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Yet Another Award For This IAS Officer, This Time It’s A National Award For Covid Management in Srinagar

IAS officer Shahid Choudhary was awarded National Award 2020-21 for outstanding efforts in Covid-19 management as Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar.

Covid pandemic brought a lot of challenges for not only the common people but also the administrators who had to manage a situation which they had never experienced before. The pandemic was indeed a real-life test for them. This is the third consecutive year since the pandemic started, and many bureaucrats are in limelight for their exceptional work during this unusual situation.

Among them is IAS officer Shahid Choudhary, who was awarded the National Award 2020-21 for outstanding efforts in Covid-19 management as Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar. The award was conferred by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Government of India on 7 Jan 2022. Among 231 nominations from several organisations and districts across the country, he attained the first position and won a gold medal in the category of Covid-19 management with effective use of technology.

24th National Conference on e-Governance held at Hyderabad

The National Award carries a Gold Medal, Citation and prize money of 2 lakh rupees. The award recognises use of Information and Communication Technology in efforts aimed at Covid-19 management and containment.

TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN INITIATIVES

Secretary, Tribal Affairs Department and CEO Mission Youth J&K, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, who was earlier posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, managed the situation with a systemized operation which included inter-sectoral coordination and community participation.

A project detail report submitted by Dr. Shahid in the National Conference on e-governance said, “In wake of Covid-19 Pandemic lockdown, the enormous challenge involved in managing a city with 1.5 million population viz-a-viz, containment measures, contact tracing, quarantine management and effective communication, a host of IT measures were adopted under a coordinated project. These IT interventions helped district administration to cover ground from information dissemination to self-evaluation and contact tracing to complete quarantine management as well as public grievance redressal and ensuring essential service delivery, food and medicine reached every household.”

Several innovative initiatives were undertaken by the district administration which includes, emergency management and public grievance redressal, tracing travellers using Talash Mobile App which also included crowd sourcing of information apart from locating travel details, contact tracing through web based apps, pooling volunteers/non-government medicos, paramedics, NGOs, and stakeholders through a web-based app, delivery of ration, milk, vegetables, medicines and essentials through IT-based interventions, portal for online registration of expecting mothers and patients suffering from cancer, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

Apart from this, effective public communication on covid-19 containment and safety measures was done through videos, SMS, VMD displays.

In absence of any established protocols or sufficient research, Covid-19 was equally challenging for all of us in the process however few of the parameters which probably helped us stand apart included a thoroughly cohesive teamwork involving medicos, researchers, public health officials, NGOs, Volunteers, media and ofcourse the effective communication with and active support of citizens.

Dr. Shahid Choudhary IAS, Secretary, Tribal Affairs Department and CEO Mission Youth J&K

He added, “The essential services teams did an outstanding job to minimise the burden on the system. Innovation, openness to ideas and suggestions, ever-evolving policies, prompt decision-making and coordinated strategies helped us to make the Covid-19 containment model unique. Use of technology remained hallmark of the initiatives.”

IMPACT

A positive impact was observed at various levels, in tangible as well as in intangible terms. In tangible, the absolute number of cases captured in the system or the interventions done during quarantine or while tracking the offenders gave the administration very clear data to plan their actions for the control of the pandemic.

While in intangible terms, these applications generated a sentiment of positivity and trust in the general public. People felt that the administration is very proactive and responsive towards the control of the pandemic. Public grievance redressal through the dedicated IVRS call centre remained the hallmark of public service delivery during covid. Further, the database generated for more than 12 lakh population served an online repository for testing, screening, contact tracing and later on vaccination.

The focus on Covid-19 containment had an integral vision that no citizen is left unattended and non-Covid emergencies are offered equal importance while ensuring seamless delivery of essential services.

Dr. Shahid Choudhary IAS, Secretary, Tribal Affairs Department and CEO Mission Youth J&K

A series of web and mobile apps helped in different ways like contact tracing, tracing travel history, quarantine, isolation, management of red zones, screening and so on.

Dr. Shahid received the award from Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State, PMO and Ministry of Personnel, in presence of K T Rama Rao, Minister for Urban Development, Industries & IT, Ajay Praskash, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and IT, Govt of India, Somesh Prakash, Chief Secretary, Telangana and V Srinivas, Secretary DARPG, Govt of India, at the 24th National Conference on e-Governance inaugurated at Hyderabad.

I strongly believe that every award is just recognition for efforts of an outstanding TEAM, a very responsive citizenry, collective efforts of stakeholders and innovative methods leading to successful results. I am also of form belief that every award brings with it a lot of responsibilities to perform better. It’s always a great honour to earn such accolades at national level and at the same time it adds more sets of responsibilities in different ways.

Dr. Shahid Choudhary IAS, Secretary, Tribal Affairs Department and CEO Mission Youth J&K

Prior to this, he is also the recipient of country’s highest civil services award, the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration 2014, National Award 2014 by ECI, National Award for e-Governance 2015 by Ministry of Personnel, Govt of India, National Award for Women Empowerment in 2017-18, National Award for Girl Child Education in 2019, Excellence in Governance Award 2019, Election Award 2016, Red Cross Awards 2015, 2017, Governance Award 2015 and several other accolades for his outstanding contribution as Deputy Commissioner of various districts including Reasi, Udhampur, Kathua, Rajouri, Bandipora and Srinagar.

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