With bureaucrats becoming the face of the government’s fight against Coronavirus, Mugdha Sinha, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, Government of Rajasthan, tells us how common people are warming up to the digital initiatives in the present situation with e-governance playing a pivotal role, along with the frontline workers who are sacrificing a lot in their efforts to serve the masses better
E-governance and its potential:
The advent of digitisation has paved the way for e-governance to become a top priority. Given the pandemic, the situation has turned very grim and uncertain but we definitely cannot sidetrack the huge opportunities in terms of digital technology that lie before us with things becoming more streamlined. With apps like the Aarogya Setu, specifically formulated to help people during the Corona crisis, it is great to see commoners adapting and getting used to digital technology and putting it to good use.
India has over 1.4 billion population and 90,000 of them cannot even gather their necessities and manage food for survival. As an Officer-in-Charge of the migrants in Rajasthan, it is overwhelming to see that people from different strata of society are connecting with several senior officers through phones and putting the Internet to its best possible use.
During this pandemic, we have been able to establish good connectivity and network among everyone where it is easier for them to reach out to us and for senior officers and bureaucrats to connect with people and identify their problems in a better way than it used to be earlier. Frankly, there lies a huge platform for everyone to connect through e-governance.
All healthcare workers, bureaucrats and others working as frontline Covid warriors, have come forward to help. In all this, technology has had a massive role to play, more so in establishing better connectivity among people, irrespective of the fact that a large chunk of the population does not have exposure to proper education.
It is known how during the global liberalisation, there was a huge change as many sectors went digital. The banking sector was the first one to get computers that naturally led to a reduction in manpower but made the task easier. Technology acts as a facilitator because it can pave the way for easier and more effective communication leading to adaptation of a simplified decision-making process.
Earlier, people had less chance to enter the Secretariat and discuss their issues but now, at the click of a mouse, they can address their problems. Discussions and deliberations along with greater access to services, availability of choices and delivery have improved with enhanced technology. But with huge opportunities come big responsibilities. The cybercrime team must work more efficiently since the digital workflow invites unwanted issues and threats.
India and its challenges:
Due to Covid lockdown, we have been restricted in our houses with limited activity options. The Internet has proved to be a game-changer and not just on a micro-level but at a macro level too. In these few months, certain changes have been witnessed where civil society has heaped praises on the frontline Covid warriors for their relentless efforts. But it must also be remembered that any kind of discrimination can ruin the social balance and stability.
India is a vast country with people coming from several castes and creeds, and the Constitution of India guarantees Right to Equality for everyone. Society needs to come up with a civil code of behaviour in which people will have a balanced outlook and an objective approach. This will not only help in the bureaucratic process but will also assist to develop a better society.
Process of transfers:
There is an odd perception about transfers that they act as roadblocks in an officer’s journey. But it is not entirely true because transfers are a part of the job. Civil service is not a tenured service like any other secured post and it requires working with all the levels of political associates in close connection.
One should not think about the position and place but hang on to the work they are capable of delivering. The government takes a call keeping in mind the long-term picture and it is not a bad decision. Many things may not happen as planned or according to our choice but it is important to perform and go with the flow. Sometimes, it is very important to get out of one’s comfort zone to understand the limits and take up a new challenge.
The role of bureaucrats during critical situations:
It is a challenging position and a difficult time for all civil workers but a lot of appreciation is pouring in for the frontline workers, even from the media.
This is a critical time and now, we should all come together to deliver quality services rather than being judgmental. The civil workers are doing their best to bring about policy changes to cater to the needs and requirements of the people. However, it is pertinent to keep in mind that there should not be any discrimination in providing treatment or any kind of help to those who need them.
David Augustus in his book
mentions people who have experiences from different sectors and industries are way ahead than technology and those who have experience in one particular field. This very aptly justifies the work of civil workers who are fighting at the frontline, facing several challenges and difficulties on their shoulders. Just like everyone else, the main focus is to save lives because every life matters and now, everyone’s contribution is precious and significant in its own way.
The present scenario has created a tense situation amongst one and all. In Rajasthan, even before the lockdown, two committees had been formed. One was led by the Advisor to the Chief Minister consisting people from different sectors, including trade and commerce, industries, health, education etc. with its main focus being on developing a holistic approach in such a critical time. The primary goal is to save lives and livelihood. For that, we have allowed free ration for the poor who are unable to fetch food for themselves. For the aged who are unable to cook, we have arranged community kitchens to provide them with sufficient meals. Apart from the hotspots, we have 33 districts and some other Corona-free areas where we have opened a number of essential shops but under strict protocols. Trade tourism industry, hotels and similar industries are having staggered growth but we will ensure that things move at a normal pace. We have several e-platforms through which artisans and craftsmen can carry on their work without any hindrance to their livelihood. The government has made a lot of permutations and combinations to figure out a calibrated method towards all the sectors which includes animal husbandry, tourism, education, health and industries. This is a belief that with so many efforts going on everywhere for a better tomorrow, society will definitely emerge stronger.