The importance of sub-division work experience in civil service

The importance of sub-division work experience in civil service

As a senior Professor of English my father Dr LS R Krishna Sastry showed extraordinary confidence in my abilities to take Combined Civil services...

As a senior Professor of English my father Dr LS R Krishna Sastry showed extraordinary confidence in my abilities to take Combined Civil services exam. He never ever reviewed my academic progress and only once did he show me signs of dissappointment at my average academic performance. For that reason only he gave me option to go to Sri Sathya Sai Arts, Science and Commerce College at Whitefield in Karnataka. Stay and discipline in that college changed my track and I moved to path of high performance.

Again when I was taking viva- voce exam he came to my Poorvanchal hostel in JNU campus. He quickly taught all those nuances of language and style that I must adopt in my conversation in UPSC interview. I had a memorable day with my father and he was there to answer all my doubts. He was actually travelling to Canada on an academic pursuit. This single session with my father boosted my confidence besides the double century that I scored in the interview.

After foundational course and phase 1 training at LBS Academy Mussoorie, I reported for my district training at Nalgonda by July 1984. My name appeared for first time in the 1984 civil list of AP state. My name stood at serial number 294 and was elated to see the name of Sri C R Krishna Swami Rao Sahib at the top who belonged to 1949 batch of I.A.S and was posted as Cabinet Secretary in Union government. It is amusing that he carried a pay of Rs 3500 being the top man in Civil Service! After my phase 2 I was posted to Parkal sub-division in Warangal district with a basic pay of Rs 740.

On the day I was reporting to Collector Warangal, an incident involving naxalites happened. My collector wanted me to go to Eturnagaram hospital and meet the policemen who were injured in the attack. That was my maiden task and I had the company of my batch mate to take the arduous travel of over 110 kms in a jeep. Both of us dozed off in turns!

Sub-division work is really the testing ground to try our revenue and development skills. For Andhra Pradesh state we had 27 earmarked sub-divisions for IAS officers in those 22 districts. Many of these sub-divisions were away from district headquarters and as such the Sub-Collector had to provide required leadership. The revenue subjects what we learnt so far would come up for practical application. Sub-Collector would have to pass orders and they could be challenged in a court of law.

In law and order matters also Sub collectors had to take the lead. Especially in districts where there was Naxalite presence, this interaction with Police establishment became very touchy. Though all- weather roads were there to all the mandal head quarters, there were fewer patches of black-topped roads. The government led by N T Rama Rao brought about significant changes in development and regulatory administration.

NTR had a soft corner for the Scheduled Tribes and therefore there were more schemes to implement as Sub collector. Significant work was done in fixing boundaries of Forest and Revenue lands that resulted in providing agricultural land to poor tribals. This meant regular travel to tribal areas in the district.

I held additional charge of ITDA Eturnagaram for some time. There was similarly lot of work of rehabilitating freed bonded labour in Chityal, Regonda and Ghanpur mandals. Holding detailed discussions with each released family was education by itself. Then getting houses constructed under national rural landless employment guarantee programme was a challenge of sorts.

The requirement to make adequate number of night halts helped me to get familiar with these areas. In these wanderings on the day I completed my first year in the subdivision, I spotted a leopard close to my jeep near Pasra in the forest area. My driver Sadiq and attender Yakub were terrified and did not appreciate my celebrating sighting of that animal. Sammakka - Saralamma Jatara was a memorable event in 1986. Sub collector was designated as ‘Festival officer’ for the first time as was made known. Unbelievable numbers of pilgrims in lakhs especially tribals visit Medaram in Tadvai mandal. For first time the engineering departments undertook permanent culvert works to have smooth travel in forest area. Even lot of works were undertaken in that religious site to bring que system and hundi was placed for first time.

All the three days senior officers like Collector, Superintendent of Police , DM & HO, S.E.(P.R.), DVM(RTC) were all camping or focussing on the Jatara. That year the offerings in the hundi were carefully counted and the tribals were very happy with the arrangements. Priests belonging to Kanneboina family were keen to take me to the ‘gaddi’ as part of the ritual. In few square kms lakhs of pilgrims with thousands of bullock-carts created a terrific scene.

How can I forget the historic visit of the Chief Minister to all the eight ITDAs starting from Utnoor in Adilabad. For first time N T Rama Rao made night halt in a tribal habitat on all days of tour. There was a combined meeting of CM after this tribal visit with all Ministers and senior officers led by Chief Secretary in Jubilee Hall. Perhaps most of the important decisions impinging on well being of tribals of the state were all taken here.

S R Sankaran as Principal Secretary and MVPC Sastry as Director Tribal Welfare introduced the agenda and enabled historical decisions from the government. With the added thrust coming to tribal Welfare in the state , headquarters of my sub-division was shifted to Mulug from Parkal.

In a career of a civil servant spanning over three decades, the experience of sub-division becomes his/her foundation. As the seniors always mentioned there are always more sub-ordinates compared to superiors in any assignment of a civil servant. So networking with all staff and learning the skills required to win their confidence commence from here. Another important aspect is the conduct of civil servants comes to the open with his stay in sub division. From there it is the word of mouth that travels about the officer. The values that the officer practises and his/ her character gets analysed and propagated.

In this context, it is shocking that till recently the state government in Telangana did not want to give this sub-division experience to its Civil Servants. From 2014 for a decade this pernicious practise of denying sub-division charge was there. So at least 70 to 80 civil servants will be risking their fortunes when they hold district charge without foundation experience. Such a costly compromise on career planning of elite civil service happened. Luckily, the incumbent dispensation in Telangana has earmarked 15 subdivisions in the state for young civil servants.

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