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Making Difference and Celebrating Durga Puja 2013
Dr Sanjay Kumar Panda, IAS, Chief Secretary,Tripura
Making Difference and Celebrating Durga Puja 2013
PHOTO : Dr Sanjay Kumar Panda, IAS, Chief Secretary,Tripura

Dr Sanjay Kumar Panda, IAS is Hon. Chief Secretary of Tripura. A great intellectual with enormous love for the state, an avid photographer and visionary. Dr. Panda contributed these beautiful Sheuli Flower Pictures and this excellent Article to Tripurainfoway.Com

The evening has started approaching earlier, the day becoming shorter. Sights of Sheuli flower on early morning, Kash flower on the riverbed are indicating arrival of autumn and the much awaited Durgapuja. A cursory look at the one year which has just gone by, gives one the general feeling of passing through a difficult time. Increase in prices of essential commodities, falling value and purchase power of the rupee have been a major area of concern for the common man. At the national level, news about corruption at high places and scams in government at periodical intervals have shaken confidence of the people on the governance system. In this general background working in Tripura, a small State of the northeastern region, has been a pleasant departure. Notwithstanding various constraints faced due to its location in the northeastern region and inadequacy of financial resources, it has achieved success in several fields, which have been a matter of discussion and interest at the national level.

One of the major happenings of the last year relates to conduct of the General Elections to the Legislative Assembly in February 2013. Record turnout of voters and the fact that there was no untoward incident in the general election in Tripura has created a record in the conduct of elections in the country in recent times. Out of 23.58 Lakh registered voters, 22.07 Lakh voters (93.61%) cast their votes. The highest polling percentage was recorded in 37-Hrishyamukh Assembly segment with 96.14% and the lowest voting percentage was 86.79% in 8-Town Bordwali seat.  The fact that the women outnumbered the men in this election has added another feather to the cap. The democracy is popularly known as “a form of government, which is by the people, for the people and of the people”. Conduct of elections as per rules, with a high percentage of voting, has no doubt strengthened the foundation of democracy in the entire country. It has been possible due to the active participation and cooperation of the peace loving people of the State and sincere and hard work put in by the officials and staff  at different levels. It is necessary to draw lesson from this and extend it to other spheres of development and public welfare as well.

            Another major achievement in the last year has been the field of literacy. Tripura had the 4th highest in literacy as per 2011 census, overall literacy rate being 87.75 per cent, male 92.18 per cent and female 83.15 per cent. The State got the first prize in reducing the gap between male and female literacy from 64.91 to 83.15 per cent with an increase of 18.24 per cent during the decade 2001 to 2011. With a view to develop the human resources and achieving universal literacy, an exercise was taken up for locating each and every illiterate in the age group of 15 to 50 years and tracking each person for making him/her literate with in the shortest possible time. 1,31,634 illiterate persons in the age group of 15 – 50 years (72,115) and above 50 years (59,519) were identified based on a house-to-house survey using the Register of Ordinary Residents (ROR) maintained in each gram Panchayat. Each of these identified person was assisted for becoming literate. 8,152 adult literacy centres were opened centering round the Angan Wadi Centre(AWC) and 8,254 workers were engaged, including the Angan Wadi Worker(AWW). The AWW played a major role in providing facility in the adult literacy centre in AWC for making the left out women literate after the normal working hours of the ICDS activities.

        With a view to make it attractive for the adult learners, setting up of the kitchen garden in the AWC was linked up with literacy and provision of wage employment under MGNREGA. Raising of kitchen garden was taken up in the AWCs having land under MGNREGA by using the labour for raising the garden and for making the illiterate women literate after the working hours. This venture aims at multiple objectives of provision of wage employment under MGNREGA near the habitation, improving the quality of supplementary nutrition provided under ICDS and making the left out illiterate women literate. All available manpower as well as financial resources were mobilised for achieving this task on a mission mode. As per the assessment made  by the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), an independent agency in August 2013, the literacy rate of the State was found to be 94.65%. This was announced by  Hon’ble Chief Minister, Tripura  on the 8th September 2013, the International Literacy Day, making Tripura as one of the States with highest literacy in the country.

            It is encouraging that achievements of Tripura have been recognized at the national level in various forums from time to time. The latest such recognition has been in the report submitted by the Committee for Evolving a Composite Development Index of States set up by the Ministry of Finance under the chairmanship of Dr. Raghuram G. Rajan who in the meantime, has been appointed as the Governor of Reserve Bank of India. Based on various parameters relating to level of development, the committee has studied the position for each state of the country and submitted its report on the 2nd September 2013. In the report, Tripura has been upgraded from the ‘Least Developed’ category to ‘Less Developed’ category, and placed at serial number 18 in the scale of Underdeveloped/Need Index. Not only Tripura has surpassed all other northeastern states in the ‘Least Developed’ category, and placed just after Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Karnataka. This is undoubtedly a major achievement for the state and has been possible due to active cooperation of the peace loving people of the state along with supporting factors and initiatives taken by the government.


            Tripura is known all over the country for its natural beauty and greenery. One of the recent experiences in this regard relates to the Heritage Park inaugurated on the 30th November 2012. With a view to provide a view-cutter from the houses located adjacent to the park on the western side, kanak-kaich bamboo was planted in April 2013. A recent visit to the park makes one wonder- the way this bamboo plantation has come up in just six months providing a very soothing and effective green view-cutter securing privacy both to the inmates of the houses as well as visitors of the park. Another similar thing relates to a row of seuli trees planted on the northern side of the park parallel to the road in front of the  Iswar Chandra Vidya Sagar Smriti Siksha Pratisthan. The six months old  plants have started flowering and are in full bloom welcoming Sharadiya Durgapuja. As a matter of fact, the first flower was spotted on the first day of Aswin indicating the punctuality and the enormous strength of nature, when it is left to itself.  These are strengths which are required to be capitalized for sustainable development.

            The experiences indicated above confirm that while financial resource and physical infrastructure are necessary for development, mobilization of human resources, the men and the nature and active participation of the people are of critical importance in bringing about noticeable success.

            Annual Durgapuja in the autumn provides an opportunity to all of us to come together and spend a week of joy with our friends and neighbors in the spirit of universal brotherhood. It is hoped that the spirit of working together, which has enabled us to achieve several successes in the past year, will be replicated in other areas as well in the coming years. This would give Tripura a distinct place in the entire country.


(Written by Dr. S K Panda, IAS, Chief Secretary, Tripura,  Views expressed are personal.)

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