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Journey of a PGP in Government Wonderland

J S Deepak, PGP-82, IAS

After 38 years in government, including more than five years as Secretary Telecom & IT, Government of India, and Indian Ambassador to the WTO at Geneva, I completed my governmental innings with a great sense of fulfilment and satisfaction.

Looking back, it has been a wonderful journey, professionally enriching and in some ways a roller coaster ride. The IAS gave me the chance to work in diverse areas including health, elementary education, personnel, industry and commerce, telecom and IT. These included assignments both in the field, with a focus on getting things done, as well as in Lucknow and Delhi, framing health, education, trade, telecom and IT policy, areas that IIMA’s first director, Ravi Mathai, termed the ‘under-managed’ sectors of the economy.

I had the opportunity of leading some big initiatives both in my home state Uttar Pradesh (UP), and at the federal level. Introduction of the mid-day meal program for 12.5 million children in primary schools in UP in 2005; designing and conduction of the first Indian 3G and 4G spectrum auctions in 2010; coordinating the race to set up the Commonwealth Games Village for the Delhi Games in 2010; taking on, and winning, a furious fight to protect our agriculture minimum support price schemes and promote food security for developing countries at the WTO in 2014; ambitious licensing and regulatory reforms in the telecom sector in 2016, clearly stand out. These were great learning experiences, embedded with valuable insights, heady in many ways and hopefully also contributed to addressing some of our country’s problems!

There have also been disappointments, lost chances and failures. While I have agonised deeply about what more could have been done by us in the civil service for improving the life of people, this has led to a feeling of regret and humility rather than cynicism. It is said that the nine most devastating words in the English language are, ‘I am from government and I am here to help.’ Being part of this insensitive system, often buffeted and brought down in trying to make it responsive, has been no mean challenge. But each and every time, one has had the will to get up and fight. Not only to endure but seek to prevail.  And try to deliver on scale!

During this journey the time spent on campus has proved to be invaluable in many ways. IIMA has been a beacon of excellence and gave one the confidence to take on big responsibilities at a relatively young age. It has also equipped us subconsciously with a structured, problem-solving approach and the ability to communicate crisply and convergently. Bless the much-lamented WAC [Written Analysis and Communication] assignments!

Colleagues from my PGP-82 batch have served in diverse assignments. From framing state policies to implementing reform initiatives; from functioning as regulators to working as police officers in some of the toughest situations; from heading international organisations to representing the country as Ambassadors; we have done it all. Wherever we may have worked, one common thread has bound us–the gung-ho spirit inculcated on the IIMA campus together with the desire to make a difference! And while we have had vastly different experiences, the common IIMA ethos has constantly guided us. Our career paths are testimony to the fact that with focus and determination, courage and endurance, insight and pragmatism one can make a huge difference in governance and in delivering outcomes even in a large and impersonal entity called the government.

AUTHOR: admin
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