The miles to go before I sleep...

  • Start teaching science at school and incorporate demo
  • Research, design, implement comprehensive teaching module on science, civic sense
  • Interview social change agents working @ ground level
  • Pilot peer-to-peer teaching programme

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mr. Role model IAS

The offshoot of the fast growing economy and getting-rich-fast middle class is not only the fast increasing consumerism, but also fast increasing social consciousness among the young-and-the-restless. Consequently, the government apathy and corruption seems to dominate the hot debate, be it in the media or overtea.

But are all those in the government corrupt? Or all of them callous towards their duty? Over the last few month I have come across some surprising encounters that demonstrated extra ordinary commitment public interest amongst a few bureaucrats (IAS officers) who, in their flesh and blood, walk the surface of India (this is a partial lift-off from Einstein's famous mention about Bapuji).

Here is quick mention of three of them

Mr. M.N. Vijaykumar, IAS (Bangalore, Karnataka)

He has been a crusader against corruption among his colleagues and politicians in the state of Karnataka for the past 25 years. He had once tried to introduce a transparent systems by which files related to public works are freely available online at http://bngregcommr.freespaces.com/ (link broken), but three days before the site became operational, he got transferred with immediate effect. That was just one of the six-times he was transferred for either blowing the whistle or trying to make the system more transparent. His wife maintains a frequently updated blog in which she claims harrassment and threats by his own higher-ups and attempts on his life. She also has a forum for people to participate.


Dr. Santhosh Babu, IAS (Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu)
He has made news for his success in bringing school kids to where they belong - school!. In his back2school program he partners with Sarva Shikha Abiyan and AID India, uses computer technology to track kids who don't show up for school, and send a Village Volunteer force (VVF) track them down, find out the reason (usually the necessity to work), solve their respective problems and bring the kids back to school.

To show the scale and effectiveness of this program, let me provide two quotes from Business Standard here
"The effort involves a 10,000-Village Volunteer Force (VVF) consisting of child volunteers, panchayat presidents and headmasters of the 1,700-odd schools in the district."
"Using software aptly named, back2school, developed by Chennai-based Arbiter, the district administration monitors each schoolgoing child daily. And the results are showing: 8,000 of the 8,867 school dropouts are back in school."
And this is just one of the slew of his educational initiatives such as Ariviyal Anandam (Joy of science) program provides science kits and trains teachers to use them to teach children in about 10 districts of Krishnagiri, and Padippum Inikkum ("Education is interesting too") initiative to use trained volunteers of AID India and SSA help teachers and students to improve the reading ability of the kids by way personal attention and in-class demonstration.

Dr. Kushal Pathak, IAS India Post
A medical doctor by education and an avid web-developer by hobby he has harnessed his passion and profession to create not just one, but two useful platforms for the general public who may need help on social issues and issues related to handling the government.

bighelpers.org is a forum of citizens to help his/her fellow citizens on any problems he/she may face, from drinking problem, getting a ration card or filing a police complaint.

He has also created another web-portal dedicated to Right to information in which he has comprehensive information database and discussion forum for procedural and legal aspects exclusive RTI.

India has a lot of people and limited available resources. This leads to competition and inevitably forces people to bend or break the rules for survival. Given that, it is easy for anyone (not just a government official) with a secure job to step down from his/her ideological stance and settle for an easier way of earning his/her life (by way of corruption or simply shunning responsibility). In this scenario, the live example provided by these three extraordinary gentlemen (and I am sure a numerous others unknown to the general public) upholds the faith that good governance and justice do have place outside the
law books and among the society. It is just a matter of will.

Full credits to where it is due.

9 comments:

sidharth said...

Hello Badri,

This is sidharth. That's a nice post.

AFAIK Dr. Kushal Pathak is in Indian Police Service not an I.A.S.

Sid

P.S. I have posted this to various news groups for wide circulation.

Aish said...

Good post Badhri. Yes, we do have a very good number of people, not necessarily in the executive wing of the government, who have the will to work towards a better society.

The number is small in percentage terms but I guess this is a grouse for many countries.

Goli said...

Badri,

this was a great post. I really loved it. I think blogosphere needs many more posts like this.

Pulkit said...

Good info. I only knew about the TN-based officer.

It's heartening to see people making a sizable social contribution as a part of their job/profession. This is one thing that pinches me a great deal, being an IT employee. You can only chip in part-time/online and financially. This post has made me wonder a tad more about the idea of retiring from IT at around 30 and taking up something that assists the community and sustains my family simultaneously. Regardless of whether I go for it or not, it would be worthwhile discussing what all ways in which one can do this. Ideas, esp. those of the social entrepreneurship kind, are invited.

ranjit nair said...

Nice research Badhri.
Yes, there are lots of nice officers in the services who really care about ppl.
Especially today when the very fabric of IAS is changing, with more people from rural background joining, it sure has better days ahead.
Some of the officers whom I remember are Alphons Kananthanam in kerala.
http://video.webindia123.com/interviews/governors/alphonskannanthanam/index.htm

Another guy is Harsh Mander from Gujarat.
http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/15052002/1505200263.htm

Abhijit said...

Just thinking about a handful of "supposedly doing good work" IAS officers, and conclude that IAS is a good service will be too naive a judgment. Why don't you ask these questions: How many of the IAS/IPS are really being pro-people? How many of the top post holders in civil services have the record of being totally non-corrupt, and doing all the pro-people work? What about the limitations of policies of the government which themselves are anti-people? Can an IAS officer go beyond her superiors and politicians and really be pro-people? All the "good" Civil servants left their job and joined public movement. What does that tell us? Just good people are not enough, it does require a better understanding of what is "good" and what are limitations on role of good people in an ill-designed system.

Abhijit said...

Just thinking about a handful of "supposedly doing good work" IAS officers, and conclude that IAS is a good service will be too naive a judgment. Why don't you ask these questions: How many of the IAS/IPS are really being pro-people? How many of the top post holders in civil services have the record of being totally non-corrupt, and doing all the pro-people work? What about the limitations of policies of the government which themselves are anti-people? Can an IAS officer go beyond her superiors and politicians and really be pro-people? All the "good" Civil servants left their job and joined public movement. What does that tell us? Just good people are not enough, it does require a better understanding of what is "good" and what are limitations on role of good people in an ill-designed system.

Badhri said...

Abhijit,
May be you got me wrong. I never concluded that IAS is a good service. I only gave credit to these three who use their power to do some good work.

ranjit nair said...

Hey Abhijit,

Having interacted with a lot of ppl in the services, I can assure you that a good number of them are pretty serious & good at serving people. I have seen some collectors working as much as 15-16 hrs a day trying to keep things moving. It's just that our negative news centric media always fails to catch up with those nice things.

And then again, we sometimes forget how complicated & tasking a day to day workday of a civil servant can be.Added to it lower salaries and political involvement...I guess we should really appreciate how they help move the wheels of this great nation day after day.

It's very easy for techies & working executives to sit in AC offices and crib about their non-performance but very difficult on gound when you get posted in a malaria infested rural village with 5 hour a day electricity & start trying to make a difference to the lives of ppl ard you.