It was almost three weeks ago that an Indian Administrative Service officer received a letter from the Chief Minister’s Office/General Administration Department detailing the organisation of a chintan shivir in Kaziranga by bringing ministers and senior officers on a single platform to chart out a vision for 2026. It is the year when the present dispensation in Dispur completes five years of its service to the people of Assam. The underlying message of the note was that strategy and steps may be detailed out by all departments to achieve this vision. There was also an admission in the circular that there were procedural and other roadblocks which needed a planned approach to overcome them.
“I was happy at the opportunity presented before us. We formed teams after a week-and-a-half of receiving the circular. We tried to coordinate with each other to see the progress in our individual departments over the last five years. We benchmarked ourselves on certain key performance indicators to know where we stand compared to the last five years against top five States in the country and all India average, and where we want to get by 2026,” he told Asom Barta on the excitement that the preparation of the shivir had created in various departments.
Spread over three days from September 24 to 26, the shivir was curated in a way that allowed spirituality, bonhomie, brainstorming to converge. There were spiritual gurus like Jaggi Vasudev (also known as Sadguru), Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to becalm the tumult going through the hearts and minds of these officers public representatives, including the ministers as well as the Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma himself. No wonder, most ministers in the Cabinet were all praises for the idea.
If spirituality was a part of it, there were serious businesses being conducted as well. Top bureaucrats from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and technocrats from the PMO, including Bibek Debroy, the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Chairman had sessions for officers and policy makers, sharing best practices to aid Assam in becoming what the State Chief Minister has set out to: Making Assam among the top five States within the country. These seasons received rave reviews from bureaucrats who shared their experiences with this newsletter.
“The Shivir was a good experience to spend time together with other officers, and ministers, and reflect on issues which require collective and inter-departmental effort and coordination,” another senior bureaucrat told Asom Barta. He said that there were clear goal setting and priorities of the Government were laid out. “The resources required, constraints, etc., were also discussed thereby making the exercise an action plan of sorts than merely making it an academic one,” he added.
An officer also suggested that the schedule was too tight for a gathering like this and could be revisited with family components added to it, besides informal meetings with ministers as well as the Chief Minister, whom they get very little time to meet and know.