The Odisha government is organising celebrations today to mark the Panchayati Raj Day, the birth anniversary of former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik. The event is also marking the completion of 20 years of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government under Naveen Patnaik in Odisha. The focus is on the big-ticket announcements of empowering rural bodies and flagship schemes like Mo Sarkar.
As Mr Patnaik completes 20 years in power, the focus is now on transparency and empowerment of the most backward sections of society with big-ticket policy initiatives, his government has said. Having taken charge of a state lagging behind in most departments, Mr Patnaik wants to set an example of governance.
The Odisha government is putting its weight behind two initiatives - Mo Sarkar and the Five Ts principle. Five Ts stand for the parameters - team work, technology, transparency, transformation and time limit.
"I am sure all the departments have made adequate preparedness with the appropriate training of officials and proper feedback mechanism. Our constitution starts with We The People. We are obligated to fulfil certain responsibilities given to us by the people. Let all of us be very clear about this," Mr Patnaik said.
A total of 27 departments are now under the ambit of the "Mo Sarkar" initiative of the Odisha government. The programme will seek feedback from citizens who visit government offices for services by directly calling them. The calls will go from the Chief Minister and other officials and ministers as well.
"Such an experiment has not been done anywhere in the country as far as I know. When they come, their names and numbers will be captured and there will be a whole lot of information technology behind. There is a portal and a dashboard and the Chief Minister and ministers get that dashboard on their own computers and we are expected to call minimum 60 people every week and take feedback," Odisha Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy told NDTV.
But Odisha expects what's perhaps going to be an even more transformational is the decision to empower panchayati raj institutions by transferring assets of four government departments to panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads.
"We are not only transferring the assets to the panchayati raj institutions. As I mentioned we have given a lot of money to them to maintain these, run these, build upon these and this is truly transformative," Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy added.
When asked about the initiatives, Mr Patnaik told NDTV, "There's a long way to go. I am grateful to the people of Odisha for having elected us to office for the last 20 years and we've achieved a great deal in these 20 years. But there's still a long way to go for Odisha to be totally empowered."