Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Chief Development Officer

                                 "Challenges Before  A  CDO"
          The district administration of Uttar Pradesh basically looms around  two main pillars. One is law and order and the other is development. The first one is controlled by District Magistrate(DM) with the help of Sub-Divisional Magistrates(SDM) and Police. The development is headed by a Chief Development Officer (CDO). The CDO accomplishes his task with a team of Block Development Officers and district level officials of different departments.
          The maintenance of law and order is the utmost and top priority. It is followed by developmental work for the district admin head. DM keeps his team vigilant for 24x7. He accomplishes  this responsibility with the help of his SDMs and Police. He is commander-in -chief for law and order. He can avail and acquire any or all the services of public and private to keep law and order intact. 
          The task of a CDO is to see all round progress and development of the district in rural areas. Urban Development is controlled by local urban bodies. Each body is headed by an elected Mayor or Chairman. Broadly, we can divide various different departments of rural development into different sectors. Social and Agricultural sectors are core sectors of rural development. Educational and Medical sectors are equally important. Infrastructural sector acts as back-up.
          Social sector has many district level officials. One, district social welfare officer; two, district minority welofficer; three, district backward welfare officer; four, ADDO(SK);five, district handicapped welfare officer.All of them provide scholarships, pensions and financial assistance in the form of subsidy and loan to their respective categories. The poorest of the poor is to be covered as beneficiaries. Benefits directly  reaches into the bank accounts of beneficiaries. Leakages in routes are minimum now.
          Agricultural sector has many officials in the district. A deputy director  heads this sector. He is supported by many officials. One, district agriculture officer; two, plant protection officer; three, social conservation officers. The Government of India (GoI) runs many agricultural programs and projects with the help of state officials. It is the backbone of our national economy. It provides livelihood to two-third of our population. Hence, it requires utmost care and attention.
          Agricultural sector is supported by its allied departments. Animal husbandry, horticulture and fisheries are main departments. These are headed by Chief Veterinary Officer(CVO), District Horticulture Officer(DHO) and Assistant Director(AD) fisheries respectively. Dairy development, poultry and fish farming along with horticulture mission are flagship schemes of state and GoI to raise the income level of farmers. Agriculture is taking shape of agribusiness.
          Educational sector is basically divided into three parts. The first is primary education, headed by the Basic Shiksha Adhikari(BSA).The second is middle education, controlled by District Inspector of Schools (DIOS). And the third is higher education, headed by Regional Higher Education officer posted at divisional level.

          Medical sector consists of four departments. The chief medical officer(CMO) heads the Allopathy.  Homeopathy , Ayurveda and Unani are other departments headed by different officials. CMO is in limelight and rest are in its shadow. Health issue is an important aspect.  Different health programs and projects are in place to keep our poor and needy public healthy.
          In infrastructural sector Public Works Department(PWD) and Irrigation department are lead by the irresprctive executive engineers. Electricity department is headed by superintending engineer. PWD deals in mainly construction of roads. While irrigation department is involved in making irrigating canals. Project officer NEDA is popularising renewable energy. Solar  energy products are getting popularity.
          There are other departments. Assistant registrar cooperative is entrusted with co-operative societies. These societies supply agricultural finances, fertilisers and seeds at right time with credit facilities. Assistant Llabour Commissioner(ALC) and General Manager, district industrial centre are important officials.
             I joined as Chief Development Officer at Ballia on the 1st April, 2013 after 23 days of my transfer. For the first time, this multidimensional and multifarious responsibility put a big challenge before me. Having no experience of this position, I brought myself in learning mode to know the CDO. After discussing with officials, I reached to conclusion that they are either not known or little known about their departmental programs.
          Officials do not get copies of government orders(GO) to know programs' details for proper and timebound implementation. Planning and monitoring of programs and projects are rarely found. Officials lack enthusiasm and motivation. Problem solving and helping attitude of district level officers are seldomly seen. Evaluation of program and projects efficiency and qualities are not visible in field. Accountability-fixing of officials are not in place. Departmental heads and assistants avoid to bring the things in the notice of CDO. This prevailing attitude is highly dangerous for the programs and projects.
          Seeing an overall dismal situation, I evolved a three-step-system for officials- Educate, Motivate and Monitor(EMM). To get delivery in ground, I started working on EMM. This gave me results. Hard work and leaning mode are two key elements which put each and every officials on move. These initiative  made me a real CDO rather than a passive and paper based official.
          I directed all departments to provide all GOs to all workers to study. I monitored so all got the copies of GOs. Then, I tried to force them to learn these GOs. I made it compulsory for every officials to maintain a file of GOs and read it time and again. This way I educated all officials about their projects and programs. This step enriches officials with knowledge about what to do, how to do, why to do and when to do. This enhances the confidence-level of employees and aroused an interest in them about their duties and responbilities.
           To motivate officials, as first step, I took employees' service matters. In a drive, I got completed all personal records of officials. Sorted out their service-   matter problems within a week. This sent a good signal among them. As second step, I started meetings of all officials to discuss the details of projects and programs. In this meeting, I motivated and convinced them to work responsibly. Always told them that your problems are mine. Take all credits earned and transfer all discredits to me. This greatly inspired the officials. After two meetings of each department, their motivational level went up and as a result the performance improved.
          After education and motivation, I did rigorous monitoring. In this progress monitoring, removing obstacles was my main task. This facilitated and encouraged workers. On an average, one field visit everyday and issuance of visit notes jolted all district officials. Visits remained sudden and undisclosed. This made officials on high alert, round the clock.
           Jolting and scolding without any punishment were my main tool to keep them energised for work. Initially, I took six meetings every day with an average time of one hour for each meeting of each departments. This forced me to do hard work. Every meeting and field visit were covered as news items by local daily papers. This made public known about projects and programs. This helped in making good image of governments and district administration.
          A good media management to propagate projects and programs helped a lot in associating public with it. Every day visit notes and meeting minutes along with photographs are mailed to a group mail of journalists in the district. This helped in wide coverage of developmental activities, innovations and initiatives. Kept posting these on my social media accounts. Facebook, twitter, G+ and linkedin are four sites which got regular inputs as post. I entrusted a contract employee for this task. This improved the image of district administration in the public eye.
          My experiences say a CDO must work 8 am to 8 pm as I did. If not, desired results would have not come in picture. The team building of good officials is another mile stone of success. Giving credit to officials for their good work is essential for delivery in ground. Making all officials a continuous learner is hard task far a CDO. A strong message always prevailed that CDO can come anywhere at anytime. Easy accessibility of CDO for officials and public was a norm.  EMM is a successful experiment in my one and half year of CDOship in Ballia and Firozabad. Job satisfaction and bringing smile on the face of poor public are my main achievements as CDO.
Heera Lal (views are personal and based on different sources)

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