Under our webinar series ‘Shaasan’, we bring to you different bureaucrats who have initiated good governance schemes to discuss their work, innovative solutions to public problems and the challenges they faced. For our first episode we had a conversation with Mr. Rahul Narwal, IAS batch 2016. He is the District Municipal Commissioner and ADC at Bhiwani in Haryana.
Q. Digital transformation has taken place. So has this digital era fastened the administrative process of passing an order or has it stalled it?
Yes definitely you are right Sagar, definitely. Digital era has transformed things. Like i’ll give you an example in Haryana. We have an e-office where the files are processed in the computers through a software, e-office Haryana. Right from the lower executive like from the LDC clerk to the higher executive, the files are processed through the e-office software. I can give you another example. The Social Media platform. We are using social media platforms in the government sector like in a department where orders can be communicated easily through social media. The whatsapp group and twitter can really transform things and the change and the loopholes which were earlier accessed are plugged now but definitely digital transformation and usage is part of things. Security issues related to it is also a part of things. So I think the digital changes are taking place in Haryana or in the executive but mainly there are some security and confidential issues that are also involved in it.
Q. We say that a public servant is a public figure as well and somewhere people also say that the life of a public servant is also open. How much percentage of your life is confidential and public?
See, my work is 80% public. In a dept setup, rules and procedures we are bound to display all our govt instructions, work orders and steps which are going to benefit the public and is to be put up on the district website and displayed on the public boards. So 80-90% of the work is definitely in the public domain and under the domain of the RTI. But there are some confidentials 5-10%, some law and order issues, some conflict that arises or some sensitive issue that arises, that we have to keep confidential to balance the things. If we keep these public then it can lead to chaos.
Q. You Mentioned RTI. How active are you regarding RTI and does it hamper your work or does it give you morale satisfaction?
Since it came in 2005, things which were hidden from the public are now in the public domain. So my take on RTI is that if we can get everything on display boards, everything put up on the administrative websites and on departmental websites then the pressure on the RTI applicants can be automatically reduced. So RTI will definitely put every bureaucracy in a mission mode approach to complete the task which is assigned to them.
Q. RTI was introduced to reduce the corruption under the system and it is believed that corruption is also a part of bureaucracy and believed that it keeps decreasing with growing technology and modernisation. What are your views on this?
I believe that corruption is a taboo associated with every executive or executive wing and it is associated with bureaucracy. RTI cuts the legs of corruption to some extent. Along with that human interference, interactions, decision making is also decreasing. I’ll give you an example of Parivaar Pehchan Patra Scheme launched by the Govt of Haryana. It will transform governance in Haryana. all the schemes are through family id, all the benefits to the availing beneficiaries are through family id. We can track the original beneficiary and through this Parivar Pehchan Patra the har govt identifies some ghost beneficiaries like about some 7 days back there was a widow whose pension was given to a male member in har and we could track that through Parivar Pehchan Patra and RTI. So, corruption is a taboo and it is not associated with executive only, it is a long-term disease and we need to plug the loopholes through RTI, human interference, minimization and through digital transformation. So, it will take time. There are still some loopholes that need to be plugged. There are somethings that we need to keep and work on but moral ethics are also associated with corruption and a multifaceted approach needs to be deployed to cut this disease.
Q. How synchronized are the upper and lower bureaucracy? Do they work together or independently?
We are very much synchronized. The Govt starts from the ACS level, Additional Chief Secretary level and govt ends to the lower divisional clerk. So mostly the ACS instructions and the govt orders are synchronised and directed to a lower level of bureaucracy. Regular communication in administration is there in Haryana. I’m talking specially in Haryana. Rest other states I’m not completely aware of but in Haryana regular communications are there, regular meetings are there and regular change of command is there and regulate exchange of views is there. We are very much synchronised. The reason behind this is that our common goal is of public service. The goal of the higher echelons is also public service and the lower echelons is also public service. There are some issues involved in that. Sometimes the field problems are not taken up at a particular level so we flag that at an appropriate level and these field problems are plugged day by day.
Q. There is a notion attached with the word ‘BABU’ used for bureaucrats. Do you consider that it is a professional service and how is it different from higher ranks of Big Private Companies?
