THE ABC OF RURAL AREA MANAGEMENT

Abraham Lincoln: ´If I had 10 hours to chop a tree, I would spend 8 hours sharpening my axeµ

4/28/2010

Ranjit Kumar Maiti, WBCS( Exe), Joint Secretary Panchayat & Rural Dev Dept, Govt of WB ranjitmaiti@gmail.com, rkm-prd@nic.in, 09903018726

1. ELEMENTS OF POSITIVE APPROACH 
     

Do not have any fixed mindset , try to be open to fresh ideas. Be helpful beyond the duties of your post. Be rational. Do not thrust your views on others convince them or get convinced. Do not confine your thinking only to rules and regulations they change with times. Be a patient listener. Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens. Do not have a know all attitude, test the information, Do not discard it outright. Give due respect to opinion makers and influential persons. Utilize their advice and do not ignore them. .

4/28/2010

R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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ELEMENTS OF POSITIVE ATTITUDE 


Try to be a part of the society you are administering. Treat criticism as external input. Develop the habit of not reacting immediately. Wait and weigh the criticism for at least 24 hours. You will often find its correctness. Remember that as a civil servant,you are only an ordinary citizen empowered with certain powers temporarily to help in administering the Human affairs of the area. Try to be a leader and not a boss  

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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Leadership
Leadership is influencing people -- by providing purpose, direction, and motivation -- while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization. Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. Leadership is the ability to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people. The average person works at 50 % or less of potential. Leader s job is to unleash that extra 50%.
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Leadership 

Courage - not complacency - is our need today. Leadership not salesmanship. - John F. Kennedy Leaders think and talk about solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. Your effectiveness in an organisation is directly proportionate to your ability to leverage yourself. Formula of 5% will make wonders at your work place. Try it and you will not fail.
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2. REMOVING THE FIXED MINDSET  

  

More than half of the problem in this world can be sorted out if each one of us appreciates the other s mindset and tries to analyze why the other person is angry or critical. ThereforeCivil servants should act as Psychologists and doctors to all their visitors and not merely telling them Rules etc. Let us solve people s problems to the best of our professional abilities. Let us not be authoritarian in our approach or thinking. We must remember that we are paid from the public exchequer for attending to the people s problems. In knowledge economy leadership is no more based on the organisation structure and authority of the leader s position in the hierarchy. The leader bases it on the value hierarchy. addition
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3. KNOW YOUR WEAPONS
It is essential for every civil servant to know :What he/she can do for others on his/ her own. What he/ she can do with the help of others. What he /she cannot do or should not do.  Try to know the areas in which the organization has not really functioned well in the past ( going through Audit reports, PAC reports and Annual Administrative reports etc).  Ask each member of staff to put up list of pending matters.  Check up pending Court cases, their numbers, latest position. 

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Regular field visits would give the first hand knowledge about the field realities. Careful perusal of daily Daks would provide valuable insight. So a civil servant must assess the Strength and weakness of the support system he/ she has.This is necessary for him/her to build public relations. Make yourself accessible to the people non officials, officials, common applicants , people s representatives and others. It is a quick way of finding out problems, bottlenecks, aspirations and expectations of the local area. Empower others to perform at their best by continually reminding them how good they are and how much you believe in them.
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By helping persons in non- official matters one can build up an interlocking chain of people who will be willing to accede to any request made by you for help in future. While official channel may come up with Sab theek hai ( all are well) responses, such non-official channels will often tell you about the lacunae, leakages as well as brewing tensions about which you may have had little information. Be aware of Touts and middlemen. On SWOT analysis of the situation, fix targets ( for yourself and your office both quantitative and qualitative with priority.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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As an individual your aim should be to spread happiness and minimize troubles of all whom you come in contact. It is always prudent to convey decisions yourself and not through staff. This will help you in getting a direct feedback. People better appreciate effectiveness than mere pronouncements. Your staff should be instructed never to be rude. They must be polite and patient. If the ego of the visitor is hurt, it will cause more damage to your public image. Many officially unacceptable issues can be sorted out at the personal level, depending on how positive minded the person sitting at that level is.
R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB 10

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There are 99% chances that the other person would be as positive minded or helpful in dealing with you, if you yourself have been positive. Like a chain you can improve your image as well as your efficiency. Remember that all tasks are not possible in this world but your sincere and extra effort should be made known. It is only Follow-up which can make your deadlines credible. A team should be developed for constant monitoring at all levels. There should be a culture where action is completed without getting a reminder. To avoid Legal complication or Audit Objections in certain cases, it is better to decide things in a meeting rather than process from the lowest level .
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4. Relations with media    

