Thursday, November 30, 2023

Monday Mirchi: Social media has an edge

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Social media has an edge when it comes to communication from the Police Department. In Telangana, the Director-General of Police boarded a chopper for an aerial survey of the Ganesh procession. He himself filmed portions of it and said: “Send it (the video clip) to the press”. Hyderabad CP C V Anand accompanied him. But his team created a reel and included it in the immersion overview. The buzz is that both are quite active on social media platforms, especially X (formerly Twitter). Anand is going out of the way in posting and his posts are reaching lakhs. In general, some IPS officers are known to be media friendly, but now the big wigs have become distinctly social media friendly.

Dancing cops show jhalak of friendly policing
Cops are known to approach crowds in a menacing manner with their lathis, regardless of whether the people in the crowd are resting or restive. However, during the Ganesh Immersion procession in Hyderabad dancing cops stepped into people’s hearts. In Hyderabad’s Central Zone, DCP M Venkateshwarlu, Saifabad ACP Sanjay Kumar, and Khairatabad Inspector Bala Gopal led the jigs. Not to be outdone, Warangal CP AV Ranganath did his part, bagging the ‘coolest dancer’ tag among CPs in the state while maintaining law and order. But his jhalak on foot was marred briefly as followers of the Majilis party as well as the BJP created a tense atmosphere near MP Bandi Sanjay’s home.

Lessons from and for teachers
Praveen Prakash, principal secretary to the AP government’s School Education Department, must be delighted with the responses he has been getting for his YouTube videos. He has been running a series titled ‘From the Desk of Principal Secretary’, aired initially in English and of late in Telugu. In his latest episode, he shared that every week he visits a district as party of ‘reality check’ concerning his work. The officer shared that he was ‘humbled’ by the comments of the teachers’ responses. A wag, talking of reality, commented: “While many of the comments seemed very genuine positive feedback, there were also some that appeared as if they were contrived.”

Jains cross ‘Lakshmi rekha’
Bureaucrats rarely highlight the traits of people belonging to their respective community. Rajarshri Shah, District Collector of Medak, however, spoke glowingly about the Jain community to which she belongs. Traditionally a business community, Jains are known for their business acumen. They say it runs in their genes. Rajarshri Shah amplified that these days Jains are getting also into administration, judiciary, police, and the service sectors. “I am an example of Jains getting into administrative services. The major philosophy taught in Jainism is to keep tradition to heart”. She went on to say that Jains, constituting less than 0.5% of India’s population, are among the highest contributors to personal income. Besides, Jains are the only minority community in the country who have never sought any favours/reservations for being a minority group.

A post valued quinquennially
Babus are quite important in state administration, be it as a cog in the wheel or the most sought-after Chief Secretary or Special Chief Secretary or, better yet, Advisor post-retirement. Still, none of them can garner as much attention as the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) at the time of elections. The CEO is in the limelight quinquennially, albeit for a brief period. Ahead of the elections, the CEO is the go-to person, with all government officers, even those working directly under the Chief Secretary, also under his operational control. He thus seems more powerful than the Chief Secretary, with all political parties, including the one ruling the state, making complaints only to him against their perceived opponents. In the Telugu states, the CEOs are calling the shots right now as they need to report only to the Election Commission. It is a different matter that some babus call it a ‘punishment’ post. For, some CEOs retire or are transferred without any elections being conducted during their tenure. Come elections, they are any day busier than any of the other officers on non-election duties. A CEO, however, must walk the razor’s edge when it comes to dealing with warring political parties and wily politicians; otherwise, he or she could court controversies. Whatever it may be, conducting elections smoothly will bring lasting laurels to a CEO.

AP capital shift to begin on Dasara?
Is the long wait for the shift of the executive capital of Andhra Pradesh to Visakhapatnam over? The answer seems to be in the affirmative, going by the recent one-day visit of Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary KS Jawahar Reddy to the port city, where he took stock of ongoing activities. There are indications that Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy will initiate the process of shifting offices to Vizag on Dasara. A bird little bird revealed that the CS met key officials during the visit and discussed the possible locations for offices and residences of the officials. The capital shifting plan had been on hold for various reasons since the announcement regarding it in December 2019.

Blurring the line between voter and party worker
Of late, retired babus have been voicing their informed opinions through civil society organization such as ‘Citizens for Democracy’. For example, former AP State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar recently underlined the necessity for free and fair elections as well as correct voter lists in a democracy by recounting that he himself had to fight for restoring his voting right in his native village in Duggirala. He pointed out that only after knocking on the doors of the Court he could get his name registered as a voter. For good measure, Ramesh Kumar added that electoral staff must adopt a humanitarian attitude while removing from the voters’ lists the names of those who had migrated for employment vis-à-vis those who happened to be not at home during staff visit as part of the revision process. Further, according to Ramesh Kumar, there is a question mark over the impartiality of the election process, considering that leaders of the ruling party, during their speeches, are calling volunteers as their ‘party workers’.

Driving home the point effectively
Greater Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Corporation Commissioner Saikanth Varma recent opted to travel to his office by an APSRTC bus during the observance of ‘vehicle-free day’. He drew accolades from environmentalists and healthcare experts. Leading by example, the Commissioner called upon citizens to use public transportation once a week—on Monday—to help contain pollution caused, inter alia, by vehicular exhausts. If people heed his call, cyclists and pedestrians — otherwise endangered species — can breathe easy at least on Mondays.

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