Cover Story

Thinking out of the box

The fourth gfiles Governance Awards feted officers and administrators from across the country for their achievements in the field of governance. These were the people whose work touched the lives of millions and impacted them positively

by Narendra Kaushik

img-dec2015-5UNION Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu says governance is like ‘intel’ (informal for intelligence), not so visible yet most important for any government, department and organisation. Prabhu would know. He is in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who defines good governance as “putting people at the centre of development process” and never tires of stressing pro-people and pro-active governance. Besides, the minister has a mandate to make Indian Railways an engine of the Indian growth story through good governance.

The Union Minister for Mines and Steel, Narendra Singh Tomar, credits the coal auction, which helped the Modi government rustle up Rs. 4 lakh crore, for establishment of a transparent system. He also attributes the large number of disbursals under MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Bank) to good governance by bankers and bureaucrats.

Tomar feels there is a need to recognise and acknowledge excellence of administrators, a task gfiles has been doing for many years now. The monthly has been reporting the success stories of civil servants, scientists and engineers from across the length and breadth of the country.

On November 28, the publication once again awarded 11 bureaucrats in a glittering ceremony in Delhi attended by, besides Prabhu and Tomar, Haryana Finance Minister Capt Abhimanyu, High Commissioners of half a dozen countries, eminent politicians, civil servants and editors of newspapers.

Right from Jammu & Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, from nuclear science to radio regulatory service to renewable energy to policing to animal husbandry and to finance, the recipients of gfiles Governance Awards 2015—picked by an independent jury comprising former Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar, former Power Secretary Anil Razdan, former Chief Secretary of Haryana Vishnu Bhagwan and former Secretary (Internal Security) MB Kaushal—represented a wide spectrum of services the governance impacts on a daily basis.

img-dec2015-6On top of the excellence pyramid was Anil Kakodkar, India’s numero uno nuclear scientist whose contribution to the country’s nuclear energy programme is unparallelled. Dr Kakodkar, who currently chairs the National Institute of Science Education & Research (NISER), an organisation under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

S Vijayakumar, IAS (Secretary, Animal Husbandry Department, Tamil Nadu) received the Exceptional Contribution Award for facilitating employment of persons with disabilities under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS). Shalini Rajneesh, IAS (Principal Secretary, Backward Classes Welfare Department, Karnataka), got the Exceptional Contribution Award for women’s empowerment.

Jigmet Takpa, IFS (Director, Ladakh Renewable Energy Depart-ment Agency, Jammu & Kashmir), was bestowed with the Exceptional Contribution Award for biodiversity conservation. RS Nayak, Executive Engineer (Civil), Belgaum Corporation in Karnataka, collected the Exceptional Contribution Award for fighting water scarcity while Ajay Singhal, Engineer-in-Charge, International Satellite Monitoring Earth Station, Jalna (Maharashtra), bagged the Exceptional Contribution Award for ensuring violation-free usage of satellite spectrum.

img-dec2015-7PK Deshmukh, IAS (Secretary, Department of Water Conservation, Maharashtra), got the Excellent Contribution Award for using e-governance for crop pest surveillance. Rakesh Kumar Gupta, Principal Secretary, IAS (Department of Forests & Environment, Jammu & Kashmir), received the Excellent Contribution Award for IT-enabling the civil services examination in the Union Public Service Commission, while Amulya Patnaik, IPS (Special Commissioner of Police, Vigilance, Delhi Police), got the Excellent Contribution Award for initiating a support programme for victims of traumatic crimes. Meeran Chadha Borwankar, IPS (Director General, Legal & Technical, Maharashtra Police), and Anshul Mishra, an IAS officer in the Union Ministry of Finance, received Excellent Contribution Awards for tackling the underworld in Mumbai and cracking down on illegal mining, respectively.

RAZDAN, as member of the jury, said in his address that the objective of the awards was to acknowledge and encourage officers of varying seniority and recognise creation of new systems and ideas in diverse sectors and diverse regions. “The acid test is that your work should touch the lives of people,” he claimed, adding that the awardees were chosen without any recommendation from any quarter.