As civil servant, one has to be very careful as to what he /she speaks to the press and how he /she explains the policies of the government. One should use the media for giving publicity to the actions which are likely to improve the image of the Govt. Supplying basic facts cannot and should never be suppressed in a democracy. This is also very relevant in terms of RTI Act 2005. Civil servants should not suppress information on any wrong action of the officials otherwise it would snowball into a major problem.
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We should treat journalists as we would treat any friend. Do not get prejudiced against him/her because he/ she is a journalist. We must learn to treat them courteously without discrimination. We should give them precedence to meet us in the same manner as we would do to the people s representatives. If a scurrilous / abusive article is written about you in the press, you should not panic or entertain a feeling of revenge. If there is a weakness or shortcomings on your part, it is better to remove them rather than to fight it out with the journalist.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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5.HUMILITY AND NOT ARROGANCE
Life is something beyond your career. Personal character goes beyond your official post. People look upon you as a role model and you should live up to that role.  One of the qualities people dislike in officials is their arrogance but people mostly like Humility and Modesty.  People would expect you to visit villages and talk to the poor, widows and those marginalised section in the society.  People would love you when you go out to them, mix with them like any other citizen. Sit with them, drink their tea or milk they offer you very lovingly. Visit their religious places, join them in their festivities. 

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Try to talk to the villagers in their local dialect. Before going to a village or any other place get a background of their customs, language and traditions. Learn some words which are popular locally. Talk to the youths of the locality. Don t go in your tie and well polished. Go out in plain shirts and pants. If any food item given to you seems unhygienic, be diplomatically selective and eat the fruits offered.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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If your wife accompanies you during field , she should go in very simple clothes. The older folk would like your wife to cover her head. Village women would talk freely to your wife. They readily take her inside the house. She may be able to give you more information about the genuine problems they are facing. If your wife agrees to sing or dance with the village women, it is more useful. Remember that the welfare of the citizens is your sole criterion for official existence. If you see a person in need, do not allow red-tapism to come in your way.
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Participate in their village sport competitions as Chief Guest or in any other capacity whenever you are invited.  Be liberal in your recommendation for sanction to the destitute, poor and the needy.  Be generous in distribution of relief materials at the time of natural calamity. People would expect prompt help at the time when they need it most. But take due concurrence of the PRIs. 

In short, be simple, loving and caring for your people and intermingle with them as a human being.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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6. HONESTY AND INTEGRITY    

The best form of public relation is your own character. If you are honest and are known or accepted as one who personally neither takes money or gifts or whose decisions are not influenced by such gifts then you will be respected and valued . Many of your own relations will try to influence you. They might even call you fool in the modern world for not accepting what is coming to you. Your family members might feel tempted to acquire things which they know they might not be able to acquire with your limited salaried income. Restrain them restrain yourself.
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Honesty and Integrity 
    

A reputation once lost can never be regained. Restrain yourself from accepting a non-permitted gift as such acceptance will not remain secret. Do avoid taking any gift from your sub-ordinates. Integrity involves avoiding misuse of official cars and other perquisites given to you officially specially telephones. Don t convert private journeys to official one in your T.A bill. It is better to lose money than to lose your reputation.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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7. Marriage / Anniversaries and Birthdays 
 

  

A person is extremely happy if you remember him on his birthday or wedding anniversary. It would be useful to keep a list of such important events of your close friends and colleagues, your senior bosses and juniors whom you are to interact very frequently. If you can afford it, do send them a bouquet. If not, send them a card well in advance on such occasions. If he/she is available on telephone do give a call. Make it a point to visit friends and colleagues at times of bereavement personal consolation has no substitute. It is very much appreciated if you can attend funeral or prayer meeting. In such occasions do not take your personal guards or paraphernalia of staff.
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Marriage/ Anniversary,Birthdays 

Make it a point to congratulate your colleague if his/her son or daughter does very well in examination. All parents feel very proud when their offspring make in life . You must share these pleasant moments. At new year, Deepawali, Dushera, Holi, Id and other important festive occasions, you will be getting a lot of cards from persons. Do try to acknowledge it will be gratifying to those senders. If you receive a marriage card and are unable to attend, do send a letter wishing the new couple a happy married life. You will be surprised to learn how many people retain such letters for a lifetime.
R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB 21  

4/28/2010

8.IMPORTANCE OF SPOKEN WORDS
As a civil servant, one must remember that every word he/she speaks is noted and quoted. 
When an individual comes to you with his/her petition, he has done so after deep contemplation and discussions with friends. When he/she hands over such application to you he/she is watching every action of yours, your eyes, your expressions and the nodding of your head. Remember that in his memory, your every word is going to be etched for the next 10-15 days, till his/her problem is solved.
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Your words will be dissected and analyzed did you ask a particular question?

