Chief Minister Fellowship

I have had the opportunity to be associated with the Chief Minister Fellowship programme (“programme”) since the very first year of its inception. This is a very well designed and well run programme that aims to infuse new ideas and spirit into the working of the government by tapping the idealism, enthusiasm and domain knowledge of young professionals from various fields. The programme is administered by the Chief Minister’s Office. Every year online applications are invited from young professionals and after a rigorous selection process that involves a written test and interview, 50-60 candidates are selected to be placed as Chief Minister Fellow (“fellow”) across departments in Mumbai and in districts. Department heads and senior district officials are asked in advance to specify the sector/projects where they want to place the fellows and the fellows are subsequently placed by matching their skill sets and qualifications with the needs of the department.

I have had a brilliant experience with the programme and the fellows in the last three years of its running. The fellows are extremely bright, motivated and genuinely keen on making a difference to the society. The most unique advantage of being placed at the district level is the wide canvas available to fellows in terms of the diversity of work in multiple sectors. Over last three years, the fellows have worked with the district administration in various sectors ranging from education to health to information technology to agriculture to social inclusion etc. Given below are some of the glimpses of works that fellows have undertaken in recent past:

1.Chandrapur Collectorate is one of the only three collectorates in the state to completely use the e-Office platform for disposal of files thereby bringing in more transparency and accountability. Chandrapur has the third highest number of files created in e-Office among all government departments in Maharashtra. Chandrapur is also one of the first offices in the state to use the GeM portal for all the purchases of the Collectorate. Both of these initiatives were completely driven by a fellow and continue to be in use today even after the fellow has completed his tenure.

2. The idea for beautification of Chandrapur and Ballarshah railway stations which were recently adjudged to be the best railway stations in the country, came from a CM fellow who then worked very closely with the forest, railways, government arts college and guardian minister’s office to see it through.

3. In partnership with civil society organisation like Tata Trusts, fellows launched the initiative of imparting computer education to kids from government schools through 10 buses that are fitted with laptops and have trained teachers who move with the buses. At present, we have covered 8542 students in 120 schools in 6 blocks of the district.

4. Fellows are working with Tata Trusts, Arpan (NGO) and National Law School, Bangalore to make Chandrapur first POCSO compliant district in the country. Towards this end, they have organized several rounds of workshops with various stakeholders dealing with child sexual abuse.

5. In partnership with Maharogi Sewa Samiti, Anandvan and Tata Trusts, the fellows have initiated the pilot project called “Strissue” in Pombhurna block of the district. The project is about creating awareness about menstrual health amongst rural women and also capture issues and practices of the rural women during menstruation period.

6. The fellows started an initiative called “Khoj”, where common public was encouraged to share their innovative ideas with the administration in fields of agriculture, tourism, process improvement etc, so that they could be replicated across the district.

7. The fellows were instrumental in ensuring that all 18 services of the revenue department are given online only. They also oversaw the handing over of operations of Setu Centres at all tehsils in the district to women SHGs affiliated with MAVIM. This has been done for the first time in the state and has helped improve the perception of the citizens towards revenue administration.

8. Fellows are also going to be working with Tata Trusts to improve the agricultural income of the farmers in 6 blocks of the district by improving agricultural practices, crop diversification and irrigation potential.

9. Fellows in the district have been relentlessly working to ensure that the marginalised sections of the society like HIV patients, transgenders, female sex workers etc are all brought under the social security net and have ration cards, Aadhar and election cards with them.

These are the glimpses into some of the initiatives that fellows have undertaken in the past and are currently working on. They virtually have a pie in everything important that happens in the district. The learning curve for the fellows in one year has been very steep. The fellows usually have very little or no exposure of the government and its working when they join the programme. However, within a year, the exposure that they get of the government machinery and its working and the learning they have is unparalleled.

The fellows are bright and motivated but they need to be nurtured and encouraged and that is where mentors have to play an important role. Mentors need to invest their time and effort in shaping the fellows. They need to take interest in the work fellows are expected to do and keep guiding and encouraging them throughout. I can say with a lot of pride that many of the initiatives taken in Chandrapur have the imprint of fellows’ imagination, intelligence and hard work. Given an opportunity and if nurtured well, these bright young men and women can do wonders.