Exclusive || Gaya district is aspiring and progressive, we will surely improve in NITI Aayog’s rankings: Dr. Thiyagrajan S.M, DM Gaya

Gaya, a holy district beside the Falgu River in Bihar recently rose to fame as Niti Aayog, the apex public policy think tank of the Government, ranked the district No. 1 in May, amongst 112 Aspirational District on the basis of health and nutrition parameters, one of five indicators. Apart from health & nutrition, agriculture resource, financial inclusion, skill development and basic infrastructure are the other indicators.

The Gaya district had a composite score of 48.7 points, better than its April’s performance. While Gaya performed exceptionally well in ‘health and nutrition’ indicator, more work needs to be done to improve its status on other indicators like education, financial inclusion and skill development etc. At present, Gaya was ranked third in education with 52.7 points, 11th position in financial inclusion and skill development with 29.6 points and in the field of basic infrastructure the district bagged 64.4 points and remained 67th among the other aspirational districts.

In a candid conversation with the District Magistrate of Gaya, Dr. Thiyagrajan S.M, The Quotes made an attempt to understand what goes behind while implementing such a daunting but impactful policy in the society. Excerpts of the conversation.

Q] Sir, your team did exceptionally well in ‘health and nutrition’ indicator. What went wrong when we look at Gaya’s rank in the indicators like education, financial and skill development and basic infrastructure?

Answer: We do agree that Gaya lacks behind in few of the vital indicators, but using the word ‘wrong’ would not be apt in this context. Instead, I would like state the fact that my team along with other credible stakeholders are working rigorously to improve things and to achieve positive results. Lots of significant steps have been taken in our area which will show its result in coming time.

We are prioritizing on enhancing the quality of education, the infrastructure, hygiene and ensuring the enrolment of all the eligible village children in the school. We have even reached out to Naxal areas where we have been able to successfully build classrooms, libraries and worked day and night to felicitate books and other required stuff which would help their kids and children to pursue education.

We have also realised the importance of digitalisation in the current age due to which we have started working toward digital literacy. Although, I would admit that it’s a huge challenge as Gaya still has relatively low literacy rate due to which it gets even more difficult when we add digital aspect.

A very significant step which we have implemented is we have made mandatory for all the streets vendors to trade via digital payment mediums. We don’t grant licences until the vendors commit to digital payments. I am hopeful that with honest approach and sheer dedication the policies being implemented will soon show its result, improving Gaya’s ranking in other indicators as well.

Q] You were earlier posted in Darbhanga and joined as District Magistrate six months back. How challenging it was for you to join new district and resume the work with such accuracy?

Answer: It was bit challenging at the start but once I was aware of the issues and areas where we need to work, I guided my team accordingly. We extensively worked to release the Wonder App, with an aim to monitor health and reduce maternal mortality rate and successfully educated village women to participate and take the test. We held several camps and workshops in the district and saw the participation of lot of women.

Shravan Shruti is another flagship project which we started to early deduct hearing issues and speech impairment in children. Having a medical background, it helped me to felicitate the project with all the required equipment and permissions. We learned children less than six years have more chances of getting hearing issues so we started screening children and so far, the figure has crossed 15,000 marks. We identified around 8 children with six of them had minor symptoms of the same and due to early deduction, they were cured.

Two were sent to AIIMS Patna for the treatment and they too are showing good results. As the treatment and surgery is pretty expensive, we have tied up with a hospital in Kanpur for free treatment of children. The initiative brought surprising participation from village children due to which the situation improved significantly.

Q] How was the response from local public?

Answer: Incredible. Time has changed now and even villages are getting progressive and they understand the policies and how it will impact them in future. It is because of progressive people in Gaya district, the district is able to score such outstanding results.

Q] The central government has provided an additional grant of Rs 5 crore to Gaya district under the Aspirational Districts Programme. How this will help you to execute initiatives on the ground?

Answer: Everything has a price. We proved our will and potential to pull of such daunting initiative, that’s why central government has rewarded us with more funds. I can assure every stakeholder that each and every penny will go in the cause of welfare of the society.

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