why 

Remember that every unsympathetic or nasty word you say to a citizen in this democratic country will be quoted to your boss. So remember let your words be carefully balanced and planned at such times. Loose words should be avoided.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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9. IMPORTANCE OF BODY LANGUAGE
We are using body language all the time but unconsciously. Each gesture, each flicker of your eye, the frown on your face, the way you stand, the way you walk conveys to the person before you. We need to be conscious about these signs. 
On the movements of your body will largely depend whether you are able to inspire your men, give them courage or make them afraid. From the tone of your voice they will judge whether you yourself are afraid or brave.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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While facing a deputation, do not twiddle with your pen / pencil in your fingers or bite the pencil. Do not gulp glass of water as it will indicate your indecisiveness. Appear confident, convey confidence, speak in a measured manner and remember that a thousand eyes ate noticing you all the time.

Every person is a mixture of good and bad. Every person has certain admirable qualities as well as certain qualities which are not desirable as per the norms in- built in your personality. What is power?
Authority + Responsibility = Power Authority - Responsibility = De-position. Authority > Right to Command Power > Capacity to Command

So please develop that Capacity
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Your perception of these good elements of a person gets clouded if he has acted in a manner adverse to your interests . The bad elements of a person are not noticed if that person has been generally helpful to you. In this background of mental analysis, do you think you can ever judge a person independently and fairly?And if you cannot, then you have no right to judge others and your criticism might not be justified.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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10. AVOID CRITICISM ANALYSE IDEAS 
You may criticise a person s ideas and his thinking but that too only analytically and logically. You may disagree with the views of a person but you should not think the views are absurd. So before coming to a conclusion that you do not agree with the person s views, you analyse overtly and prove logically that your point of view is the correct one. A logical flow of ideas is acceptable to most persons.  A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still this principle is equally applicable for subordinates, bosses, colleagues, friends, family members and others.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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AVOID CRITICISM± ANALYSE IDEAS 
If you want respect for your views, you will have to give respect to the other s views. In the argument of a point, you should tend to show that while agreeing broadly with the views of the person you would like to suggest modifications based on facts. That person would most likely become mentally ready to accept your views. Remember that your views might also be wrong. You are not infallible. You might also have got wrong information on which you based your conclusions. Do not be personal in your remarks. Be only factual .  In this way you will find that you are able to mould the thinking of other persons.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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11. AVOID DOUBLE TALKS AND HYPOCRISY
You must have credibility for a good public image. What you say and promise, you must do or at least, be able to convince people that you are honestly trying to do. People understand and accept failures if these are the results of honest efforts. They also know that everything is not possible in this world. If civil servants act seriously and sincerely on public demands and adopt a sympathetic attitude, the citizens extend all cooperation. So , as a civil servant avoid hypocrisy and double talk. You should tell people that what you can do and what you can not. If you want to say NO , don t say YES
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AVOID DOUBLE TALKS AND HYPOCRISY
People will also understand that you are working within a framework of Rules and Regulations. So civil servants should avoid false promises and assurances. What people will not understand is why if a request was possible to be acceded to for A could not be similarly acceded to for B . To avoid double talk and hypocrisy you must essentially be helpful to all, otherwise all sorts of allegations in corruption, bribery, favouritism, nepotism etc would be made against you. Remember that once your image is established in this manner, it will continue till you retire. Even your reputation ( good or bad) will carry to your new posting before you reach there .
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AVOID DOUBLE TALKS AND HYPOCRISY
Always remember that hypocrisy and double talks might get you out of a difficult situation once or twice but after that it will not work. People will not trust what you say. The credibility of a civil servant is like the virginity of a young girl. Once lost, it is lost for ever. Without credibility, administration. no civil servant cannot work in

