Stories of Change 1: Where are the files?

Capacity building can be defined as the process of equipping public officials, stakeholders, communities to continuously develop and strengthen their skills and knowledge for effective and efficient public service delivery.

Over the years, there have been some transformational interventions in the capacity-building ecosystem in India that have improved the state of public service delivery and enhanced the quality of citizen-centric governance. Capacity building, be it individual, organisational or institutional, implies a paradigm shift in the state’s approach towards the training of public officials, strengthening public institutions, and adopting modern technology, among other innovative solutions.

This five-part blog series titled ‘Stories of Change’ delves into some of the successful interventions by public officials that were instrumental in improving the working capacity of officials, which are seldom celebrated.

Let us take a look at the first Story of Change, an initiative which became an exemplary model for the entire state machinery.

In 1982, an IAS officer, appalled at the working conditions of a Collectorate office in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, sought to revamp the office in an attempt to deliver services efficiently and improve the citizens’ experience of dealing with clerical staff. To bring about this change, IAS officer Anil Lakhina took a slew of measures, which became a shining example for all. 

First things first, Lakhina worked on improving the deplorable state of the records room. A mammoth reorganisation and cleanliness drive was carried out, which entailed weeding out files weighing around 100 tonnes and relocating as many as 3 lakh files, rearranging cupboards, almirahs and tables. Nine months later, the records room was transformed from a space that no one wanted to enter into a beacon of astute order and cleanliness which proved to be a watershed moment in improving the working conditions of the office and helping to establish an effective citizen dealing system. The effectiveness of the drive could be measured from the audit of the records room, which fetched 10 truckloads of redundant files, the sale of which added Rs 26000 to the state treasury.

To regulate the official-citizen dealing experience, other organisational capacity-building interventions were spearheaded such as the introduction of a counter and token system, the rewriting of office procedures in the local language for better communication, and the development of leaflets, desk manuals to streamline everyday life at a public office.

Within months, the initiative, which later came to be known as the ‘Lakhina model’, was replicated by other districts of Maharashtra. The effectiveness of the intervention could be measured by the impact it had on other Indian states, as the model was adopted by states such as Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and Tripura, among others.

Building the working capacities of the organisation paves way for enhanced quality of public administration, drives focus towards citizen-centric governance and improves the quality of public service delivery. C-LOP’s Stories of Change aims to dive deep into these exemplary practices illustrating successful interventions leading to enhanced capacities of public officials. 

(This is part 1 of a five-part series illuminating best practices in the capacity-building ecosystem. More to follow.)

Sources of Reference:

  1. First Stirrings: Bringing a paradigm shift
  2. Reforms in the Collectorate of Ahmednagar- A report

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