Saturday, December 06, 2014

An evening at secratariat

I did visit the Secratariat this evening. I needed to rush because I came around 3.30PM to home. Needed to take print outs of the letter copy and then rush, I think I reached the secratariat gate around 4.20PM. I saw only AP Secratariat, I asked the police there where can I find Telangana Secrariat, I was told to go straight and take left. I parked my 2 wheeler there and then rushed to the direction. I needed to walk around 5 minutes or more to reach the gate and then I am asked to show gate pass. I told, I do not have one but I came to submit a letter to CM. I was asked to go back to the place I came from (first gate) and take the gate pass at reception. I said I saw lot of police but no reception, but was told that reception is there only and it is common for both the secratariats.

I went back to the place cursing myself for being greedy(in finding parking place) and parking my vehicle at the first gate (AP gate) and walked back to the gate, I know the visiting hours are only 3 to 5 and already I am late. I was almost running back to the gate and then, yes I found a small entrance and asked whether this is something called "reception", answer was affirmative (nothing is written anywhere, no identification or notice). Needed to fill a form and then they let me go to Block B 5th floor through a small door. Lucky me, I didn't have to go back to the TG gate. I asked few people for the block B. I was advised to go left, take right and so on. first building was H block. I needed to seek more help. saw other blocks but not the B. so needed to take more round about and then finally after few enquires made to block B. I am so lucky. tired running around so was looking for lift to reach 5th floor. I asked a person, he told me to go to block A, If i want to use lift. I was not so sure if that is right direction for lift, so used the stair case (actually I was told to go to 4th floor at reception but I knew I need to go to 5th floor as made few phone enquiries yesterday).

Well, finally made it to 5th floor. I see typical govt office of 1980s or so where people are carrying lot of physical files and papers and lot of red tape everywhere. Applied common sense that I need to see Asst. Secratary to CM, so found that place on the right side. so went in. told that I have a problem and need to give letter to CM, I was told to explain what is the matter. I explained that my mother faced problems at mandal office and I needed a resolution. He took the letter tried reading the letter for few seconds. Not sure if he got entire thing but he understood that I have problem and he signed and stamped on the letter. Lucky me again I didnt have to pay the Rs 10/- bribe for the stamp/seal at the CM office.

I asked where can I submit an RTI letter, and question was for what?, I said I am giving this letter so not sure if it will be addressed or not so I want to raise an RTI for the status of the same. He told me to behave to get correct information (my tone was bit high since was running around), I have told my apologies and asked for the information, he was bit sarcastic about the letter and said the letters will be addressed and I can call him for status after 10 days at 2345 4579 (Hyderabad number).

and I was told to go little further to another place where they can take RTI requests. I went in. Couple of middle aged people asked me to sit and relax and then asked me what is the problem.I explained about my mother being asked for Rs. 10/- for farm loan waiver process etc and I want to have information on what is government and how the various departments and offices work, roles responsibilities SLAs etc. I was told that I should be asking individual departments if really serious about information. They suggested me to visit Agriculture and Cooperation department with RTI and they told me that it is in Block D and 1st floor. we have exchanged pleasantries and they also agree that system is bad and we had nice chat on few things.

Now next thing is to go to Block D, I came down walking and asked for guidance again, good thing is that it is close by (few blocks away still). I was walking, I see many people ( I think they are called attenders) carrying the red tape files here and there. I thought CBN introduced E Services ,  but it looks like  not applicable for the Telangana govt.  I got serious doubts about how Mr. KCR can convert  Karimnagar or hyderabad to London when we do not have basic stuff working at his own office in proper way. Unfortunate.

Ok, then I found  block D, saw small crowd around and found one person whom I can relate through news papers etc. Mr. E. Rajender, Minister, is done for the day and leaving for home. I liked his dress, it looks so fresh as if he wore it just then. very very interesting. Mr. leaving before 5PM. Lucky govt ministers and employees. Most of the time, I work till 8 or 9PM at office and after coming back home I still attend client calls because I am responsible for the client projects.

Ok, almost close,found my way to 1st floor and agriculture department, I was suggested to go little further for tapal section, I couldn't identify the right location so asked a little old gentleman for advice. I told him what I was looking for. I changed my RTI request content a bit and now just interested with the agriculture department and how their departments, sections, offices etc work and responsibilities. He told me to visit the H.O.D whose office is near LB stadium, then I told my problem, I want to understand how government works and how a common man get understand it.

My pain point is simple, I live here right in hyderabad and I face so many types of issues, I may not get water on particular day or there is a power problem, there could be  a drainage problem or someone might have dug up the road creating problem or I might just have an accident and need to deal with govt. How do I know the system well?

He told me that secratariat is only for policy making and we got departments that are implementation/execution agencies and each dept has one Principle secratary etc. At times one principle secratary may be representing multiple departments belonging to differnt ministries so it becomes interesting that one person is responsible for multiple ministers. It is at the convenience of the government.

I was chatting with him further. If information is so difficult to understand and extract, how will a common man understands, he suggested me to write all suggestions to concerned departments and then follow it up. I had doubts. what if I start doing that and then suddently the govt changes? he supported me that some one brought an idea of having single identity and link with everything in the country (aadhar) and then someone now says that is useless. I said, exactly same thing if I want to do it through government. What if I join a team and then extract this information and build a website?

He agreed it will be good idea and I can do that. well, with thanking him, I started back home. I needed to ask few more directions for EXIT.

Wish they have arranged a proper notice and also proper directions for various blocks etc. The secratariat is not for common people, they made it so complex that no one can find right person or department.

The people I met are same like me, They are from earth and look same like me and not my enemies. They sympathize with everything that I talked about and looks like it needs lot of learning/training to all the people around to make real good policies and implement them. everyone including KCR and his family ministers and others and the employees need training on how to approach problem and solve etc.

Most importantly they need proper sign boards and remove those stupid barricades that increase the distance between buildings.

I might need to visit this office few more times to really understand more.

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