Social engineering to rejuvenate government officers

 In a bid to free officers from the shackles of bureaucratic thinking, the Union Government has tied up with 12 social entrepreneurs, including two from Bangalore, to provide them exposure on “outstanding initiatives” happening in social sector.

The scheme was finalised by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances recently, after it was observed that officers coming to the central and state institutes for induction and mid-service training are not adequately exposed to initiatives in social sector outside the government.

The Department had two meetings with social entrepreneurs in September and November this year and 12 of them, including Anand Kumar of Patna’s Super 30 fame, Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh International, and Ajitha Shah of Frontier Markets, Rajasthan have expressed their willingness to play the part of trainers.

Others in the list are Neelam Chibber (Indus Tree Crafts Foundation, Bangalore), Ashwin Naik (Vaatsalya Healthcare, Bangalore), Vanita Viswanath (Udyogini, Delhi), Arbind Singh (Nidan, Patna), Joseph Madiath (Gram Vikas, Odisha), Anoop Kaul (BASIX, Delhi), Rajendra Joshi (Saath, Gujarat), Sumita Ghose (Rangsutra Crafts India India, Delhi) and Anshu Gupta of 'Goonj', Chibber, the co-founder of Indus Tree that helps low-income artisans to become owners and entrepreneurs in grassroots community enterprises, said it is critical to have an engagement between non-profit, private and government sectors. “I can understand that even well-meaning officers can get bogged down by the system and they can sometimes watch how outsiders work," she told Deccan Herald.

Pathak of Sulabh International, who works to remove discrimination against scavengers, said that such interactions would help bureaucracy open up and bring in a different perspective in governance. “The officers are brilliant people. They have reached these positions through hard work but we can provide them a different perspective,” he said.
A senior government official said the officers would benefit immensely from exposure to social initiatives as they get fresh insight into the challenges faced by disadvantaged sections and how these challenges can be addressed with innovative use of available human, financial and technological resources.

“It was decided to have consultation with social entrepreneurs who have successfully ventured into creating social capital in the country, to put in place an institutional mechanism for involving them in the training programme for government officers,” he said.
The department believes that creating “right kind of motivation” in government servants and exposing them to good initiatives is of critical importance for improving the quality of governance.

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