Remember that every political party, for the sake of its own image wants trustworthy and hard working officers and staff. If they know that you have worked dishonestly in one political regime, even though you might have favoured their own people they would know that you can also be dishonest in their regime.
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12. KEEPING A CLEAN PRIVATE LIFE 
We should remember that our public image also affected by the way we conduct our private lives. Nothing ever remains hidden from the public. Even wall can talk at least for the civil servants. Your driver, your personal orderly, closest friends all have a close circle and acquaintances in whom they normally confide. Personal staff attached to a civil servants is an extension of his personality. Their attitudes, manner of talking, integrity- all reflect on the personality of the civil servant. So keep your staff on the same wave length as yourself.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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KEEPING A CLEAN PRIVATE LIFE 
If you are unmarried, then there are bound to be a lot of rumours about your womanising whenever you talk politely to a young lady. This is the natural psychological reaction of all those who live in our conservative society and who have a lot of time to gossip. Do not unduly perturbed. If you are a bachelor, keep a safe distance from young women. If they come to see you it will be better if you already have some person in your chamber or your door kept open. Remember that even in modern India we still have conventional thinking.
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KEEPING A CLEAN PRIVATE LIFE 
People themselves are not ideal but they expect their seniors or socially superiors to be ideal. Bachelor officers are the easiest targets of suspicious conventionalists. So why give them chance? If you are married, always treat your wife with respect and courtesy in any public function in which you go with her. In India, people appreciate those civil servants who are religious. Even if you are not religious in nature, there is no harm in visiting temples, church, etc whenever you go out on your tours.

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13. RELATIONSHIP WITH POLITICAL LEADERS A mindset might have been created in the psyche of civil servants right from the beginning that political leaders and people s representatives are patently unreasonable and are always flouting rules while the civil servants are there to put them on the right track. An in depth examination reveals a different picture. 
They like any of us are human being with human feelings. They have come through electoral competition while civil servants have come through competitive tests.Both of them are to perform certain function to deliver the goods and services to the people.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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Relationship with political leaders
The role of people s representatives is to convert the inputs given to him of the people s minds and aspirations into official policies. The role of civil servants is to convert those inputs and give technical advice on the procedures to be followed within the existing laws for the execution of these policies. However, nowadays due to various reasons some of the people s representatives started exceeding their briefs and reluctant to heed the advice of civil servants. On the other hand some civil servants are also advising the political executives in the form acceptable to them ignoring the procedures. In this they are eroding their professional ethics.

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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Some suggestive steps you may try
There are several ways to avoid a wrong act without a confrontation: 
Find out such cases where you may have to confront and these may not be more than 5%. Treat the request of a political executive for a favour like you would treat a similar request if it comes from a very dear friend. Be positive. See if you can have it implemented. Do not condemn all requests coming from them with hostility. It would be advisable to mix with political executives socially. Why should civil servants and their spouses avoid mixing with the families of their political executives?
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Some suggestive steps you may try 
Don t you give social respect to your boss s wife? ( or nowadays even to your wife s boss?). Then why can t we do the same in the case of political bosses? Social mixing has its own advantages . It develops mutual respect and appreciation for each other s way of life informally. Remember that a political executive , like any other person, gets a feedback about a civil servant working with him/her from political friends, citizens and other sources. You must understand quickly as a civil servant , the persons who are the political enemies and political friends of your political executives. Be careful when you speak to him/her about them.
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Some suggestive steps you may try 
If he/she wants to talk to you on a file or matter, do so immediately. He/ she must not get the impression that you are ignoring him/her. Their personal staff should not be ignored. These are the persons who can help you in an emergency. Try to avoid talking ill about your political executive or about his/her policies. There are enough scope for you to discuss with him/her inside room. Never criticise him/her personally, even though you may disagree with him/her on some issue totally. Someone could be carrying tales on these. Talk to him/her freely if you sitting near him/her in the car or sometimes even on the dais.
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Some suggestive steps you may try 
If your political executive has any personal problem which you can get sorted out with the help of your colleague sitting in another organisation/ office , do help out on those issues. Basically treat them like friends. If he/she is older than you in age, treat him/her like an elder brother/ sister. Accord him/her all the courtesy that are his/her due without being servile. Remember that every political executive has his/her team of supporters some of whom are of intellectually alive as well as some are dull and dogmatic. Try to identify people who give intellectual support to him/her and discuss with them issues in which you feel the political executive has taken a palpably wrong view.
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Some suggestive steps you may try 
Never force your view point in an irrational manner.

or illogical 

You will find that there are only 5% political executives who would be taking deliberately a wrong view. Hence why will you fight when you can avoid it? Be careful about office noting on files. These tend to be read by every assistants in the office even your own peon. Avoid personal comments or abusing terms on the files. If you hear that your political executive has said something against you, do go and tell him/her that this is what you have heard. Give your part of the story and then leave it to him/her.
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14. BE INNOVATIVE AND FRESH
People who are innovative in their approach are liked in this world. People prefer civil servants who do something new and away from the beaten track. If a problem persists for a long time it is the indication of the fact that normal methods of sorting it out have failed. So in such cases adopt a fresh approach. Civil servants are expected to have more energy both physical and mental. They should be willing to tackle a problem with boldness and initiatives. They must live up to these expectations. Search out the areas of administration with which you are not satisfied or you are not getting regular feedback or the public are unhappy. R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of 42 4/28/2010
WB

