HYDERABAD: A Regional Passport Officer (RPO) by profession and a cartoonist by passion, Dasari Balaiah is on a mission to spread awareness on Covid-19. Inspired by the Jan Andolan for Covid-19 Appropriate Behaviour Pledge launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Balaiah has designed a scroll to educate citizens on the need to remain vigilant about coronavirus. The scroll was designed when he was working as the Joint Commissioner of GST in Odisha.
Ever since he assumed charge as the Hyderabad RPO, Balaiah has been carrying the scroll to Indira Park on Sundays and to his office at Secunderabad on weekdays, where he asks visitors to continue taking precautions against Covid-19. He then makes them take a pledge and sign the scroll. “People think that the virus has become less effective. It has not gone anywhere and is still strong. I am trying to make them understand this and recommit themselves to safety protocols,” he told The New Indian Express.
It may be mentioned that Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundarajan had appreciated his efforts. A 2008-batch IRS officer, Balaiah says his interest in cartoons was sparked in the 1980s, during his school days. At the time, Godavari had flooded many parts of Andhra Pradesh, causing massive destruction. Moved by the flood fury, he drew a cartoon, which was published in his school magazine.
He lost touch with the art after he got into the IRS in 2008. Fast forward to 2017, when the GST was introduced in the country, Balaiah, with an aim to clear the misconceptions surrounding the tax, began working on cartoons again. Under the banner ‘GST Musings’, he organised several public exhibitions to create awareness about the tax. He also created a series of artworks commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary in 2019. At the time, his works were based on the idea of ‘swachhata’.
When the pandemic brought the country to a standstill, Balaiah drew several cartoons on Covid-19, and penned a song, which went viral on social media platforms. Though his role as the RPO keeps him busy, he always makes sure he spends some time cartooning. “I usually make use of my free time to create art. Following safety precautions is every person’s responsibility, and I am doing my bit through my artwork,” he said.