Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Collector who STEPS OUT-- If he can why not others?

Imagine if all Collectors do?
If all Municipal commissioners do?
If Secretaries of land and development, agriculture, public works department, medical services, education, social welfare, transport, law and order, rural and urban development, environment and others do?
Why must they not be in the field to see implementation?
Why can they not be proactive?
And preventive? Rather than be reactive?
Why must they wait for people to complain? Why can't they sense people's needs for which they are and be self driven?
This is what we from RajNivas have been repeatedly advising.
Some have done, many have not.
By their not stepping  out we are losing time in the speed of change.
People are suffering needlessly.
Also corruption complaints will reduce by being at the spot.
Seniors will get to know their officers better. They too will have to show performance.
Seeing is believing. Field speaks.
There are today several funded schemes from govt of india for the people of india.
To ensure their full use unless officers step out these will remain mostly on paper.
Or remain under utilised.
Funds will get surrendered.
Money is precious.
It must be optimally utilised.
Once public officers realise the higher purpose of their privileges, they will step out.
This is exactly where RajNivas Team has done for almost the whole of last 12 months.
It has Stepped Out.
We are seeing, reviewing, correcting, guiding,  mentoring, training, collaborating, providing, and directing. Most of all listening and learning.
Because this is the higher purpose of being in high positions.
To serve and transform.
For that the more they step out the more they will achieve.
Like this Collector. He is proving it.
If one can do, so can all. others.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Every position is a responsibility to the degree one wants to..!

Why Biking as a Lt Governor?

Because it makes such  a position give a message of accessibility and accountability.

One of simplicity and integration.
Also one of proximity and communication.
What if more senior positions do this wherever it is possible.
In rural areas with roads or small towns in early hours of the morning when traffic may be low.
We as TeamRajnivas choose 6AM every weekend. (we are now on 80 th morning round coming Sat)
Much before the traffic picks up and return by 8.30 AM.
It sends a message to all that cities have to be clean and obstruction free for people to walk and drive. It also helps greet people as one pedals..
The common man becomes a part of the governance.
He feels he is related and can reach out.
What if all Municipal Commissioner bike early hours of weekend/s or choose the days they wish and drive past heaps of garbage.
Will it remain or vanish.
It will vanish.

Instead of going for a morning walk to a gym or a Public Park or a beach at least once a week bike around the town and see the change.
It will make grass root staff work and deliver and display their good work. People too will cooperate.
Once appreciated a positive change will come about. It will bring in shared responsibility.
This happens only when persons in top positions are committed by act not word..

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

For Grievance Redressal...

This is a practice which was adopted way back in 1982 during DCP traffic days in Delhi Police.
It worked. It empowered commuters to complain.
We already have police control rooms to respond.
There is always a possibility of a response. But this has a restraining impact on the driver. ( as seen)
It gives the passenger a tool to check. ...
Even appreciate. We have rewarded drivers too.
Such like solutions come when public officials stay close to the ground level and remain sensitive to people's needs.
This must be available in hard copies as well as on social networks down loadable with assured response.
It's a serious grievance which must be addressed on a regular basis.
Make whatsapp numbers available where people can photo send it too.
This is being done in Puducherry.
Hard copy can be contributed by CSR active community social groups.

Social media has empowered people in real time.

Social media has empowered people in real time.

They need to value and use this better. School lessons on how to use it best need to be given in class rooms, and training halls for public servants to take them out of a time warp. (those who need).

It breaks monopolies.

It makes systems vibrant and participative.

Enclosed is the piece worth reading..

We in Puducherry have used social media it to the best of our ability, sometimes to the annoyance and respect, at the same time.

But that is not the purpose.

Larger objective always is respecting people's right to know and help them make informed decisions or choices.

To be free to form their own perspectives.

The demographic dividend to be truly a reservoir of human energy has to be engaged in citizen responsibility beyond casting a 'trust' vote

The demographic dividend to be truly a reservoir of human energy has to be engaged in citizen responsibility beyond casting a 'trust' vote once in five years. ( which many still do not go out to vote).

The lead must be given by leadership at key levels to ensure people willingness to participate and contribute.

The key levels are

--Elected representatives.

And the Appointed Public officials.

First the elected representatives. ( all levels).

They can be the real social reformers. After winning the votes they need to return to people to organise them in social reform. Make leadership groups of them for environment, women's dignity, value systems, skills development for youth, care for elders. Ensuring rule of law so that people feel secure in mobility and visibility.

