Mukhiyas in Bihar to get smartphones, executive aides

The Panchayati Raj department has sanctioned Rs 8,000 to each mukhiya for smartphone and Internet connection.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Published:May 31, 2014 1:48 am

The Bihar government has decided to give smartphones and executive assistants to all its 8,402 mukhiyas, the third layer of the Panchayati Raj system that has Zila Parishad and Committees (block levels) as two other levels in its three-tiers.

The Panchayati Raj department has sanctioned Rs 8,000 to each mukhiya for smartphone and Internet connection. The department has decided to pay Rs 9,000 to an executive assistant, who will have to bring his/ her own laptop with Internet connection to maintain a record of daily functioning. The district magistrates have started the process of selecting executive assistants who are required to have the basic knowledge of computers. The move will cost the government Rs 6.72 crore for mobile phones and Rs 90.72 crore annually for hiring executive assistants.

The state government that first started the practice of giving mobile phones to its engineers in Road Construction Department four years ago has taken technology to the lowest level of governance. The idea is to enable “direct, prompt and hassle-free” communication between Panchayati Raj department and other department officials to mukhiyas through use of smart phones. “It was found that letters issued by the departments to mukhiyas take 15-20 days to reach and at times do not reach them at all. Now that all mukhiyas would carry mobile phones with Internet connection, they can view government circulars and notifications on the government website. They can also receive mails on their IDs,” a Panchayati Raj department official said.

The government also came up with this idea as most women mukhiyas are uneducated and depend heavily on their husbands, popularly called “Mukhiya pati”. Now, with an executive assistant on the job, even those who are not technology-savvy, can learn the functioning of smartphones with help of their assistants.

Panchayati Raj minister Bhim Singh said giving smartphones to mukhiyas was another step towards realising e-governance. A senior official of the department said though providing smartphones was a good idea, the department may have to start training programme for mukhiyas, most of whom are not friendly with technology. “Else, there is fear of phones landing up with personal assistants of mukhiyas. We also have to get all mukhiyas to create email accounts so that they can get correspondence from departments concerned. As of now, a class-IV employee from block carries letters to mukhiyas,” the official said.

Nayanagar panchayat (Samastipur) mukhiya Sudhanshu Kumar, who was the first Bihar mukhiya to present BPL list in CD six years ago, said: “It looks a very good idea but it has some practical problems. Most of us are not familiar with smartphones, which do not function well with 2G network available in villages. Providing executive assistants to us will expedite our work. Technology will surely bring speed, efficiency and transparency at last level of governance”.

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