Until 2018, Ankita Lokesh Borkar, a resident of Gadchiroli, worked in a rice mill in her small village of Armori. Her monthly salary was just Rs 5,000, she recalls.
Today, however, her life looks different. The 26-year-old is now working as a nursing manager in a healthcare centre in Hyderabad and now earns up to Rs 40,000 every month.
Her transformation has also helped her support her family and afford higher studies in medicine. All this, she says, was made possible due to the ‘Police Dadalora Khidki’, or the one window system for all public services in the district.
“I just filled out an employment form and was sent for training in nursing,” Ankita recalls. “I joined LifeCircle Health Services in Hyderabad last October. Whatever I am today is because of the police and the [state] government. Now I even support my family financially.”
Last year, when her mother suffered a cardiac arrest, Ankita managed all treatment expenses worth Rs 1 lakh on her own. Two months ago when her father, who does labour work, had a paralysis attack, she looked after him.
“I am the only earning member of my family. My father and mother are both healthy now. With that one opportunity, my life, my personality, and my financial situation, everything changed. I even speak English now. This Friday, I am getting engaged,” she smiles.
A single window for all government schemes
Like Ankita, over 8,000 people from tribal communities in the district have been given employment opportunities in the past two years. And the man who has helped make this possible is former Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police (SP) Ankit Goyal.
In January 2021, he launched the Police Dadalora Khidki, which has helped over 2.7 lakh people in the remote and Naxal-affected areas of the Gadchiroli district. The initiative was started with the aim to bridge the gap between government schemes and tribal people residing in remote pockets of the district.
Goyal tells The Better India, “In Gadchiroli, there are a lot of areas that are untouched in terms of not only road infrastructure but also in government welfare schemes. This is because of several issues including road connectivity, mobile connectivity, less penetration of the government departments in the remote areas.”
“We know police have the maximum penetration because we have outposts in the deepest areas. We coordinated with the district collector and started using the police outposts as the service delivery centre for all government schemes,” says the 38-year-old.
After two years at Gadchiroli, Goyal is currently serving as SP, Pune (rural). The initiative has been completely institutionalised and the new SP, Neelotpal, has been leading it since.
— Ankit Goyal (@ankitgoyal_ips) December 18, 2022
A win-win for all
The single window system expands services to all public services, including employment opportunities for tribal youth, making caste certificates, fixing Aadhaar card-related issues, opening bank accounts, ensuring pension for widows, welfare cards for persons with disabilities, and Ayushman health cards with the help of related government departments.
This is possible through the coordinated efforts of police persons across 50 outposts located in the under-reached areas. These outposts act as a service delivery system where the police persons facilitate applications for all government schemes and then coordinate with the related department to ensure the schemes reach the people.
“People who were scared to reach the police are now lining up to avail different schemes. It feels really good to be able to help the public,” says Goyal. The monthly requests from tribal people have increased from 2,000 to 25,000 in the past two years.
Recalling the successful memories of the single window system, Goyal quotes his integrated approach to helping persons with disabilities.
“The government has so many schemes for them, but they remain inaccessible. We were able to make their unique disabilities card, pension cards, and discount card for travel — all in one day in one place. That gave us immense joy. Close to 2,000 such people were given benefits,” says Goyal.
Unlike regular haphazard and several rounds at the government departments, here people come only once with their appeal, informs Goyal. Police persons do regular follow-ups with respective departments on their behalf.
And to encourage police persons, Goyal started publishing monthly scorecards to award the best performer of the police department. The competition amongst all outposts increases the productivity of police persons, says Goyal. Later, the top three officers are awarded the community development officer of the month and year.
For his work of ‘Police Dadalora Khidki’, the IPS officer was awarded Arun Bongirwar Public Service Excellence Award 2021, FICCI Smart Policing Awards 2021, Dr SS Gadkari Memorial Award, Maharashtrian of the Year Awards 2022, the prestigious International Association of Chiefs of Police 2022, and the best unit in community policing award amongst all districts of the state.
Edited by Divya Sethu; All images: Ankit Goyal.