Be innovative and fresh 
Do not merely be complacent with the manner of things as they are going on. Try to improve them, try to change them. Try to apply the 5% formula in your tenure. If you happen to be boss yourself, then give full freedom to your subordinates to experiment with new ideas. Encourage them for innovative thinking. Identify how your subordinates can solve a problem. Then lead them to do so. Only a person who is innovative can become a leader and inspire confidence in his/her team. This is true of generals in the army as well as civil servants.  The leaders do not do different work, they do it differently
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15.PROMPT DISPOSAL OF WORKS
The promptness with which you dispose of your work determines your public image. Each paper is important one for the individual who has sent it or about whom it is. He/she is waiting for your decisions. The paper might also contain an important information which may affect your working or may be vital for the organisation. Early disposal of files will also eliminate chances of corruption. Remember that your work accumulates in geometrical progression psychologically. Delays generates tension all around.
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Prompt disposal of works
Try to avoid the habit of putting files aside for consideration for the next day. The next day will rarely come. Every individual day carries important problems for the day and so previous day s importance is lost. If there are files you want to study, then it is better to go to an isolated place unknown to your visitors and peruse those files. Never sign on a file before reading it. Remember that as soon as you sign or write something on the file you take on the responsibility for the decisions on the file. It is a bad boss who blames his subordinates or who shirks taking responsibility.
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16. FOR A FULL AND TROUBLE FREE CAREER 
Do your job efficiently and effectively. Lead a simple life; avoid expensive habits. Live within your means. Do not look into another man s plate and advise your family members too not to do so. Do not feel under pressure to favour family, relatives and friends. Spend quality time with your family. Be open and straight forward in your dealings. Keep your mind active.  Pick up an inexpensive and preferably outdoor hobby ( e.g. games, gardening )
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For a full & trouble free career 
Avoid gossiping. Avoid club activities such as playing cards, particularly with members of the public with whom you have regulatory dealings. Think before developing personal relationship with people you come across in the course of your official works. Avoid taking gifts from them. Find a permissible source of additional income. Find seniors to act as your adviser/ mentor in personal matters. Be honest and appear to be honest.
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For a trouble free career 
    

Avoid touring an area in connection with your personal work as it leads to losing your credibility. Avoid giving lifts in your official vehicle to the local bigwigs and controversial persons. Avoid taking politicians in your official vehicle while dealing with works relating to Law & order . Avoid accompanying VIPs frequently on their tours, unless the Govt instructions clearly require you to do so. Try to halt overnight in the area. Halting at a village enables you to give undivided attention and to have real life situation. Avoid accepting the hospitality of a local person, particularly of politician and local bigwigs, as it leads to misunderstandings.
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Try to tour all parts of your jurisdiction with reasonable periodicity. Try to take a minimum officers with you while on tour.This builds the team spirit, improves the quality and speed of the delivery system and enhances image of administration. While on tour declare yourself as a Vegetarian even if you are not. Keep a clear agenda for your tour. Allocate time for each of the items. You are there to manage turbulent situation. Crisis is inevitable. The only thing that matters is how you deal with it when it comes. Announce no spot decision at all if it concerns a dispute. Touring should not be fault finding exercise.
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Making decisions  

   

Avoid making decisions on matters that don't need decisions. If it is not necessary to decide, it is necessary not to decide. Learning+ Experience= Knowledge, Knowledge +Experience= Wisdom, Wisdom +Experience= Judgment, And Judgment + Experience= Discrimination. Taking decisions, Leaders are to discriminate.
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17. SOME GOLDEN WORDS FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT MANAGERS The best method of overcoming obstacles is the team method One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness Men are like steel. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth Achieving good performance for most people is a journey not a destination As a manager the important thing is not what happens when you are there but what happens when you are not there
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Some more words
Action without delay is the secret of efficiency. When rules are silent, follow the path which you think more beneficial to the society. You can get round rules by modifying the proposal to suit the rules. Motivate officials in taking up e-Governance initiatives for increasing efficiency and transparency. Keep the following files on personal affairs: Service related file/ Income tax file/ Provident Fund file/ Insurance file/ Property return file/ electricity bills/ Certificate files/ purchase vouchers file/ T.A bill register , etc.
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Lessons for civil servants 
Corporate

lessons  Attitude is everything  Learn from Nature  Something bothers you?  Life on the train  A reality  Management funda!!

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R.K.Maiti, Joint Secretary, P&RD Dept, Govt of WB

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Let us conclude

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Thank you for your patience. patience. Go forth and embrace your future with open arms, and pursue enthusiastically your own life journey of discovery!
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