<br>In the run-up to the International Women's Day celebrations on March 8, Buldhana District Magistrate and Collector Suman Chandra has hit upon a hitherto untested idea — make a few schoolgirls ‘nanhi Collector' for a day to inspire and empower them.
Accordingly, on Monday, a bright eighth standard student of Padoli Zilla Parishad School, Poonam Deshmukh (13), ‘took over' as the Collector for a day.
“I formally introduced her to the staff, escorted her to the chamber and my seat from where she oversaw the work as a Collector. She interacted confidently with the local media, participated in Lokshahi Din, expressed concerns over the unseasonal rains that hit the district on Sunday and guided the concerned officials to ensure that necessary help reaches the affected farmers,” Collector Suman Chandra told IANS.
On Tuesday, it was the turn of Yogita Magar (14), a ninth standard student of Mangrul Navghare ZP School, who officiated as the Collector for a day.
“I even present them with a formal letter, ‘handing charge' to them for the day, as part of the ‘indicative collectorship' which may even cement their own secret ambitions to become an IAS officer in future,” Chandra said.
Yogita had a busy day too. Besides her onerous office duties, she also went to supervise a road construction project and asked the contractors to take measures to control dust pollution, which was affecting the local people.
“Its not a question of taking any official decision — that's my job — but to give them a slice of experience of what are the actual duties of a Collector, how to meet and interact with hundreds of people coming with their problems, how the day's work is planned etc,” Chandra explained.
The experiment, considered the first of its kind in the country, has caught the imagination of social media with laurels pouring in for Chandra and her ‘nanhi Collectors'.
On how the day's candidate is selected, Chandra said, “Nothing is planned, nor is it competitive in any manner. The school education officials recommend the names of some of the brightest girls, or others with all-round excellence, leadership qualities etc, and they are invited.”
At the end of the day, Chandra asks the ‘outgoing Collector' to pen a brief essay on her day's experiences, how it would inspire her on her future career plans to join the civil services etc.
“The girls will be more confident, aware of their future goals, and most importantly, they will motivate other girls and family members to perform better and shatter all glass ceilings. It's also a process for their immersion in governance at an early age, with ‘seeing is believing' being the ground reality,” Chandra said.
Appointed as Buldhana Collector in December 2019, Chandra has also announced a ‘Pink Week' focusing on women's health, since “a woman in the pink of health will also help keep the society in the pink of health.”
To achieve this objective, the women of the district are being screened for anaemia, cancer and other diseases for followup treatment.