Telemedicine Project To Elders’ Club: Among 19 Ideas That Touched Lives


By Ankita Upadhyay        

From using high-speed wireless systems to provide tele-medicine to villagers in a remote tribal hamlet in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district to launching a micro-irrigation project in Odisha’s Maoist-affected Malkangiri, from a start-up incubator in Bastar to a club for the elderly in Jharkhand’s Jamtara.

Each of the 19 winners of The Indian Express Excellence in Governance Awards for 2020 and 2021, which were presented in New Delhi on Tuesday, exemplified a basic tenet — that good governance is simply about an idea that touches the lives of the common woman and man.

 Union Home Minister Amit Shah, The Indian Express Group Chairman and Managing Director Viveck Goenka, Executive Director Anant Goenka, A S Rajgopal of NxtGen, Vikram Shroff of UPL and other partners with winners of The Indian Express Excellence in Governance Awards in New Delhi Tuesday. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

The awards, given away by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, celebrated excellence in administration across categories such as Agriculture, Disaster Management, E-Governance, Energy, Gender & Inclusion, Healthcare, Implementation of Central Schemes, Innovative Education, Innovative Schemes, MSME, Public Amenities, Skill Development, Social Welfare, Start-up & Innovations, Sustainability, Swachhata, Water.

Among the winners was Krishnanunni H, District Collector of Erode in Tamil Nadu, who won the award under the Healthcare category for a simple idea that connected a remote tribal hamlet to the nearest healthcare facility using a 5 GHz wireless system. Talking about the project, called Punnagai or ‘Smile; in Tamil, Collector Krishnanunni told The Indian Express, “We started with a remote tribal village called Kathirimalai in Erode, The nearest health centre is 30-40 kilometres away so we decided to start a tele-health facility at a school in the hamlet using 100 Mbps uninterrupted WiFi.”

District Collector of Balangir in Odisha, Chanchal Rana who won the award in the Gender & Inclusion Category said that in July 2020, the district administration launched ‘Sweekruti’, a project aimed at skilling the transgender community and providing them with sustainable livelihood opportunities.

“There are several programmes that dole out benefits to the community, but these schemes don’t recognise them as people who can contribute. Whether it is to run parking lots or drive battery-operated vehicles as sanitation workers, the project has helped the transgender community become a part of the workforce,” she said.

 The winners were selected from among 400 entries that poured in from 182 districts across 29 states.

Deputy Commissioner, Jamtara, Faiz Aq Ahmed Mumtaz won two awards — in the ‘Social Welfare’ category for starting a club for the elderly, and in the ‘Innovative Schemes’ category for starting a library in each of the panchayats of the district.

On the club for the elderly, he said, “The idea behind the project was that senior citizens often deal with loneliness, depression and anxiety. The project was conceived when we came across elders who were physically fit but battling depression, with many of them dealing with post-Covid symptoms. So I thought, why not provide them a space where they can get involved in recreational activities and socialise among themselves and age with dignity.”

The Jury Special award was given to Divya S Iyer, District Collector, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, for a plan that regulated and streamlined the queue of devotees to the hill shrine of Sabarimala.

The winners were selected from among 400 entries that poured in from 182 districts across 29 states. PWC, the knowledge partner for the awards, conducted a thorough check on each of the schemes, measuring the impact of the project on the public and on sustainability, among other parameters. The shortlist was then verified by field reports by the Indian Express’s team of reporters and editors.

The detailed reports on each of the projects, submitted by the DMs, were screened and the final winners were chosen by a jury headed by former Chief Justice Justice of India R M Lodha. The other jury members are Wajahat Habibullah, former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities and the first Chief Information Commissioner of India; Nirupama Rao, India’s Foreign Secretary from 2009 to 2011 who had also been India’s Ambassador to the United States, China and the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka; K M Chandrasekhar, former Cabinet Secretary; and Amarjeet Sinha, member, Public Enterprises Selection Board.

—With inputs from Abhinaya Harigovind and Arnabjit Sur.

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