In his thanksgiving address, Dr Kakodkar said that nuclear energy could be the answer to the burgeoning demand and supply gap in the country, a fact touched upon by gfiles editor Anil Tyagi, who hosted the over three-hour-long programme. Dr Kakodkar was sure that layers and maze of rules inscribed in a statute can make it possible for administrators to do everything within the framework of law. Tomar said it was a privilege for him to know that Kakodkar was born in Barwani district in Madhya Pradesh, his home state.

HARYANA Finance Minister Capt Abhimanyu said that governance was an onerous task because it was all-pervasive and all encompassing. He lauded the gfiles Governance Awards for appreciating the work of administrators.

img-dec2015-8S Vijayakumar divulged how it was a mammoth task to open the MNREGS to disabled, blind and mentally disabled in 31 rural districts (12,564 panchayats) of Tamil Nadu. He said over Rs. 200 crore had been dispersed to them since 2011 through banks. The Karnataka-cadre IAS officer, Shalini Rajneesh, who was the youngest in her 1989 batch, launched SAKALA to guarantee in-time delivery of 478 government services to citizens in Belgaum, a district bordering Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Takpa, who has been posted in Ladakh for 19 years, thanked gfiles for projecting the work of government servants like him. His initiatives on biodiversity have led to rapid growth in population of snow leopards, the Asiatic ibex, wild yak and bar-headed geese in the region.

Nayak, an engineer, revived around 74 small and big open wells in Belgaum, a Tier II city, in 1995 to overcome water scarcity. The wells still meet most of the city’s demand for water. Ajay Singhal, an Indian Radio Regulatory Service (IRRS) officer, who stopped unauthorised and illegal usage of satellite spectrum, said the award boosted his confidence and morale of his team.

Deshmukh, a 1995-batch Maha-rashtra cadre IAS officer, who holds an MSc degree in Agronomy, said he worked on pest surveillance after he met a woman who had taken a loan of Rs. 25,000 from a moneylender. “I could not answer why I could not protect her crop,” he recollected. This guilt became a stepping stone for pest surveillance through e-governance.

Mishra, a 2004-batch Tamil Nadu-cadre IAS officer, was happy that he could save around Rs. 10,000 crore by cracking down on the granite mafia in Madurai (Tamil Nadu) during his tenure there as District Collector. Mishra ordered filing of 50 FIRs against illegal granite miners, who were entrenched in three villages of the district. Nearly 100 people were arrested.

Amulya Patnaik, a 1985-batch AGMUT-cadre IPS officer, set up Pratidhi (hope in Sanskrit), a collaborative programme in East Delhi in 1995, to provide holistic assistance—counselling, medical assistance, legal aid, subsistence allowance, vocational training—to victims of traumatic crimes.

img-dec2015-9Rakesh Kumar Gupta, 1986-batch IAS officer, felt the biggest challenge for an administrator was to encourage and assure his team that they would not be punished in case their experiment failed.

Borwankar, who did her post-graduation in English Literature from Jalandhar before being allotted the Maharashtra cadre in the IPS, credited her team and Maharashtra’s men and women for her campaign against underworld terror. She also credited her parents and sister Anita Kapur’s (Chairperson, CBDT) education and ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (save and educate girl child) slogan in the 1970s.

THIS was the fourth consecutive awards ceremony organised by gfiles, which began publishing in 2007. In 2014, the publication had honoured former Delhi Police Commissioner Ved Marwah with the Lifetime Achievement Award. A year before that, former Indian Engineering Service officer E Sreedharan, nicknamed ‘Metro Man’ for the successful completion and operation of the Delhi Metro, had received the honour.

The monthly was the brainchild of former India Today Executive Editor Inderjit Badhwar, senior journalist Anil Tyagi and well-known financial expert GS Sood. Over the years, the publication has not only added to its content but also exposed some of the worst financial and land scams and has become the most credible source of information on the Indian bureaucracy.

VOL. 9, ISSUE 9 | DEC, 2015


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