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Usha Sharma: The no-nonsense ‘Marathon’ Chief Secretary!
Jaipur: It has been one year on January 31, since senior IAS officer Usha Sharma took over as the Chief Secretary of the State. This one year has been full of accomplishments and in this time frame, the biggest accomplishment has been implementing the e-filing system in State work. Over one decade, while serving the Government of India, she has observed and experienced, firsthand, the benefits of efiling and paperless work. Thus, as soon as she took over the reins of administration in Rajasthan, she decided to enforce this system and for one year, she was completely engrossed in it. She chaired several meetings with Secretaries and other officers during which, she came across objections too. However, finally, on January 1, 2023, an official order was issued in the entire Secretariat to adopt e-filing. And now, within one month, almost 80 percent of the work of the Secretariat is being conducted through efiling, although practical problems are being faced in enforcing e-filing at the ministerial level and in the Finance Department. On the other hand, CS has taken it upon herself to get the system instilled in the offices of District Collectors and other important offices.
According to knowledgeable sources, now Rajasthan has been included in the handful of Indian states where efiling system is in use. Through this initiative, Usha Sharma has definitely added a golden chapter to the administrative history of the State for which, she will be remembered for a long time. Sharma has also worked to keep the administration ‘smart and swift’. During the tenure of a few former Chief Secretaries, lacunae, lackadaisical work ethics, and irresponsible behaviour in administrative work were observed. In fact, the Secretaries had started taking CS’s office ‘taken for granted’. To instill discipline, Sharma first ensured that officers reach their designated offices on time, and spend time in their offices. In the first few months, Sharma even had to give a verbal reminder to some senior officers. To lead by example, she reached office right at 9:30 AM every day!
She also brought forward a new work culture of holding meetings through video conferencing (VC) and due to this, she stays in regular contact with Secretaries and keeps a constant vigil on their work. Through this monitoring and followup of works of various departments, Sharma has ensured her grip on the State work. But perhaps what is the most important aspect of Sharma’s unrelenting work commitment is that it has made other officers’ vigil, sincere and swift in their respective works. Due to these meetings, inter-departmental issues and problems are also being resolved quickly and easily. In fact, it is Usha Sharma, who has started the system of regular close contact with District Collectors. She holds 2-3 meetings with District Collectors through VC every month and thus, she knows firsthand what work is being done at what pace in the field. Through this, even the Collectors have started being vigilant and serious towards their districts.
Notably, Usha Sharma enjoys the complete trust and faith of CM Ashok Gehlot. CM surprised everyone when he reached Sharma’s chambers in May 17 and also gave a message to the State Bureaucracy on Usha Sharma’s importance. In response, Sharma has been working tirelessly, day and night, to keep CM’s trust in her, intact. Be it the implementation of budget announcements, or enforcing party manifesto, CS is carrying out her responsibilities with immense commitment. When Umesh Mishra became DGP, Usha Sharma herself went to PHQ to congratulate him. This sowed the seeds of a new tradition that was immensely praised in bureaucratic and political circles. Interestingly, in the entire year, she has taken a leave only once. She has attended her office 300 days in 365 days of the past year. She comes to the office on SaturdaySunday and government holidays as well! Every day for Usha Sharma is a ‘meeting day’ and on average, she has chaired eight meetings per day, according to an estimate, she has chaired two and a half thousand meetings in one year! Thus, Usha Sharma has created a record of sorts and it wouldn’t be wrong to term her the ‘Marathon CS’!