Just as they hold political meetings for seeking votes they must return to people with social reform agenda. Time to time. And their performance assessment be not what they gave away free but what transformation they brought about in quality of life of the people.

One which is inclusive and not divisive.

Creating self reliance  and not dependence and expectations for free lunches.

It's about creating opportunities of social,political and economic empowerment.

Next leadership is by the public servants.

After getting appointed they must step out daily to see and review implementation.

They must go to people rather that wait for them to come.

This is will ensure sensitivity, quality performance, integrity in governance and financial prudence.

Both currently are in serious deficit.

What is being achieved to an extent is through NGOs supported by CSR.

Or by missionaries and activists on their own.

These have a limited reach.

To ensure comprehensive citizen engagement it has to be an alignment of intention to serve by elected leadership, appointed public servants and social workers.

'New India' will be fast forwarded by this synergy.

Friday, December 02, 2016

On preventing jailbreaks-Think before you wink

Are audacious jailbreaks, setting militants and gangsters free, preventable? Yes they are, provided the prison management work is done diligently, 24x7 by all ranks, 365 days a year, from warder to chief warder.
Prison security is a case of sustained red alert and can brook no weakening. There is no moment even for a wink. Because prison is a place that houses inmates of all levels, most critical being the dangerous and unsafe to be allowed in the open society. Some are a known threat to society and therefore need to be kept within bounds, under a hawk’s eye. Prisons need to be guarded every second, by people who are trained, trusted and are equipped with weapons.
I have used three key words. Trusted, trained and equipped. Let me address the first. Trusted: For those entrusted with trust have to be worthy of trust. Are they? Can they be? If so, who? And how?
Prison environment (unless heavily reformative and transformative, which is rare) breeds contamination, deceit, corruption, violence and mistrust. It’s all stealth and falsehood. It’s an institution of depraved who are only waiting to get away by hook or crook. They cannot do so without assistance from within. Which means breach of trust is the way from within the jail staff. Therefore, more vigil, not only on inmates but on the staff is critical by superiors.
Prison environment being highly negative rubs on people who serve there. Hence such an environment keeps the institution vulnerable to lives at risk. Like the killing of the head warder in Bhopal jail by intruders in the recent jailbreak there. So how does one ensure that the entrusted remain trust worthy? By placing vigil over the vigil. But by whom? By the chiefs.
The chiefs have to constantly be on the move. Use all possible means to remain abreast of goings in prisons with best use of technology. They need to deploy all kinds of drill scenarios, doing mock exercises and laying surprise traps. Any one falling in the cracks must be ruthlessly dismissed from service under Article 311(2) of the Indian Constitution, as a threat to security of state. Unless this unsparing rule is followed, we will, at reasonable intervals, continue to threaten safety and security of the state.
All levels of supervision must be held accountable. It is their responsibility to ensure vigil over the vigil. The strategy has to be theirs, accountability is theirs. There is no place for any political interference. If the leader allows it, he does it at his own peril, but at a huge cost to the safety of people as whole.
Trained: Who trains those deployed? All levels of leadership are duty bound to do so. Mock drills are a test of reflexes. It’s just one of the many strategies. Internal intelligence systems with intelligent use of technology and eavesdropping are others.
But training is essential. It’s like the infantry in readiness. This will enable warders to ward off negativity and passivity as well. Also instil respect for the responsibility being performed, which many are seen to be losing over a period of time. It must be kept intact.
Equipment: Who equips them? Again, it’s the leaders. The top man has to ensure the staff is provided with technology and physical equipment required to safeguard and protect prison. This reduces pressure on human limitations.
Without proper internal management prisons slip into further decay. Lodging is in the hands of jail superintendent, but it should be reviewed by top leadership.
Never keep all gang members together in a jail. This is the basic mistake being repeated. While being conscious of depravity and threats of deceit, the prison must strive to incorporate all possible reform programmes to reduce collateral damages, including conspiracies from within.
Leadership then can embed sources for information in order to prevent and thwart any such audacious attempts of escapes or internal sabotage by enabling ears and feet closest to the ground. There are no shortcuts to high security. Constant vigil is the only prevention, with leadership which is rule bound, uncompromising and strongly professional.
India should lock up those who by connivance or neglect let state security be compromised. Prisons are both guards and guardians.
 Published on 02, 2016 ( HT Chd Edition)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A date with innocence and real education

