Forum for Indian Journalists on Education, Environment, Health & Agriculture
A South Asian Initiative on Development Communication
Mr. Vikramaditya Singh Malik

IAS Officer

Joint Magistrate, Bijnore

What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?

Frankly speaking, the canvas is so wide that you can do so many things at one time. For example, as an SDM, my main job is to ensure law and order and do revenue related works as well. Apart from these, I am also supposed to do either election work or disaster management work. Apart from these four, here in Bijnor, I also have the charge of development authority. So I get to work on a lot of development projects. There are other issues we have to deal with. For instance, in one of the river areas, thousands of acres of land are in people’s illegal occupation where they were doing sugarcane farming. The sugarcane was attached and auctioned.

We have also adopted six schools which were in a bad condition. We are remodeling these schools under the Operation Kayakalp run by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. So I feel the canvass is so wide that one person with the right intention can do so many things and bring changes in so many areas. Whatever comes in my way, I try to learn and then contribute in the best possible way.


How did the idea of Bikes of Bijnor come to your mind?


When I joined here, I was visiting my Sub Division for floods. I saw 200-250 bicycles were lying abandoned at a police post. I asked one of the policemen that from where so many cycles came. I was told that during Covid-19 pandemic last year, workers from Uttarakhand and Punjab used to cross the post while on their way to their destinations. Special trains were started for them. Labourers kept their cycles here. After I came back to the headquarters, I spoke to the DM about those cycles. He asked me what can be done with these cycles. Since I have some international and metro cities exposure, I got the idea of a public bike sharing program. However something on the concept of waste to wealth hasn't been executed so far. These cycles were repaired and put to use. The rest is history!

Help us to understand how challenging it is to work for the government given the enormity of tasks at hand.

One of my mottos is -- the devil lies in the details. So if you do something just for the heck of it, then of course it is not that intricate. You will end up doing something but neither would you learn properly nor would you be able to do justice to it. I feel you really need to get into details of each and everything and then see how you can streamline every process within the entire system. For instance, under Operation Kayakalp, we have to make the DPR about which school needs what kind of remodeling. You can’t do each and every work in the time frame of a 9-5 job. You have to stretch your work hours and then that’s doable. For the Bikes of Bijnor project, we worked so hard. It took us 4-5 months of daily meetings twice a day to make it possible.

What is your take on governance?

I think governance has undergone a sea change over the years. Earlier the idea of governance was that the people would come to you. Now, we are going to them. It was a reactive form of governance earlier, which has now become proactive. Every form of governance has its own pros and cons. The proactive form of governance seems to have more positives than negatives as of now. It exposes the governance set up much more to the people which again has its own set of positives and negatives. One positive I would say is that people’s expectations have risen. With the advent of social media, people can tag the concerned departments in one tweet saying this has not been done. So accountability has increased. That means we have to work really hard.

Technology has played a key role in enhancing transparency and efficiency in governance. Do you think futuristic technology including artificial intelligence will play a significant role in executing government welfare programs?

Definitely, Yes! I feel technology has an important role to play. However, we have to be wary of the fact that technology is not the whole and sole kind of solution. It has to be a mix and match of efficiently employing technology at the right places. For example, technology is used to reduce human discretion in areas where it is not required. In Varanasi Smart City, we had an Integrated Command Centre where we were effectively using technology for traffic management, monitoring of the challan system, traffic camera and advanced surveillance system. Artificial Intelligence system is a welcome step provided it is used at the right place.

What are some of the changes that you would wish to see in bureaucracy?

NITI Aayog comes up with good practices. We can have more platforms where effective discussions and brainstorming sessions can take place and we can learn from each other’s experiences. We need to understand that we are in the service for making the right impact with the right kind of work. A lot of times, it is not about one or two big things that we do but a lot of times, it is only about small processes or systems that we infuse. These few small things will really help in infusing efficiency and effectiveness in our service.

What are the lesser known facts about bureaucracy in India?

The lesser known fact is that we civil servants work very hard. I can talk about UP cadre because I belong to this. All officers work very hard, stretch their work hours to ensure that the system is in place. However, many times the impression is that it is a very privileged sort of life. Every job has its own pros and cons. So I want to send this message through Bureaucrats India that we civil servants work very hard for people’s sake.

Do you feel that people have a lot of expectations from Civil Servants?

There are people who have a preconceived notion that bureaucrats don’t work, whereas there are a set of people who have faith in us. Few days back, some newspapers did a survey on the most trusted institutions among the general public! And in that they mentioned judiciary, DM, SDM and so on. You will be surprised to know that DM was the most trusted institution in the district at a local level. At the grassroots level, people still look up to DM to seek justice and get their problems solved. So, yes expectations are there. DMs of all districts are working very hard. This is why they are the most trusted institution in the district across the country.

When did you realise you wanted to join Civil Services?

While practicing as a lawyer, I felt that in Civil Services, you have the opportunity to shape how the governance stands out. There is a lot of scope of social impact work that one can do. While working with the law firm, I realised that I was working only for myself and for the clients that I get. That is when I realised I wanted to do something which has a wider impact driven by your work and knowledge.

How easy or difficult was it to adapt to Civil Services and how did you reorient yourself?

It was not very difficult. We have a two-year training period. Once we clear the exam, we go to LBSNAA, Mussoorie for a year and then we have District Training for another one year and then we have sessions with the academy for a month and a half. So during the training, they give you good insights through other officer’s experiences, curriculum that they develop. They give you an orientation on how the next thirty years of your service is going to be.

Tell us about your family.

I come from a family of Civil Servants. My father has been an IAS officer. My sister is also an IAS officer. My mother is an author.

What are your hobbies and do you get time to pursue it?

I like sports. I have been a national level tennis player. I played cricket at Oxford. On a daily basis, I try to go out for my daily run which is my kind of meditation. Apart from that, whenever I get time, I play tennis, and squash. In Bijnor, I have picked up badminton, which I try to play every alternate day, if not daily. Apart from that, since my mother is an author, reading comes very naturally to me. I also like traveling.

What is the best compliment that you got in your short span of service?

The biggest compliment is when people come to you and tell you that they have heard about you being impartial and honest and we know we will get justice from you. So that is satisfying and a compliment in itself.

Last but not the least, what will be your message for the aspiring Civil Servants.

It’s one of the best jobs in the country. Don’t just take it as a job. It’s one of the best utilizations of your knowledge base and your passion you have for civil services. So try to get into it with all your heart and hard work. Nothing substitutes hard work and the harder you work, the luckier you get. Please enter into this service with the right intention. Do it for making an impact in the lives of people and not just because it's a job that comes with a certain amount of prestige or privilege. Do it as a service with the right intention.




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