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Uttar Pradesh chief secretary, 1983 batch IAS, Mr. Rahul Bhatnagar is holding top bureaucratic post of largest populated state of India i.e. Uttar Pradesh. He has post-graduation degrees in two subjects— physics and economics. The 57-year-old officer knows German language, apart from Hindi and English, according to DoPT records.
Mr. Bhatnagar in a candid chat with NorthblockSouthBlock.Com EDITOR, Durgesh Upadhyay talked at length on the many subjects like his carreer, hobbies and the key focus of Akhilesh Yadav’s government. Here are the excerpts..
Durgesh Upadhyay- Currently you are working as the Chief Secretary of the largest populated state, please share your experience and how tough/easy is this job for you?
UP Chief Secretary- As you know this is a state with a population of almost 22 Crores and if counted among the countries it will probably be the sixth or seventh largest country in the world, so u can understand that with this huge population there are so many different issues related to development regulation law & Order and others which are very important for the public, so we really have to do a lot, plan implement and effectively deliver schemes and projects that directly benefit the this large Population.
Durgesh Upadhyay- Being post graduate in Economics and Physics, what prompted you to be an IAS officer?
UP Chief Secretary-At that time when we were in college and we were thinking of a career for ourselves, the environment was such that everybody felt, this job was one of the most challenging and creative jobs which was available in the country and once we get into this we get a lot of opportunities to work for the people and to be able to use our initiatives and drive to be able to change the lives of our people for the better.
Durgesh Upadhyay- Now, its been almost 30 years and you have held so many key responsibilities in administrative posts, Which post have you enjoyed the most?
UP Chief Secretary- Actually, In this Service all the posts are very important because every sector has lot of challenges and if we are able to deliver as per the expectations of the people it gives a lot of satisfaction whichever sector it may be But I would still say being District Magistrate in the Districts is a very unique kind of a job anywhere in the world. It gives you lot of scope to work independent and use your initiative to bring about perception change in the way government machinery addresses the problems and expectation of the people. simultaneously you have the power to bring about this change.
Durgesh Upadhyay- Being in this service since 30 years, Today you are holding the top most position of the largest populated state of India, Do you see any difference in the functionality from then and now?
UP Chief Secretary- I feel that the Complexity of the work and challenges have increased because the expectation of the people have increased compared with the expectation of the people then, There is lot of expectation, peoples expectation have grown a lot, earlier they may have desired hand pumps to be installed in the village, now the people want village, to be wi-fi, village should have much better communications etc. The challenges have increased, this is a natural and positive trend Development should measured by this. If the requirement of the people 30 years ago was the same as it so now then I would say hardly any development has been taken place, but if the expectations have changed and increased, several times then that means development has taken place and the earlier expectations have been fulfilled and they now demand something new and, more complex. This is the reason that work culture now should be constantly oriented towards the expectations of the public.
UP Chief Secretary- These days you can understand there is hardly any free time, but whenever i get the time I read books, play tennis and listen to music.
Durgesh Upadhyay- What Kind of books you like to read and what kind of music you like sir?
UP Chief Secretary- I read fiction as well as biographies.
Durgesh Upadhyay- From 2006-2012 you were Joint Secretary in the Union Government under sports ministry that was the time when you spent most at one key position, what was the experience in the sports ministry?
UP Chief Secretary- That was very interesting because that was the time when Commonwealth games were being held and I was responsible for the preparation of the players for common wealth Games. It was a very challenging job because we set ourselves a target that we should win 96-110 medals. So we planned the mission very meticulously and we gave the selected players the best of training ,the best of diet and best of other facilities including foreign exposure. As a result we were able to achieve the target with 101 medals. It was a matter of great satisfaction. We were second in the medals tally after Australia and that was a matter of great pride.
Durgesh Upadhyay- Presently you are working as a Chief Secretary of Uttar Prdesh, What are your key focus areas in which you have focused because tenure of this government is almost finished. So what are the key focus rightnow?
UP Chief Secretary- The key focus of this government is infrastructure. We have concentrated lot on infrastructure we have tried to mobilize maximum resources weather they are budgetary resources or extra budgetary resources so that the government can bring in major projects of infrastructure that is roads, major irrigation project, which had been stalled for several years we have revived them and tried to bring them to completion, Then in power sector major work has been done so that today we are in a position to give 24 hours electricity to the urban areas and 18 hour electricity to rural areas. To achieve this we have strengthened entire system of generation, transmission and distribution. We have also done a lot of work in social sector, and for social security some major schemes have been started. In fact a scheme of pension for women has been commenced and 55 lakhs women benefited under this scheme with Rs 500 per month ever year. Overall more than 1 crore people are benefited by some social security scheme or the other in the nature of pensions like an old age pension, widow pension, disabled persons pension etc. So you can say with an average 5 people in a family, 5 crore people out of population of 22 crores are benefited directly by social security schemes. We have also started a major accident insurance scheme which will covers, all the farmers plus all the people whose income is less than 75000 per year i.e. more than 3 crore people. We have tried to reach almost each and every person in the rural areas. We are also building up the institutions of excellence. We are in the process of starting a cancer hospital in Lucknow which will be the state of the art in cancer treatment and research. Our major medical institution like SGPGI, KGMU, Ram Manohar Lohiya Institute are developing into institutes of excellence.
Durgesh Upadhyay- Sir, What is the biggest strength and weakness of you?
UP Chief Secretary- We often experience that if we want to do things quickly we find that rules come in the way. But we are also bound not to break any rules. For administrators the important thing is that we have to get the work done. So We have to find the way to achieve our objectives, get the work done while remaining within the framework of rules. I would consider a person a good administrator, a good civil servant if he is able to get things done and at same time be within the framework of laws and rules.
Durgesh Upadhyay- One more question I am compelled to ask you sir, these days theres a major conflict within the ruling party and you are holding a key post. So how difficult or easy it for you to maintain the pace with performing duties and to balance with the government?
UP Chief Secretary- I don’t think I have any difficulty as far as that is concerned because the spheres of both are different. It does not imping anyway on the working of the govt. Working of the govt is very smooth there are no difficulties at all caused in the working of the government because of what is happening politically.