This is one conversation that must be shared for the innocent and original views. Of the kind we all want to see in our children (aged between 8 and 12), but do not get it easily.
It was my conversation with over 120 children at Raj Niwas, Puducherry. The children had come from Samskriti School, a residential school run by Isha Foundation, Coimbatore. They came as part of their annual tour that included a visit to the Raj Niwas. This is when I got to meet them and had this rare conversation.
This was not a planned one. It sprang up instantaneously.
The children were all settled in the main Durbar Hall after having been served dinner. As soon as they finished and were seated, I got the message to join in. I knew the background of the school. I had visited it during my visit to Isha Foundation in Coimbatore when I went to do a course in Inner Engineering.
But, I had not had the kind of exclusivity and the length of time I was about to get now with them. As I walked into the prestigious Durbar Hall, used so far only for political or social dignitaries, I saw curiously expectant faces of our special child guests on Vijaydashmi. It could not have been more auspicious for Puducherry.
As I walked in, they expressed their innocent applause in abundance. It was pure and authentic excitement and touched me deeply. I felt blessed. The vibrations were very different. Instinctively, I felt the urge to know how were these children different (if at all) from the rest studying in other schools. Instead of asking their teachers, I decided to ask the children directly. For a while they were quietly surprised. There were a few innocent giggles and a shuffle...
But after an affectionate and persuasive prod, small hands started to crop up. They never looked back to seek their teachers’ approval.
My first and followup questions with their answers are as follows:
What differences do you feel when you go home to be with your parents, siblings and friends?
How do you think you are different from other schoolchildren?
The answers to several of questions were, recorded verbatim here...
“We are different. Because compared to us, our friends are always studying, not enjoying what they do”.
“They carry school bags, we take home no school work”.
“They have to find dance teachers and we always have them with us in school”.
“We are healthy, they are always visiting doctors.”
“They don’t get healthy food”.
“They don’t get to do Kalari (an ancient form of dance craft)”.
“Outside they say ‘namaskar’ only to God whereas we do it to all”.
“They don’t get a platform to perform instantly as we get it in Samskriti”.
“They don’t hit us, while they hit each other”.
“They take us for a trip every year”.
“They (our teachers) don’t want us to mug up. They teach us the what and whys of learning”.
“Here, we give respect everyone. We speak softly and kindly”.
“We get blessings from Sadhguru but others don’t”.
“It’s a great school that my parents found for me”.
“We have forests near our school while others don’t have them”.
“In the library, the fan changes the page and that disturbs me”.
“Here, we love nature but outside people don’t even look at it”.
“Here, we have no exams and therefore no scolding from parents”.
“We have tests but don’t have exams...” I asked... What is the difference between a test and exam?
A child said, “Test is easy, exam is difficult.” I asked... What is difficult and what is easy?
“Whatever we know is easy and whatever we don’t is difficult”.
What is it that you don’t know? I asked.
“Something that we did not read”.
What is that you did not read?
“Big books — the ones that are higher than our (intellect) level and have difficult words”.
I asked, what happens when any one of you makes a mistake?
“When we do something wrong, we get punished. We have to write sentences”.
How do I assess this purity? This truth? This simplicity? This authenticity? This value system?
I told them, each of you will grow up to cleanse the world in whatever is around are what humanity ought to be...
I am sure they did not get the depth of my conclusion. But, I said it because in the audience were seniors too, listening to them, who were as awestruck as I was by the spontaneity of their natural expressions.
This is what residential schools are for and more... this is real education what we are wanting to see, but perhaps wondering how do we do it, or our children and parents accept it?
Or were these children in Samskriti school born with the ‘samskaras’ to get it? Or were they creating them? We need to ask Sadhguru...

Monday, September 19, 2016

What I Learnt In 100 Days As Lieutenant Governor

I have just completed over a hundred days in the current position of Lieutenant Governor, Puducherry, a most pristine and nature-gifted union territory of India.

When I came to this assignment, based on prior briefings, I had already received, I knew I would need a lot of extra energy to deliver transformation. I would also need a lot of real information on the goings on for making informed decisions and offering policy directions.

Question was how do I get there soon enough. I did not know any one personally here who would share ideas informally. I had no personal staff either with whom I had worked earlier to brief me in confidence. So who would I ask for insightful inside information? Over and above that, I did not know the local language, Tamil.

Therefore, how do I access the ordinary person? Or communicate with him to either listen or tell? Most of all, how do I win over the ordinary citizen's trust?

Raj Nivas is housed in a secure heritage mansion built by the French; it is an office-cum-residence. It's a beautiful structure with antique interiors.

Black and white framed pictures adorn the walls of some of its past residents. There is even a picture of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru with Mother of Aurobindo Ashram in my residential office.

