O. P. Choudhary: In The Power, On The move!
Early Life Struggles: I am basically from Biyang village, Raigarh District. I did my entire schooling from there. My father had passed away when I was only 8 years old, so that was an emotional struggle to deal with. I later moved to Bhilai to do my graduation from Kalyan College. I used to prepare for my IAS exams, while taking tuitions on the side to bear my expenses of living in the city. On the way many people try to detract you but the key is to keep on going with a strong head towards your goal.
Deciding Factor To Take Up IAS: I used to go to the government offices to collect my father’s pension and used to witness the laid back attitude of the officials, and would get frustrated. Then I decided that, I will become a part of this system to improve it, as much as I can.
Glimpse Into Personal Life: In 2009, I was invited to the medical college as the chief guest, where I met my wife. It all started from there and we had a courtship period of 4 years, before we got married. She is in the Indian Railway Service and has done her MBBS, UPSC and APO in Railway Workshop. And currently, my family resides in Raigarh.
13-Year Work Timeline: My first karyakal was as a trainee in Korba, from where I moved on to becoming the SGM of Durg in 2006. In 2007, I became the CEO of Sarguja Zila Panchayat, before becoming the CEO of Zila Panchayat, Janjhgir-Chapa in 2008-09. During the period from 2009 to 2011, I was also the Municipal Commissioner of Raipur and from 2011 to 2013, I served as the Collector of Dantewada. I also got the opportunity to handle the Chief Minister’s Media between 2013-14. And from 2014 to 2016 I was transferred to Janjhgir- Chapa to serve as the collector before moving to Raipur again as the collector from 2016 to the present day.
Image & Perception Of The State: I think our state has been widely misrepresented on a national level as the Naxalite state or even as a tribal state. None of them is true as us citizens would know. As a matter of fact, only 80 kilometer square area is affected by the naxals. And the blame has to go on the media to a large extent as it is through the media that we have got the image of being a naxal state. The media needs to be very careful and must act responsibly while labeling the state loosely.
Motivational Speaking: I love motivating people through sharing my experiences with them. I go to almost every IAS academy that I am invited to and motivate the youth to clear the competitive exams. Over a period of 7 years I must have gone to various academies and would love to do it for as long as I can.
Landmark Projects: If I have to only highlight a few landmark projects, I would say
1) The complete makeover of Dantewada as an education hub was a great feat. We created a 150-acre education city to facilitate education for 5000 children.
2) RTE Pradarshni was also a major achievement as it successfully provided residential facilities to the poor. As 25% of the whole project was reserved for them.
3) Nalanda Parisar or the Oxy Reading Zone as it is popularly getting to be known is one of my newer and most innovative contributions to the state. It is a compound with thousands of trees and books. The idea is to provide people with a nice natural environment for reading.
4) Bapu Ki Kutiya, is another upcoming project, where we are coming up with 50 centers across the state to provide the senior citizens with a common place to bond with others of their age. I think this is the best gift that the elders have gotten from the state in recent times.
5) We have also come up with various CNG based petrol pumps to see that the carbon footprint of the state is in check and the pollution is in total control.
6) Under the project Ujjwala – People for Peepal, we have successfully planted over 11290 trees across the state of Chattissgarh.
Also, we have made sure that the newer college campuses are as green as possible and one amazing example is the AIIMS Raipur Campus.
Greatest Achievement: In 2012, when my interview was published in the Wall Street Journal, and I got the golden opportunity to present Dantewada as an education hub and not a naxal state. I was the Dantewada Collector at that time and it was a matter of immense pride for me.
Inspiration: I wouldn’t say that I have any particular role model as such, but I do take inspiration from many successful people. I read a lot of Swami Vivekananda’s work, that inspire me to go. Also, my mother and father have been great inspirations for me to go against all odds to emerge victorious.
Success Mantra: I can’t really say that there is any one thing in particular that goes into making someone successful but I think the power of positive thinking is supreme. Optimism works as a catalyst, to enable everything in life. If you can think it, it can happen. You just need to back it up with positivity and undying conviction.