Chennai/Bengaluru, April 22: Ministry of Defence (MoD) lost one of the most vibrant Public Relation Officers (PRO) following the demise of Natesan Andavan, who handled the operations in Chennai.
Andavan was admitted to the intensive care unit of Sundaram Medical Foundation in Chennai after he was first hit by an auto rickshaw and later run over by a two-wheeler on Monday evening.
The incident happened while he was crossing the Poonamallee High Road in Purasawalkam after a routine medical check-up on Monday. He was on a life support system for the last two days.
Natesan (52) is survived by his wife Joy Andavan, News Editor with All India Radio, son Benjoy (MBA student) and daughter Catherine (engineering student). The funeral is scheduled on Tuesday morning at his native Perumuchi village, near Arakkonam, in Tamil Nadu.
Caught the attention of the media at very short time
Andavan joined MoD's Department of Public Relations (DPR) in 2009 and won the hearts of the media within no time.
"I knew him very closely for the last five years. He always helped us to get insight into many defence stories. He also went the extra mile to educate the media on defence matters. He was always available to us and never gave any excuses," says Dennis S Jesudasan, Special Correspondent, The Hindu, Chennai.
"At the end of the day, Andavan knew the deadline pressures of the media," says Dennis, who has Space and Defence beats under his belt.
Echoing the same sentiments of Dennis was S Anandan, Special Correspondent (Defence) with The Hindu, Kochi.
"He was very fine human being and very helpful. He was with me during the naval Exercise MILAN in the Andamans a couple of years back. He was the polite face of MoD's PR set up, yet effective. He exactly knew the needs of the media and had a very gentle way of executing his work," says Anandan.
According to S Anil, Chief of Bureau, The New Indian Express, Thiruvananthapuram, Andavan was a matured soul.
"His interest in Journalism was immense and he did a Defence Correspondents' Course (DCC) with us in 2009. I saw a very simple soul in him and he was very enthusiastic in learning new areas of interest. His sudden demise is a huge loss to the media fraternity," says Anil.
He made an impact, says Manohar Parrikar
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was among the early birds to mourn the death of Andavan on Monday.
Expressing shock and grief at the untimely demise Andavan, Parrikar said Andavan was a professional communicator who excelled in every aspect of journalism and public relations. [Manohar Parrikar condoles defence PRO's death in Chennai]
"He made a definite impact among the media fraternity. My heart goes out to the bereaved family at this critical moment in their lives," Parikkar said.
MoD Spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said Andavan was a amiable personality with an abiding interest in defence related issues.
"He was a great colleague who was very quiet and profound as well. He was extremely meticulous in his job. He turned around the Chennai zone into one of the most active PR hubs for MoD. We had some concerns with the Chennai office before he took over in 2009. But Andvan restored the image of DPR within short time," Kar told OneIndia over the phone from Delhi.
According to Group Capt T K Singha, Chief PRO (Defence), Kolkata, Andavan was a very endearing person, unassuming but very keen to learn defence matters.
"He was a great team mate. Even journalists from Kolkata who met him at Port Blair for Exercise MILAN are shocked to hear of his sad passing away. MoD will surely miss his services," says Singha, former Spokesperson of Indian Air Force and a prolific writer.
"In Andvan's demise, the Armed Forces lost a very passionate soul," adds Singha.
MoD sharpshooter ‘Skyman Satish' is orphaned now
Basani Satish Kumar a.k.a Skyman, a senior photo officer with MoD, said that he is orphaned with the demise of Andavan.
Satish, one of the most-sought-after photographers of MoD, had been working with Andavan for the last five years.
"He always did his homework before dealing with the media. He always wanted to be abreast of the happenings in Indian armed forces. He was a great football fan as well and life will be different for all us from now on," says Satish.
The Regional PRO Office of MOD in Chennai is situated inside the Secretariat Complex.
Madhu Nair, an active official with the Regional PRO Office in Bengaluru said that Andavan always took the media into confidence while handling sensitive issues. "It was a great learning curve for all of us whenever we had opportunity to work with him," says Madhu.
FDAJB mourns the demise of a helping soul
The Forum of Defence and Aerospace Journalists, Bengaluru (FDAJB), an active network of media personnel, condoled the sudden demise of Andavan.
"It will be difficult for MoD to replace Andavan. His passion levels, keenness to help journalists and down-to-earth nature made him different from other PROs. His short tenure in Bengaluru (holding additional charge) gave an opportunity to the forum members to see his working style from close quarters. He will be missed," FDAJB said in a statement.
Andavan played a key role during the visit of some of FDAJB members to the Tri-Service Command in Andamans in 2010.
"He was a very upright officer and very accommodating person. He was not the typical uptight defence PRO. His interactions were always with the aim of keeping the relationship alive rather than for the sake of a story," says Chethan Kumar, Principal Correspondent, The Times of India, Bengaluru.
You will be missed Natesan Andavan!
Your work will definitely inspire many Defence PROs of tomorrow.