Days after a photo of an exhausted Italian nurse slumping over her keyboard became the symbolic image of coronavirus pandemic that has claimed 7988 lives worldwide as of March 18, a powerful story of an IAS officer going well beyond the call of duty has been doing the rounds of social media.
With the state governments temporarily shutting down schools, colleges, and places of large gatherings including cinema halls and swimming pools, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared COVID-19 a "disaster" for the state.
Patnaik also informed that the health and family welfare department and its directorates including the collectors and the municipal commissioners had been handed over a special task of making emergency procurement of drugs and the necessary equipment to curb the deadly disease - meaning they had no leaves or "work from home" flexibility as others.
Amidst this, Nikunja Dhal, Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department of Odisha, had to return to his duty 24 hours after the demise of his father, reported OMMCOMNEWS reported.
Dhal's incredible story of courage and putting work before grief was shared and lauded by the IAS Association on Twitter.
"Leading from the front. Nikunja Dhal IAS, Pr Secy Health, Govt of Odisha showed exemplary courage when he was back in his office combating the epidemic Coronavirus within 24 hours of his father’s death," the account wrote.
Leading from the front. Nikunja Dhal IAS, Pr Secy Health, Govt of Odisha showed exemplary courage when he was back in his office combating the epidemic Coronavirus within 24 hours of his father’s death. #Rolemodels #IndiaFightsCorona@PMOIndia @mygovindiahttps://t.co/BTPzseQA7o
— IAS Association (@IASassociation) March 17, 2020
MyGovIndia's official Twitter account called Dhal the unsung hero of the grim times.
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) March 17, 2020
The IAS officer received praises far and wide.
Duty before self.
One day after demise of his father Mr. Nikunj Dhal, Principal Secretary, Health, Odisha is back to work to lead his team againt #COVID19https://t.co/ZJF7mu6X8r #coronavirus@IASassociation @IPS_Association
— Arun Bothra (@arunbothra) March 17, 2020
— Anita Chauhan (@anita_chauhan80) March 17, 2020
Rarely we recognise leadership & courageous qualities in day to Govt work. Sri Nikunja Dhal @nbdhal, Secy @HFWOdisha has shown exemplary courage by joining back duty in 24 hrs of losing his father. Exceptional times need exceptional leaders. My personal gratitude#Covid19 pic.twitter.com/SEhsjHrXPf
— Manoj Mishra ମନୋଜ ମିଶ୍ର (@manojmishratwit) March 16, 2020
Responding to the tweets, Dhal responded by saying that he was humbled.
I am humbled.
Thank you Manoj.
— Nikunja Dhal (@nbdhal) March 16, 2020