The Indian Administrative Services (IAS) is one of the most sought after career choices for young and meritorious individuals in India. It gives them the opportunity to utilize their leadership qualities and talents in a way that brings about transformation in the lives of those at the base of the pyramid.
Here’s a look at two such leaders who are working at the ground level to change lives:
Overcoming barriers with e-rickshaws: Shri Satyendra Kumar
Shri Satyendra Kumar is bringing about a paradigm change as the current Chief Development Officer of Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district. He is a 2013 batch IAS officer who has worked as the Joint Magistrate of Jaunpur and Deoria.
In Bareilly, he initiated the Mahila E-Rickshaw Project for inducting and training underprivileged women to drive e-rickshaws, conventionally a male-dominated job. Shri Satyendra Kumar was also a recipient of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Innovation in Governance Award 2019 for this initiative in the Women & Child Welfare category.
A large number of women in the district are abandoned by their families and often struggle to find employment. Moreover, many women find themselves inhibited behind the Purdah or customs, unable to work even when needed by their family in difficult circumstances. At the same time, a spare of crimes against children are perpetrated by drivers or conductors of their school vehicles, adding to the parents’ worries.
The Mahila-E-Rickshaw Project sought to tackle both of these contemporary issues by identifying women in need of help like Teen-Talaq victims, widows, wives of incapacitated husbands and helped them join Self-Help Groups (SHGs) through NULM/NRLM and trained them to drive and e-Rickshaw. The women were provided bank loans for purchasing the e-rickshaws, which were then attached with various schools to provide safe and caring “Driver Didi” for the children.
Women applicants were called for the project through public notices, newspaper articles, and district probation officers and 50 women were identified. These women were given orientation training on basic financial skills, traffic rules and were encouraged to join or form SHGs as small support groups. Driving simulation training was conducted for the women in batches and thereafter, 25 women were shortlisted for E-rickshaw driving training. After the training, their driving licenses were applied for and they received required licenses.
Thereafter, bankers were approached for financing the e-rickshaw for the trained women. Based on the credit ratings and other criteria, Bank of Baroda finalized a list of final 10 Mahila-E-rickshaw beneficiaries. By then, many schools and beneficiaries had contacted each other and some started to drive for schools, some for themselves at major circles. To give them a distinct identity, the beneficiaries were given Pink-E-Rickshaw and a separate logo.’
It has been observed that all 10 beneficiaries have hugely benefited from their employment as e-Rickshaw owners and drivers. It has given them the financial independence and the confidence to face the world. Most of them are earning more than Rs 20000/month, regularly paying their loan installments and saving enough for their families. Moreover, they have become role models for many other women, who are now approaching the Mahila drivers for the training and financing. It has also provided security to the girls and school children travelling in the rickshaws.
This initiative can be easily scaled up to cover more beneficiaries and in other districts with similar socio-economic setup. For large-scale implementation, there is a need for greater consultation and greater effort at creation of positive social environment.
Improving health of tribal families: Shri Tushar Sumera
Shri Tushar Dalpatbhai Sumera is a 2012 batch IAS officer who is presently posted as the Regional Commissioner of Municipalities, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. He has done remarkable work in improving the healthcare and sanitation facilities under the project ‘Ek Sham Halpati Parivaar Ke Saath’ in Navsari district. The project aims to address the problems of addiction, malnourishment, maternal deaths, infant deaths among the Halpati Tribe of the district.
‘Ek Sham Halpati Parivaar Ke Saath’ was undertaken to address various health issues faced by the Halpati Tribe that lives in the South Gujarat region. The project started with the entire team of Class-I officers of District Panchayat Navsari visiting Halpati areas in various villages of the district. Thereafter, de-addiction and health check-up camps were organized, presided by the Health Department of the district Panchayat. The addicted people were identified and counselled daily. Street Plays regarding de-addiction were also conducted. Halpati women were financially integrated and involved in livelihood projects through formation of SHGs and youth were engaged by creating Youth Clubs in the villages. The community members were also enrolled in government schemes for their welfare. Finally, all the officers would sit down and eat with Halpati Families. This programme used to happen as frequently as twice a week.
Shri Tushar Sumera received the Dr. Kalam Innovation in Governance Award 2019 for this initiative under the Healthcare, Sanitation and Nutrition category. The project was recognized for its innovative use of key actors from the same community and village while also reaching a major chunk of the population through its socialization initiatives. Subsequently, a major livelihood project has been planned for the SHGs that were formed during the events. Under this project, local ponds will be given on lease to these groups for inland fishing. This project will be taken up as a follow up of the ‘Ek Sham’ project.
These two stories instantiate how effective public and administrative service needs a single-minded devotion to the goal of benefiting the citizens of the nation!