I am now part of its present.

For a citizen to access the Lieutenant Governor, he/she has to pass through a few layers of security. Would he easily dare to cross those checks? Or obstacles?  I wondered.

But I had no time to lose.

I have spent all my life making my work accessible. I was informed of some essential protocols required. (They turned out to be not so suffocating) Based on my past work experience, if one does not open an account in the first week and the second at a new work place, it takes long to set the perception going.

And what is the perception that I wanted?

I wanted the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry to be known to be easily accessible, a communicator, citizen-friendly, consultative, collaborative, a solutions provider, secure, well-informed and even recognisable.

I set in motion, based on my experience, some immediate steps.

Here are a few of those:

The first priority was personal energy. I needed extra energy to work 18 hours a day. I equally needed time to reflect on being my own friend. To do auto talk, to seek clarity within on an ongoing basis. I decided to get into a daily practice of Yoga and meditation.

This meant getting up much before sunrise. I recalled my Vipassana teacher, Shri SN Goenka, who  said that the best energy-gaining time is at 4.30 am and to meditate then.

I fixed the alarm for 4 am. I followed the regime. It worked wonders. It energised me, gave me ideas to work on, and provided a mental spring. I felt guided by a higher power. I received a daily blessing. While focussing on my breath, ideas also came calling.

With that energy and ideas generated, I started a daily 10 am meeting with my close team. The colleagues in the team proved to be the most worthy. They were professionally sound, enthusiastic, and trust-worthy.

The daily newspapers became a starting point on the goings-on in the territory. Discussion on those reports added to our priorities of the day to unravel the areas needing urgent attention. It also set the priorities for me. I knew now what needed special attention and why. The newspapers became my credible source of starting point.

We minuted our deliberations and began our meetings with a review of the previous day. This ensured follow-up and implementation. This meant results started to be visible.  We topped it with personal visits, planned and by surprise, to see and understand the problems being reported. This genuine concern brought me close to the common citizen. The benefits were becoming visible. Hope and optimism started to be aired. Expectations also rose. This brought more information. Now from more directions. The e-mail, the social network accounts, the call centres, by mail and more.

The third important step that I took was to ask for a department-wise presentation of their SWOT analysis. This got me introduced to Cabinet Ministers in working together, and senior officers down the line responses and my queries drove home the message that performance with transformative ideas will be the criterion. It will not be work as usual. Everything has to be transparently and expeditiously delivered.

Often, the time for presentations ran into lunch break. The presenting department then joined in for lunch at Raj Niwas. This enabled personal connect within weeks. All 30+ departments were reviewed. Several officers saw and entered the Durbar Hall dinning room for the first time. After the lunch break, I attended to visitors by appointment. They came up with ideas and offers of support. Abundance started to flow.

But along with it came certain serious issues of legacy. This gave me an opportunity to seek more information, study these issues for myself, have the matters examined in a time-bound manner, and even resolve matters hitherto considered impossible. Officers were responding and action started to flow.

As if this were not enough, my 5 to 6 pm slot was earmarked for an Open House, which meant any one could come in without an appointment on a first-come-first-served basis, to be heard. (Within the same security layers.) This shook the system. Every thing now was truly open.

The ball now was in the court of public officials to do the same or else people had the option to reveal them. It also placed the initiative back with people, that now they could report their concerns with the assurance of a follow-up. I instructed all departments to observe an Open Hour for people's grievances. Both the processes bore fruit. While resolving issues, it became a source of information for what all  needed to be addressed.

I was of course being tested but I knew where we were going. Also everyone was waiting for how soon the results would flow.  I knew I had the stamina...

All municipal issues, education, health care, admissions, land encroachments, crimes again women, traffic woes, and more...all of them started to get addressed one by one. The language barrier was broken as I had with me two other exceedingly knowledgable officers to help me understand.

This converted Raj Nivas into a Seva Niwas: there was an over-whelming feeling of assurance, in seeing their last court of appeal open every day with processes of follow-up in place. We coopted the Lok Adalat for several issues. This provided a big relief in grievance redressal.

After 6 pm, it was time to clear office files with my Secretary, Mr G. Theva Neethi Dhas, a man of sound integrity. Having served in most of the positions in Puducherry Administrative Service, he knew the matters from within. Each file was of value. Some involved a tough policy call, with others there was a  long-standing issue waiting for clearance.

Some files turned out to be few years old. (Another legacy.)

Every evening, files were cleared with a sense of objectivity and justice, keeping in mind the interest of the Union Territory and its people. (Some  tough decisions on certain appointments of personal staff set the policies in perspective.)

