Op-Ed: Walking The Extra Mile

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: It is not often that one sees an IAS officer in Odisha trekking through a hilly terrain and fording a river to reach out to people living life dangerously in virtually inaccessible areas. On Sunday the sub-collector of Ganjam, Shinde Dattatraya Bhausaheb undertook such a journey to interact with the residents of tribal villages located on a hill top in the district’s Patrapur block.

Bhausaheb, who was accompanied by other officials, sought to convince the residents of these mudslide-prone villages to shift to the plains in their own interest. The mission was just as important as the young IAS officer’s willingness to accept difficulties to connect with the people.

Fortunately for Odisha some young IAS officers have been displaying exemplary commitment in the discharge of their duties. They appear more than willing to go the extra mile to make life easy for the people. They have been compassionate and empathetic.

Take for example the case of Ganjam collector, Vijay Amruta Kulange who recently stepped into a water-filled paddy field in a village under Khallikot block to plant paddy saplings with local farmers. The gesture was important as it helped him strike an immediate chord with the farmers who must have felt re-assured about the district administration’s readiness to help them.

Kulange, who had gone to the area to enquire about the ongoing paddy plantation work and the problems the farmers might be facing, was quick to take off his shoes and roll up his sleeves as he entered the paddy fields to join those engaged in the plantation work. For the nearly twenty minutes, the 2013-batch IAS officer worked in the field while carrying on his conversation with the farmers.

While the farmers were happy the IAS officer’s act made waves across the social media, drawing praise from everyone including chief minister, Naveen Patnaik. “Ganjam district magistrate Vijay Amruta Kulange’s act of planting paddy saplings along with the farmers and telling them about the advantages of row-planting signifies dedicated public service. I thank the district magistrate for working close to the people and with a sense of dedication,” Patnaik wrote on his Twitter handle.

Yet another example of similar dedication was former Nayagarh collector, Arindam Dakua’s cycling mission to connect with people at the grassroots to collect first-hand information about the implementation of various government programmes and schemes.

During his tenure as the collector of the district he used to ride his bicycle to reach far flung villages to know about the well being of peopled. Dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and sporting a helmet, once he travelled around 80 kms to reach villages interior villages like Mahipur, Singarpalli, Bahadajhola, Dutikeswar, Odagaon and Sarankul to interact with their residents and find out whether government schemes were reaching them.

It is this commitment which is important and if chief minister, Naveen Patnaik’s 5T formula of governance has to turn into reality then the government would need more such officers who are willing to abandon the comfort of their air-conditioned offices to reach out to people.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)