This word babu has been associated with bureaucracy since we got independence. But in the 21st century my takeup is that the bureaucracy will change itself and will identify as public servant, civil servant. We are servants to the public.
Definitely it is a professional service associated with public goals and public life. And in the private sector there are some goals assigned to the benefit of that corporate sector. Our goal is to benefit our goal is to make life easy for the public. It is a professional service with the common goal of public service.
Q. What are your views on lateral entries being recently introduced?
Lateral entry is the need of the hour. We have to pull up the expertise from the private sector into the government sector. But the lateral entry needs to be on that level so that we can get their experience hands-on at least 20 years, 15 years, 10 years. My take is of 15 years at least for 15 years the lateral entry pull up of expertise should be included. So it’s a change of working in the system. So lateral entry, if occurs and with expertise background, definitely we should welcome it.
Q. Nowadays people are demanding reservation on the basis of gender financial status. Do you think reservation should exist at an upper level ?
Definitely, there are demands of reservation on the basis of financial status and gender. I don’t think reservation is needed at the upper level. Like in the higher echelons of bureaucracy the performance should be a measurement. So my takeup on reservation is just for the first step for those underprivileged sections of society which needs to be pulled up but at the upper level reservation should not exist. The performance parameter should be there so that everyone can participate and everyone can compete for the same goal.
Q. What are your ideas on how to make officers more competent and responsible?
My viewpoint is that along with officers the lower executive should also be made more competent. Through regular training, regular target fixation, regular performance parameters we have to devise, regular goal setting. We have to incentivise the public servants. Incentivise for a common goal, incentivise through promotion, incentivise through additional increments. So we can devise different methods for making the officer more competent. Along with that both ethical and moral training should be there and regular training and methodological approach will change the behaviour of the public servant and set their tune for the common goal of public service.
Q. Tell us about the initiatives that you have taken up to create a positive impact in the society.
There are definitely different initiatives that I have taken recently. When I joined as a district municipal commissioner in Bhiwani, the condition of the sanitation was not appropriate. I prepared a sanitation plan along with the wards to be fixed with different safai karogaaz. We have safai karogaaz or you can say sanitary inspectors. There are 20 safai karogaaz. We assign safai karogaaz to different wards, we prepare material recovery facilities, we distribute different dustbins, blue and green dustbins, to different households so that source segregation can work in that manner. We also issued one helpline for sanitation issues. We have a Swachh Haryana portal. Any citizen can click the picture of garbage or unclean road and put up on the swachh haryana portal and it will be cleaned within 6 hours and we have a sanitation helpline which is working 24 hours.
Second initiative I took was of light conditions. Normally in the council, these are small councils, these activities are not taken up. The corporation works more efficiently as compared to councils because the council is less resource based and the incentives are less in the councils. So we prepare a light plan, we issue a light helpline. Any citizen can call on that. Exact locations will be messaged on that and within 24 hours the street light will be repaired.
The third is the prior remediation of legacy waste. I personally facilitate the prior remediation of legacy waste since bhiwani is suffering from that. There is a Dadri road in Bhiwani where we have a large dump waste ground. And we have a remediation tender will facilitate this and the work will start in the coming months. The third thing is that the PM SVANidhi. Bhiwani is performing in the low performing districts. We regularly interact with the bankers, lead district managers, we incentivise the street vendors for PM SVANidhi. Now Bhiwani is a medium performing district. Along with that I would also like to mention that in Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, Bhiwani is the leading district in Haryana.
Q. If you could explain how you made Bhiwani the leading district in Haryana?
When I joined PMAY the different nitty-gritty involved, the system was devised for the issuing of loans. I just verify the actual beneficiaries on the ground which are falling in the PMAY. I conducted regular surveys in three or four days. We have a list of beneficiaries and a list of complaints through which the amount is not going to be transformed in the beneficiary account. We establish a help desk through which any beneficiary can come and get the papers or get their house approved through councils. I will again mention that when you devise or when you plug loopholes in the system, The system will automatically deliver your results. And everywhere PMAY, as my take on that, is functioning. But in Bhawani the PMAY beneficiaries are more than happy and we are conducting the regular unit building and regular exercise of survey, regular exercise of account transfer of money in beneficiaries accounts. So that is my job satisfaction.