Many evenings, meetings continued over an early meal together, sometimes with visiting officials to Puducherry, or our own officers, or own ministers.

The most unique initiative which is becoming transformative is the weekend 6 am rounds.

Every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine, we drove/drive out as a team at sharp 6 am to see sites/issues together. The team comprises of the Chief Engineer or his senior colleague, and representatives of irrigation engineers, municipal services, police, environment, forest, slum board, land and development. Often included were the MLAs of the area of visit. It could be canals, drains, ponds, lakes, sewerage treatment plants, bus stops, railway stations, intersections from a road safety point of view, fishing harbours, unauthorised encroachments, infrastructure built but not occupied, and preparation for flood management and more.

The area of visit is announced sometimes just the evening before. Places are identified on the basis of inputs received from all directions through the week.

Shramdaan with handball or volleyball has been introduced. This has helped kickstart the Swachh Bharat movement in communities and even in remote rural areas. All this and more made the first 100 days energetic and dedicated to problem-solving, solutions-providing, decision-making, team and trust-building, empowering, resource-generating, bonding, collaborating, innovative, inspiring, and progressive.

I look forward now to the next 100 for a Prosperous Puducherry, the mantra I gave on my oath-taking day as Lieutenant Governor on May 29.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lessons to girls for doing well in journey called life

How does one feel seeing over 2,000 cute, round, black-haired heads with curious eyes, all in the age group of 16 to 20, sitting cross-legged and you have the task to address them? 

Truly electrified, responsible and caring — that is how I felt when I was in front of an audience of the girl students at Stella Maris College, Chennai. It was an experience that none of us will probably ever forget. 

I decided to prepare them for life ahead, just like a parent prepares a daughter, provided the daughter is listening. And these girls with ears and eyes focused on me, were listening.
It was a colossal inspiration and a responsibility. What do I give them...that they could keep with themselves as an addition to their toolkit of life skills. 

Since I wanted them to be aware, happy, safe and self-reliant, I gave them the three sets of mantras, in a manner that they will always remember. First Mantra was the ‘ABCD of Freedom’. What does freedom mean? It meant ‘Ability’ to flourish. Ability comes from the appropriate use of opportunities.
This is within ‘Boundaries’ to be adhered to, based on the one’s own ‘Conscience’, with a sense of ‘Duty’.
I explained how important at this age was for them to focus on improving their abilities and make the best of opportunities available. The fact that they were enjoying good health, by making use of ‘five wonders’ (five senses), they must understand the value of this gift of nature.
On ‘Boundaries’, I meant self-imposed regulations or discipline based on their own reflection and sense of duty, as students and citizens.
I then took them to the second mantra. It was about the ‘Three Ws’ that can change the world — Women, Weather, and Web.
First ‘W’ was they themselves. It was how they shape their lives and perform. It was in their own hands. The second ‘W’ was the Web or technology. The use of that too is in their hands. How well they use it, how much they train themselves in it and make it as a part of their growth is crucial.
The third ‘W’ is weather, over which none of us has any control. But we need to be prepared to take on its vagaries and volunteer as responsible citizens to check the environment degradation.
I then came to the third mantra, of ‘Three Ms’, which, I believe, change the lives of women in particular. 

The first ‘M’ being money. I explained to them that without financial independence, there will be no empowerment. They must grow up to be self-reliant in all respects. Financial independence will make them secure substantially. 

Second ‘M’ was marriage. I told them the kind of life partner they choose will make or mar their idea of journey called life, as an incompatible marriage is stressful and may stop their growth. But it still is reversible. Marriage is not mandatory.
It is the third ‘M’, the motherhood, that will change their life forever. Once a child is born, the mother relives her life. It is not reversible. 

Hence they must know what they want, when they want, and how will they fulfil their responsibilities. What kind of support system is available for them to nurture their child along with fulfilling their professional pursuits is important. 

In the end I explained to them, all these mantras demand energy from them.
How will they generate it? There is no instant recharge as is there for batteries in electronics. They have to have the skills to recharge.
I made them shut their eyes and go within. I made them experiment that by looking inside with eyes closed in the wee hours of the day, they could generate energy to go that extra mile to achieve selfreliance.
I explained to them how I learnt this art and how without that I would not have been able to serve long hours in all my demanding assignments. The students practised meditation for 10 minutes and learnt to tap the inner energy.
I won’t forget this experience. Nor should those daughters forget the ABCD, the ‘Three Ws’ and the ‘Three Ms’.