Transforming Odisha: A Tale of Dedication and Right Direction

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Bhubaneswar: The famous phrase of Abraham Lincoln “Government is Of the People, By the People, For the People”, holds true in a democratic country like India even today. It is the people who are masters and they are the centre of all the governance initiatives. A government wins trust of the people by doing good work and sustained good work leads to absolute trust of the people. All organs of the government exist to fulfill aspirations of the people with the objective of creating maximum good for the maximum people and leading the organs is the greatest challenge today.

When there is a clear cut aspiration and strong inspiration from leadership, no challenge is difficult to realize. Steadily, Odisha is transforming itself into a strong and resilient state with the right hand undertaking the responsibility under an able leadership.

In Odisha, the people have reposed their faith on the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led government for nearly two decades because of its clean, transparent and citizen-centric governance model, the model which has set a new benchmark both in politics and general administration.

Naveen Patnaik, who had emphasized on 3Ts – Teamwork, Transparency and Technology – during his fourth term, has now added new dimensions – Time and Transformation to make it the 5-T mantra to accelerate the growth process and revitalize the administrative competence.

This process of transformation is taking place with the “Steel Frame” leading from the front. The Steel Frame, as described by Sardar Patel to the Indian Administrative Service, is steering the rest of the administration and bureaucracy towards bringing in a holistic development.

In recent few days there were some occasions when we saw the administrators taking proactive steps and reaching out to the people to have an on-the-spot assessment of the development process.

Be it Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange working with farmers in a paddy field or the Kendrapada Collector Samarth Verma, turning a teacher at a government school are the examples of transformation taking place. Similarly, Gajapati Collector Anupam Saha tried a unique initiate when he organized door-to-door campaign to raise funds for Fani victims. Recently, Sambalpur Collector Subham Saxena was highly appreciated for his efforts to reach out to the remotest villages of the district to have a hands-on experience of the working of the school and the midday meal scheme. Puri Collector Balwant Singh was also in news for taking lead in ‘Mo Beach Cleanup Campaign’ for ensuring clean beaches. The list also includes the Collector of Koraput who has been making visits to the remotest areas of the district and reviewing the welfare activities. These are a few remarkable examples of proactive initiation of the administrators that new Odisha is witnessing under the Naveen era.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s 5-T Mantra is being implemented energetically and is being given priority. For this the Chief Minister has also assigned a special officer to assist him. And he is none other than the young, energetic and dynamic IAS officer V Karthikeya Pandian, who had left a mark in the hearts of people wherever he has worked. He has been designated as Secretary to the CM’s Transformation and Initiatives (5Ts).

With this Naveen has reiterated that good governance and public service are the top priorities of his government. The man in news today has been popular for his soft persona and believes in a tough and no nonsense approach. The 2000 Batch IAS has been very successfully leading the development process of the state.

As a young Sub-Collector in Dharamgarh, Kalahandi, his tough stance with millers ensured full payment of MSP to the farmers and profits to cooperative societies. This also helped the government to get highest ever revenue collections. This initiative got him the appreciation and felicitation from the Chief Minister.

As ADM in Rourkela, he had a blazing tenure of 7 months. He was instrumental in the Chend market eviction leading to people getting back their hard earned money after 15 years.

Pandian was one of the youngest Collectors of the country when he took charge of Odisha’s largest district – Mayurbhanj. His daily visits to the remote villages of the district helped accelerating the development process. Mayurbhanj received the National Award for the Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities. He set in place a system whereby PWDs could be identified and rehabilitated at the village and block levels. This was later adopted as State policy. V K Pandian was a recipient of the Hellen Keller Award for his work for the PWDs- a rare distinction for a bureaucrat.

Pandian’s innovative and Out of Box interventions continued when he became the Collector of Ganjam. The district got the National Award for being the best district in NREGs implementation. He was instrumental in bring in groundbreaking innovations by undertaking payment of wages through bank accounts – well before it was adopted by the State or at the national level. A record Rs 100 crores was transferred in this manner into the bank accounts of thousands of labourers. His successful approach resulted in Ganjam getting the Presidents’ Award twice for leading changes. The people friendly approach helped maximize the mandays under NREGA and minimize the incidents of labourer migration to other states. The innovations implemented in Ganjam such as transfer of wages to bank accounts, putting up of Citizen Information Boards were later adopted nationally. These steps showed a deep sensitivity and understanding of people and an intent to root out corruption in government functioning.

The Chief Minister’s choice in assigning Pandian to assist him in the implementation of Five-T is a welcome step as he has been a pioneer in this direction. He is a team player and motivates his subordinates to perform to the fullest level. Those who have worked with him swear by his fierce loyalty and unimaginable support.
The efforts have already started bearing fruits as and the responsible authorities along with the ministers of the state are now in an accelerated mission mode.

The day his orders came out as Secretary 5Ts, the Secretariat was renamed Lok Sewa Bhawan.

Odisha is definitely going to see a visible change in all parameters of development in the coming days.

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