So Pandey blocked out the negativity, and worked to bring a positive outlook to his office and to Ghaziabad. He based his approach on three tenets: Honesty, transparency and teamwork. He expects each city official to embrace these values with the same passion he does.
"He's the best employer I've ever had. It is a dream to work for him. At the core, he operates in a very simple way. He's completely honest; he never says one thing in a meeting only to tell me something different behind closed doors. It's a refreshing experience," says Arun Kumar Mishra, an accountant working for the municipal corporation.
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Pandey had planted the seeds of change, and slowly, they took root and blossomed.
"Recently, in the last few months, the people have truly embraced my idea. Construction is completed in a satisfactory, timely manner. Companies which had once denounced Ghaziabad altogether for its corruption have moved back and started operating again. Citizens are sacrificing ten minutes each day. And Ghaziabad has never looked better."
When asked to project his programme from a macro, country-wide perspective, Pandey hesitates. "I can't assure you it will make it all the way to the top. But it's a self-motivating philosophy, and if enough people take it up in earnest, the potential impact is immeasurable."
After the interview, Pandey hands me a ceremonial gift, the same he gives to each visitor to his office: A brand-new jhadu.
"It's a physical manifestation of the philosophy," he says. "We should always envision a brighter future. Right now, India stands at a crossroads. My goal is to give her a push down the Gandhian path."
Also read: 'It is a mafia operation where people are afraid to speak out'
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