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Anil Swarup - A man of determination

Two years back in 2014, when Coal scam was one of those scams, which set whole system’s credibility under question, nobody wanted to bear the brunt of coal scam.

New Government was formed, expectation of countrymen was very high. Supreme Court already cancelled the 200+ coal block allocations which made over two decades.

That time very few people who came forward and worked hard to restore the countrymen trust in Government.

Mr. Anil Swarup was one of them who spent his days and nights with his colleagues in the ministry and executed the re-allocation of mines successfully and brought people faith again in Coal Ministry.

Mr. Anil Swarup joined as Secretary Coal Ministry in October 2014, when ministry was struggling with charges of scams and espionage. With the use of e-Governance in Coal ministry he was able to automate the manual auction and allocation processes. Through e-auction he was able to control corruption and provided a work around to allocate the mines to the right candidates.

Before joining coal ministry, he was Director General of labour welfare in the "Labour Ministry”. He has also headed some key government projects, in which Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana was conceptualized and executed by him. Now in every state this scheme is implemented and benefitted millions of poor people from rickshaw puller to domestic worker.

Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana was not just accepted and executed by all states in country though 7 to 8 different countries shown their interest in this scheme and taken lessons from Government of India to implement it for their people.

He is country’s one of the finest bureaucrat who is known for his excellent work.

Here are few excerpts from our discussion with him, which definitely inspire you, how even in adverse situation you can make a difference.

How’s been your overall experience working as Secretary to the Coal Ministry? How difficult was it for you to play a key role in re-establishing trust on the government Coalgate.

This was most challenging assignment of my career. However, it was most enjoyable one as well. This was primarily on account of an outstanding team that I was blessed with. It was indeed difficult in the beginning to re-establish the trust within the Ministry because there was initially some reluctance to commit on the files. However, over a period of time, this trust was built through sustained interaction with the officers.

You tried to make Coal Industry transparent and corruption free, by introducing e-Governance in place. Did you face any agitation or political pressure incurred by Contractors lobby? How you handled this?

Fortunately, there was neither any agitation nor political pressure while carrying out the auction of coal blocks. I was arguably on the hottest seat in the country when I took over as Coal Secretary. However, I did not get a single call from any one to help anyone.

How was your journey to become IAS?

My father had meticulously planned my childhood and educational career with a single objective of making me an IAS Officer. It was his planning and commitment to this cause that resulted in my getting into the service.

Coal Ministry still does not see much response from market during auction. Is it due to slow economy of change in Coal Ministry working style?

The tepid response to fourth round of coal block auction was on account of increased supply of coal. Some outstanding work done by Coal India leading to unprecedented increase in coal production.

We have enough coal mines in our country but still power sector is struggling to meet the country’s power requirement? Please share your thoughts on this.

The problem in the power sector does not relate to either capacity or capability to generate power. The problem is on account of inability of state level distribution companies who do not have requisite financial wherewithal to purchase power. An attempt is being made to tackle this situation through UDAY.

Sometime back you mentioned government agencies itself create an “inhibiting environment” that impacts “quick and effective decision on make”. What’s your opinion on Mr. H.C. Gupta (former Coal Secretary) arrest? He said recently he doesn’t have enough money to hire a lawyer and his mates says he is “Sadhu” kind of person.

Mr. H.C. Gupta, to my knowledge, has not been arrested so far. He is rated as one of the finest officers in the service with absolutely above board credentials. However, as the case is subjudice, I would not like to offer my comments on this specific case.

Do you think life was much easier when you were DM in beginning of your career or now while managing a prestigious Ministry? How’s your professional journey.

Life is actually what you make of it. Difficult situations are a part of civil service career. I have personally enjoyed managing these challenging situations and, with the grace of God, have been able to overcome these challenges.

Best and worst moment of your life which inspired/motivated you.

The best moment of my life was when I interacted with an old lady in a hospital who was undergoing free treatment in a hospital under “Rashtriya Swasth Bima Yojana”, a smartcard based cashless health insurance scheme that was visualized, conceptualized, articulated by me. It was exhilarating moment when she commented that when she will meet the Almighty, she would convey to him how wonderful the scheme was. The worst moment of my life was when I was unable to protect couple of honest officers from being criminally prosecuted, though in my opinion, they had committed no fault.

What would you advice to youth, how they can be self-dependent and can lead their life in right direction and can contribute for the betterment of country. Today due to reservation, cast based politics and corruption youths are unhappy and demotivated. To achieve their dreams they follow wrong practices.

My advice to young Indians on this would be to remain absolutely focused on the task at hand. Believe in Karma and not bother about results. I would also suggest that they should focus on changing and improving themselves rather attempting to improve the world around them. And, finally, as the Mahatama said, attempt to become the change they want to see in the world.

How you balance your personal and professional life? What’s your family contribution to it? Did they support you throughout your journey?

Without enormous sacrifice of the family, I would not have been where I am today. There were occasions when on account of professional commitments, adequate attention could not be given to personal life. However, this was never misconstrued. The entire family stood by me all through the journey.