one of the toppers of the IAS, 1979 batch.
  • Was in TIME MAGAZINES’S list of 100 young global leaders in 1994 ( cover story-5th Dec, 1994).
  • Pioneered the literacy movement in India, by making Kottayam Town the first 100% literate town in India in 1989, as District Collector.
  • Kottayam District achieved a quality health index better than the United States of America, when he was the District Collector.
  • Built a cancer centre at Kottayam Medical College, with contribution from 8.2 million people.
  • Demolished 14,310 illegal buildings in Delhi , and reclaimed land worth Rs. 10,000 crores, as Commissioner, Delhi Development Authority.
  • Times Of India survey showed that 89.6% Delhiites supported his action, the highest rating for any public official any time.
  • Is an inspirational orator; was the best inter university debater in India for three years, while in the University.
  • Was instrumental in sanctioning self financing professional colleges in Kerala, in 2001, when he was the Secretary, Higher Education, leading to an investment of Rs. 4,000 crores in this sector. The initiative has created over 1,00,000 seats in professional colleges. Declared the results of the entrance examinations to professional colleges in seven days, when he was the Commissioner for entrance examinations, Kerala.
  • Authored the best selling book titled “Making A Difference”, published by Penguin India, in 1996. The Malayalam translation,“India Mattathinte Muzhakam” , published by DC Books, is it’s 12th edition.
  • Resigned from the IAS and got elected as independent MLA from Kanjirappally on 32nd day with a huge majority.Has won the best MLA award in Kerala in 2009.
  • Set up JANSHAKTHI, an NGO, in 1994, to get the citizens to believe in their ability to make government accountable to people. It has over 265 branches in Kerala. Worked for a year in Janshakthi’s slum project in Delhi after finishing tenure as Commissioner, DDA.
  • Won T.RAMARAO award from Kottayam Public Library in 2008, for making the most outstanding contribution to the development of Kottayam.