Andhra schoolgirls turn govt officials for a day in Anantapur district

Sixteen-year-old Sravani, who took charge as District Collector, signed a file, granting Rs 25,000 as compensation to a minor victim in an SC/ST atrocity case.
Intermediate student Sravani in the Anantapur District Collectors office
Intermediate student Sravani in the Anantapur District Collectors office
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Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh marked the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child in a unique and delightful way this year. On Sunday, many young girls in the district turned government officers for a day, catching a close glimpse into the functioning of the government and the work of civil servants. The students took up responsibilities for posts ranging from village and mandal level officers to Municipal Commissioners and District Collector, for one day. 

Anantapur District Collector Gandham Chandrudu’s novel initiative, called ‘Balike Bhavishyat’ (the girl child is the future), was intended to instil confidence among young girls. 

The girls who were part of the programme, took charge as various department heads, including Mandal Revenue Officers, Mandal Education Officers, Revenue Divisional Officers and heads of  Sericulture Department, District Sports Authority and other offices at different levels across Anantapur district.  

The student officers visited different places and inspected public works, just like a regular officer in the district would have done. District Collector Gandham Chandrudu issued orders to all department officials to accommodate the one-day officers at their respective offices from 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday.

Anantapur District Collector Gandham Chandrudu with the girls who took charge as government officers

The one-day officers and their vision

Sixteen-year-old Sravani took charge as Collector and District Magistrate of Anantapur from Gandham Chandrudu. Sravani, a first-year intermediate student, signed on two files — one granting a financial compensation of Rs 25,000 to a minor victim in an SC/ST Atrocity case, and another order that directs that no official phone calls must be made to female employees of government offices between 8 pm and 8 am.

Sravani’s father is a farmer, while her mother is a daily wage worker. Speaking to reporters on taking charge as Collector, Sravani, who studies at Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya in Garladinne, said, “I am looking to solve problems related to road safety, child rights and education. I am concerned about animal welfare in rural areas, and waste management.” 

Sravani addressing reporters at the Collectorate

Madhusri, who took charge as Joint Collector, said, “The groundnut crop has been destroyed because of heavy rains. I would like to provide compensation to farmers for their losses.”

Madhusri visited a government site in Anantapur rural mandal, which will be distributed as part of a housing scheme for the poor. She inquired about the status of the scheme and gave suggestions to the local officials.

Joint Collector for the day Madhusri inspecting a government site  

Chinmayi, who took charge as Anantapur Municipal Commissioner, made visits to observe the condition of roads in the city, along with one-day Collector Sravani.

Girls must be encouraged for women's representation 

Speaking about the intent behind the initiative, Collector Gandham Chandrudu said that young girls need to be encouraged to work towards “taking their seat at higher tables”. 

“In every field, women must have equal space, whether in administrative positions, politics, corporate firms, or as scientists. Women must be represented according to their proportion in the population. For that to happen, steps need to be taken from the time they are young girls,” he said. 

The officials ensured that the usual protocol was firmly maintained during these visits and inspections. The ‘officers for a day’ were allowed to see files and take decisions (while being advised by women working at various NGOs that have a proven track record), and these decisions will be implemented.

The girls were guided through the day by the officers concerned, from whom they took charge. The respective officers will mentor the girls for the next 10 to 15 years to guide them in their education, the Collector said.

Watch: Anantapur schoolgirls turn government officials for a day

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