PRAISING HIS government’s community connect programme ‘Raahgiri’ and the warm response to marathons in Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had recently expressed happiness over mobilisation of thousands of youths for these cultural and sports activities in different parts of the state. Senior IPS officer and Special Officer to the CM, O P Singh, who is actively associated with both programmes, tells The Indian Express about how these programmes are being received by the youth:
What’s the aim of the ‘Raahgiri’ campaign?
‘Raahgiri’ programmes are meant for the public in urban areas while marathons involve sportspersons from urban as well as rural areas. Under ‘Raahgiri’, twice a month in every district on alternate Sundays, a stretch of 4-5 km of road is closed to vehicles. It is temporarily turned into a sporting and cultural activities area, open to all. The aim is to give people opportunities to bond among themselves and with government officials, encourage them to adopt a physically active lifestyle, give talented players and artists opportunities to showcase their talent, create awareness on important social issues and give government officials a live avenue to hone their soft skills.
What do you expect from the campaign?
The government thinks that the task of community-building is as important as infrastructure development. Initiatives like ‘Raahgiri’ and marathons aim to promote bonhomie, brotherhood and harmony among people.
How many functions have been organised till now?
From April 2018 to August 2019, some 517 Raahgiri programmes have been organised across the state in which 12.80 lakh people took part. Deputy commissioners personally took part in 167 of them while police superintendents were present in 202 programmes.
How has this programme been received?
The programme has been a great success. It has brought people together, changed public discourse. It has become the favourite weekend excursions for many families, where people take part in different sports activities and enjoy cultural programmes. It has generated immense positivity and changed the government-people relationship from that of acrimony and apathy to active collaboration.
Why do you focus on marathons in districts?
A marathon is a community sport. The Haryana government has reinvented it into a tool to strengthen the government-youth relationship. Under the programme, every police station in-charge is expected to have a good working relationship with at least 50 youth-influencers having way with 20-odd youth. They encourage them to take part in district-level annual marathons organised annually. The initiative has grown extremely popular with people, particularly youth. District marathons around a theme of social importance routinely attract over 50,000 people. The initiative has helped police acquired strategic relational assets, helpful in preventing law and order problem.
You had also written a book on sports. What’s its theme?
I have written three books — ‘Say Yes to Sports’ published in 2013 and ‘HauslaNama’ in 2018 and ‘Jin Dhoondha Tin Paaiyan’ which released earlier this month…‘Say Yes to Sports’ was about my experience as Haryana sports director from 2008-12, the period that saw the state emerge as a sporting giant. The message is that it is possible to deliver spectacular change through government if you are good in planning, communication and execution.