Naveen's 5T charter worth emulating

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Naveen Patnaik, KCR
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YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Naveen Patnaik, KCR

Highlights

Patnaik himself makes several phone calls to know the public pulse

People of the two Telugu-speaking States are experiencing two different kinds of Chief Ministers. Though the duo is common in launching a plethora of money transfer schemes, and depending heavily on borrowings to run the show, they provide two different models when it comes to be in touch with citizens and dealing with the Union government.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2019 set up an institution (village secretariats) to act as a bridge between the government and people by rendering services at their doorsteps. Political accusations against such a mechanism notwithstanding, it turned out to be a vehicle for his mass contact programme. We don't find such an institutionalised robust system in Telangana but the seasoned administrator KCR has his own ways to know the public pulse.

There is a stark contrast between the two CMs in dealing with the Union government under Narendra Modi. While YS Jagan maintains very cordial relations with Modi despite provocative statements from the BJP's Andhra Pradesh unit, the Telangana CM has locked horns with Modi. In contrast to his AP counterpart, who politely pleads with the Centre to help him develop his State, KCR is mincing no words to 'expose' the Modi government's 'deliberate attempts' to trouble his State.

Dissimilar to these two types of CMs, the neighbouring Odisha CM, Naveen Patnaik, is delivering 'feedback-based' governance while maintaining 'amiable relationship' with PM, but considering the BJP as the main rival in the State. A writer and author of three books, Naveen Patnaik, one of the longest-serving CMs of any Indian State, holding the position for over two decades and only the third CM after Pawan Kumar Chamling of Sikkim and Jyoti Basu of West Bengal, has become a role model CM in India. Unlike our CMs, Naveen leads a spartan lifestyle and he is known for zero tolerance to corruption and no-nonsense attitude in dealing with the Centre. The 'state first' policy is yielding good results for Odisha. I wish to discuss about a specific mass contact programme, popularized as '5Ts', launched by the Odisha government to serve people better effectively.

Transparency and accountability being the core of his operations, Naveen Patnaik, in his fifth term, has improvised his previous '3T' (Teamwork, Transparency and Technology) to make it '5T' by adding two more Ts (Timeline leading to Transformation) in order to make his governance people-friendly and citizen-centric. Thanks to the special focuson the 5T approach, Odisha ranked first in two categories – human resource development, and economic governance in the category of group B States in the Good Governance Index 2021 brought out by the Centre. Corruption in public institutions is also claimed to be under control.

Citizen feedback is key

Naveen Patnaik had launched a programme, christened 'Mo Sarkar' (My Government), on October 2 (Mahatma Gandhi anniversary) in 2019 to take administration to the doorsteps of the people. The aim of the initiative is to gather feedback from people visiting government offices, hospitals and police stations and take follow-up action based on their inputs. Naveen Patnaik made it mandatory for every cabinet member, including him, the chief secretary, secretaries and senior officers of various departments to contact people by phone to get their feedback on the services delivered to them.

The phone numbers of the people who make a visit to government offices are collected randomly for this purpose. Naveen Patnaik himself makes several phone calls to know the public pulse. His government claims that every call is followed up with a concrete action to fix the grievances in a time-bound manner. The legal framework of Odisha Right to Public Services Act enables public to demand services as a right.

As a continuation to the 'Mo Sarkar,' the 5T charter is developed with an impactful action plan. It is aimed at finding out how far the administration has been able to reach people in a transparent and timely manner and it is given topmost priority by all the departments. To monitor the charter and also to ensure adherence to it, a separate department has been created under the leadership of an IAS, who is the private secretary to CM.

Let's see how the 5Ts initiative impacted education, one of the most key sectors. As many as 3,981 schools have seen transformation in two phases under the initiative recently. On the sixth and final day of the Phase-2 of the school transformation programme, 416 high schools in five districts were dedicated by the Odisha CM.An arts aficionado and sports lover, Naveen called upon students to excel in academics as well as extra-curricular activities such as arts, sports, leadership and social service.

As part of the programme, special efforts were made to improve learning environment, standard of teaching and usher holistic development of the school through active collaboration of parents, alumni and local community. Steps were taken for academic enrichment while improvising facilities in schools to transform schools in a big way. The academic enrichment includes, Head Teachers' Leadership Development Programme; Regular professional development programmes for teachers, especially in English, Science and Mathematics subjects both in physical and online mode; Professional learning fora for Teachers Board Excellence Programme including mentoring & special Coaching for 9th & 10th grade students, and student Excellence Programme for selected students.

Some of the infrastructure-related outcomes include: smart classrooms for Class IX and X students, enhanced classroom interiors, sitting arrangements for students; Laboratory-cum-interactive science centre for secondary grades; well-equipped e-library; adequate drinking water provisions and sanitation facilities; games and sports facilities, according to the reference handbook prepared by the government.

Each school has a 5T High School Transformation Committee comprising local elected representative, headmaster, Mo School Alumni representative, School Management Committee President, senior-most teacher, two student representatives from student cabinet and BDO/ BEO as special invitees. This committee develops the work plan for the school with focus on the above-mentioned key components.The Odisha government has set target of transforming 4800 more schools by December 2023. Another key sector, health, is also in for a tremendous transformation. While appointing 203 Assistant Professors in the Odisha Medical Education Servicelast week, Naveen Patnaik asked them to adhere to the 5T initiative to bring smiles on patients and their close family members.

Teamwork and Time

In fact, the five themes in the 5T are not new for any government. The essential elements of the governance arepacked in the theme to reach out people effectively. The purpose is served as the 5T has become mantra of every department. Out of the five, two themes (Teamwork and Time) should be borrowed by our CMs from the Odisha's book on an urgent basis. 'One man show' in governance would lead to absolute anarchy. Ministers and civil servants should be given a freehand to deliver goods to ameliorate citizens' lives. Looking for the instructions of the CM for every single issue does more harm than good. And, deadlines (Time) are very important for any work. Our leaders give off-the-cuff assurances to achieve the short-term political gains but conveniently forget them after the purpose is served.

The one-time CM Jagan and the two-time CM KCR shouldn't hesitate to draw lessons from the five-time CM Naveen Patnaik to get elected for one more time.

(The author, a PhD in Communication and Journalism, is a senior journalist, journalism educator, and communication consultant)

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