The recent arrest of a ‘crorepati’ grade three employee of Odisha Staff Selection Commission (OSSC) by vigilance sleuths, who continue to burrow deeper into the case, shows the Naveen Patnaik government’s commitment to wiping out corruption from the state. The government’s policy of zero tolerance for corruption has received a boost with the Chief Minister’s private secretary, VK Pandian, also getting additional charge as Secretary to the CM’s Transformation and Initiatives (5Ts) that focuses most on transparency. With the 2000-batch IAS officer determined to ensure the implementation of the 5T formula of governance, the fight against corruption is now a big mission.
The government has been particularly severe in dealing with cases of corruption in the Chief Minister’s fifth innings, with 5T becoming the “mantra” for good governance. Vigilance raids have been taking place to unearth unaccounted wealth from corrupt officials some of whom have also been given compulsory retirement. Even politicians and top-ranking officers have not been spared.
Some time ago, an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer was arrested in connection with a disproportionate assets case following a series of raids by the state vigilance department. The officer had strong political connections, but nothing could save him. With Pandian ensuring faithful and vigorous implementation of the 5T formula, the people of Odisha have realized that the government is more serious than ever about fighting corruption and that there will be no discrimination in acting against the corrupt. They are convinced that the 5T secretary is committed to making the administration clean and transparent.
The 5T formula is also about transformative governance. An excellent example of this is the government’s Mo Sarkar initiative aimed at bringing the administration closer to people and enhancing efficiency. The Tamil Nadu-born bureaucrat has been personally monitoring the implementation of the programme that began with a bang with the Chief Minister taking feedback from people on the quality of governance.
The first department to be brought under the ambit of the programme was the home department, with focus on enhancing the image of the police. The Chief Minister, ably assisted by his private secretary, started taking feedback from people on their experience during visits to police stations in connection with lodging complaints or related work. The impact was immediate, with the men and women in khaki becoming friendlier in their behaviour towards the common citizens.
The government then turned its attention to the health department with the 5T secretary – accompanied by other senior officers – visiting hospitals and health centres in different areas of the state to check the quality of service and to upgrade infrastructure where necessary. This was happening in Odisha for the first time and the quality of health service, too, improved immediately while the infrastructure at several hospitals and health centres was upgraded to the satisfaction of people. Today Pandian is not only seen as the Chief Minister’s right-hand man but also as an officer who can bring about positive change in the lives of people with sheer hard work and determination.