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This New Initiative by Team Naveen Patnaik Fills Odisha Citizens with Hope of Improved Governance

Under the ‘Mo Sarkar’, the CM, DGP, chief secretary and other top officials talk to citizens for their feedback on visits to hospitals, police stations and government offices.

Anand ST Das | News18

Updated:October 14, 2019, 9:09 PM IST
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This New Initiative by Team Naveen Patnaik Fills Odisha Citizens with Hope of Improved Governance
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik's Private Secretary VK Pandian and other officials pay a visit to Rayagada hospital.

Bhubaneswar: Many people in Odisha have only heard of VK Pandian, aware that he is Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s private secretary and one of his most trusted bureaucrats who has a say in policy-making and implementation.

While most ordinary people had never seen Pandian before, they are now getting to interact with him and even telling him about the deficiencies they face in the delivery of public services.

Accompanied by some other top bureaucrats, Pandian has been making whirlwind tours of the state for the past six days, making surprise visits to hospitals, government offices and the subsidised Rs 5 lunch service at Aahar centres in remote districts.

The 45-year-old IAS officer, who has been the CM’s private secretary since 2011 and was additionally made the secretary to “CM Transformation and Initiatives (5T)” last month, has been diligently taking feedback from ordinary people about the delivery of public services.

When Patnaik, 72, took over as the chief minister of Odisha for a record fifth term in a row in May, he knew the people’s expectations from this term, apparently his last, are much higher than earlier. So he set in motion the ambitious ‘Mo Sarkar’ initiative on Gandhi Jayanti as part of his pro-people ‘5T action plan’.

The ‘5Ts’ — short for ‘teamwork, technology, transparency, transformation and time limit’ — are the governance mantra Patnaik has given to his Cabinet colleagues and senior officials days after assuming the top office for the fifth time.

Under ‘Mo Sarkar’, arguably the first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, the chief minister, DGP, chief secretary and other top officials make phone calls to citizens for their feedback on visits to hospitals, police stations and government offices.

They are being asked about the behaviour and professionalism of government officials who dealt with them. The officials would be ranked as per the people’s feedback. The CM himself has spoken to 120 people over the phone in the past 10 days.

Scenes of Pandian, a 2000-batch IAS officer known for keeping a low profile while reportedly having the CM’s ears and eyes for years, and his team having lunch with villagers at an Aahar centre in Boudh district and then with inmates of an orphanage in Keonjhar district have brought whiffs of fresh air into people’s perception of Odisha’s governance mechanism.

Schedules of these random, surprise visits to the far-off districts have been kept so secret that even officials of the local administration have no prior information about them.

When Pandian, Chief Advisor at the CM’s Office R Balakrishnan and National Health Mission (NHM) Director Shalini Pandit showed up at the district headquarters hospital in Rayagada on Thursday, even journalists there had no clue about the event. The hospital authorities were still busy carrying out last-minute cleaning operations of the premises.

During such a surprise visit to Sundargarh district headquarters hospital on Sunday, the team was told by some patients that the hospital authorities were asking them to get various pathological tests done at private labs even though the facilities are available at the hospital.

This resulted in the suspension of the Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) in-charge, Dr Pankaj Patel, the first such action under the ‘Mo Sarkar’ initiative. A show-cause notice was also issued to District Magistrate Nikhil Pawan Kalyan for alleged lapses in implementing the ‘Mo Sarkar’ initiative in the district.

Even though the doctors’ association protested the CDMO’s suspension and the Opposition BJP held a six-hour bandh in Sundargarh on Monday, the initiative has filled the people of Odisha with hope that delivery of public services would become more efficient and transparent.

With Patnaik very keen on the ‘Mo Sarkar’ initiative’s success, a team of top bureaucrats like Pandian, Balakrishnan and Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy is reportedly engaged in framing guidelines to fulfil the CM’s wish.

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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