From Where We Stand...

Its been almost two years since I became a fellow and was posted in one of these so called backward districts - Surajpur. Time and again I have been asked questions like what am I here for what is the agenda that I'll pursue here. Some have probably gone far ahead and labelled me as the crazy guy to leave home to spend time a 1000 miles away. But there is something about the job that we do as fellows that makes waking up every morning and slogging it out very addictive.

May be its the power that we derive out of our knowledge. This isn't a generalization, but most of the mid level and lower level staff in the government have low educational qualifications and haven't had anyone to guide them or teach them efficient ways of doing everyday work. Teaching new tricks for analyzing data on excel or using cloud computing for syncing files or even basic techniques in any software makes the staff look at you in awe and the more interested youngsters are always eager to learn these tricks. Technicians surely are a much in demand entity here. And that is how we get the high and mighty to listen to us.

We get a chance to interact with people first hand, understand their problems and most importantly, do something about it. A Government employee is a much revered person in the villages of India. Introducing yourself as a government staff breaks most barriers with the villagers and they'll surely start listing down their problems in ways they wouldn't ever do with CBOs or other activists.
Belonging to the higher ranks in the government set up has its added benefits and we can take up issues highlighted by the people with the concerned authorities to ensure that at least some action is taken. So many villagers just want someone to lend a ear to their problems and we are in an ideal position to play that role.

Bringing in innovations to schemes that have been running in set patterns is one task that definitely gives the kicks. We can suggest steps that would help implement the scheme in a better way. Though my experience suggests that large scale innovations have rarely succeeded and are a difficult task to implement, it is the subtle innovations in the delivery mechanism that can create an everlasting impact on the implementation of scheme. Ideas in publicity and awareness generation, data collection, beneficiary selection, monitoring of these schemes are mostly heard by the concerned authorities and a little bullying can ensure that these are implemented.
The large scale innovations aren't completely ignored either. Creating models showing convergence or better ways of doing things under a scheme is one area where most districts lack trained staff. Understanding the provisions of different schemes and bringing together resources from different departments is an activity that we are most suitably positioned to take up. Packaging the project and highlighting it in the media will surely ensure that enough eyeballs are placed to ensure that the project breaks ground.

So then could there be a better job that allows you to roam freely, understand fully and show your creativity in the development sector. While the job gives us a great opportunity, it is completely up to us what we make of it.


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