|Jitendra Singh Soni, IAS|
IT’S named Charan Paduka Scheme. Target? To provide shoes to the underprivileged school children. And the man who began this innovative way of empowering the under-privileged is a 2010 batch IAS — Jitendra Kumar Soni, the former district collector of Jalore, Rajasthan. Launched in January this year, the scheme has now been adapted by…the government of Rajasthan with a direction to the collectors of all 33 districts of the state to replicate the scheme, according to reports published in various local and national newspapers.
Back in January, India’s leading newspaper The Times of India carried an article titled, "Touched by sight of barefoot school kids, Jalore collector takes up cause”. In the following month, Sunil Kumar Sharma, Rajasthan government’s joint secretary in charge of primary education, issued a formal order asking all district collectors to follow this scheme of distributing free shoes to underprivileged school children.
Son of a watchmaker, Soni was brought up in a humble background in Dhanasar village in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh. After completing his post-graduation in political science, he passed the civil services examination and became an IAS. He was allotted the home cadre and became assistant collector in Pali district. He also served as a sub-divisional officer in Sirohi and then collector in Jalore. He is currently district collector and district magistrate in Jhalawar. Soni is 34 years old.
Soni’s idea of distributing free shoes to the under-privileged children came when he saw a number of kids coming barefoot to schools during the winter month of December. He then asked the Gram Panchayats to collect information on the number of kids without shoes. The officer connected a few donors and bought non-branded shoes costing about Rs 200 per pair.
BoI has decided to highlight Soni’s work as it would be an inspiration for many more young officers to give back something meaningful to the society. Dear reader, do you have any example of officers, across services, executing an idea as innovative as Charan Paduka? if you know, do write about them in the comment boxes below.