Young UP bureaucrats scripting change, garnering goodwill

By Mohit Dubey

Lucknow : A young ‘collector saheb’ sipping piping hot coffee and munching ‘laiyya-chana’ at a chaupal with wide-eyed villagers, a young woman IAS official cradling infants at an Aanganwadi centre, a district magistrate riding pillion on a motorbike to check open defecation at a Varanasi village.

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Dispelling the myth that bureaucrats are only meant for office comforts, a band of young officials in Uttar Pradesh is scripting a new chapter wherein not only are the people being benefited but the state’s tainted bureaucracy is also getting a long due makeover.

Perahaps taking a leaf out of the ‘chai-pe-charcha’ campaign that Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to the hilt for political success in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Gonda district magistrate Ashutosh Niranjan has kicked off a ‘coffee with collector’ wherein he randomly selects a village panchayat, drives in with his officials for a cup of coffee and problems of the village are discussed and settled then and there!

The first edition of the event was held recently in the Paraspur development block at the panchayat of Mijhaura where, over steaming cups of coffee, village head Vipin Kumar Singh, the lekhpal (revenue official) and the panchayat secretary deliberated upon a host of issues ranging from roads to potable water to power supply.

It was also decided that the gram pradhans would very soon host a similar meeting over lunch with the lekhpal, panchayat secretary, beat constable and other grassroot-level workers. “The idea is to strengthen the panchayat system and setttle many issues like land disputes at the grassroot level,” Niranjan told IANS.

Varanasi district magistrate Vijay Karan Anand is setting a similar example wherein many-a-time he hitches a motorbike ride to reach far-flung locations to “catch up with reality”. Only recently, he rode pillion at 5 in the morning to physically check issues like cleanliness, the power situation and sewerage.

He found the situation in neighbourhoods like Dayanagar Malin Basti and Sigra “pathetic” and was quick to order immediate course correction. He has also been visiting villages very early in the morning to dissuade people from open defecation.

“It is amazing to see such officials; it is a reassuring feeling,” said Vivek Singh, who works with a telecom company in Varanasi.

Moradabad district magistrate Zuhair Bin Sageer has done some exemplary developmental work in the villages. Not only did he step out of the confines of his air-conditioned office but was also instrumental in creating a mobile application for monitoring work in what are designated Lohia villages, where affordable housing is being developed for the poor.

Kinjal Singh, the district magistrate of Faizabad, is still remembered for her good work during her previous stint in Lakhimpur Kheri, wherein she not only got special sheds made as dining areas for school children for their mid-day meals but also initiated a process to assimilate the marginalized Tharu tribe into the mainstream.

Pilibhit district magistrate Masoom Ali Asgar has almost cleared the high-profile political constituency of encroachments. He is also credited with beautifying the tiger reserve here.

Suhaas LY, the district magistrate of Azamgarh, the parliamentary constituency of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, has scriped a unique method of beautifying the city, its roundabouts and major roads. Through the PPP model, the young bureaucrat has ensured beautification and lighting up of all the city’s major intersections.

Lucknow district magistrate Raj Shekhar is also creating waves. From ensuring restaurants are freed of child labour to clearing a whopping 1,000 acres of encroached government land, Shekhar is also known for his modest style and easy accessibility.

“We all have been assigned a job by the government and we are just doing it to the best of our abilities,” Shekhar told IANS.