As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps through India, districts are being tapped by the government for timely detection and reporting of cases, and prevention. Our ‘Inside Districts’ series will feature interviews of district and Block-level officials, panchayat functionaries and frontline workers to understand their challenges and best practices.
The Accountability Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research is currently operational in five Indian states. For part five of the series, our staff spoke with an Upper Division Clerk at a Zila Parishad office in Rajasthan.
The interview was originally conducted in Hindi on 19 April 2020, and has been translated.
Q: What is the Zila Parishad office working on?
Clerk: In our district, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Zila Parishad has been made the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) for Coronavirus pandemic response. So almost hundred per cent of our energy is focussed on Coronavirus-related tasks.
Q: What kind of administrative tasks are ongoing?
Clerk: One of the main tasks is procurement. Our office is coordinating procurement of Personal Protective Equipment for the district. Apart from that, we are also coordinating and managing the expenditure through MLALAD and MPLAD funds, as well as any other fund sanctions that are urgently required.
Q: Since you are working for the Zila Parishad, what is the outlook for Coronavirus spread in rural areas?
Clerk: Spread of coronavirus in rural areas is not a huge worry for our district. The villages are very spread out and people live in small, spread out habitations or “Dhanis” as we call them. So if people remain in rural areas, they will actually be isolated from the virus spread. So far, all the cases have been at the district headquarters.
Q: Have any measures been taken for your safety?
Clerk: Yes, we have been provided with masks and hand sanitisers. Everyone is encouraged to sanitise their hands at regular intervals. The office is also thoroughly sanitised and disinfected every day.
Q: How are you coping with the stress of the current situation?
Clerk: I am lucky that my family is with me and both my children are at home. They have been cooking different dishes for me. This helps keep me going!