Rajendra Bhatt, the collector/district magistrate of Bhilwara, Rajasthan | Image: ThePrint Team
Rajendra Bhatt, the collector/district magistrate of Bhilwara, Rajasthan | Image: ThePrint Team
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New Delhi: The ‘Bhilwara model’ has been so successful in curbing the spread of Covid-19 in a hotspot that the central government has asked states to replicate its mantra of “ruthless containment”. But Bhilwara’s 56-year-old collector/district magistrate, who was in charge of implementing the plan and has been credited with its conceptualisation, remained cautious about declaring victory just yet.

“I think we have to wait until 1 May to be sure that we’ve completely eliminated the virus,” Rajendra Bhatt told ThePrint.

“I want that three cycles of isolation, testing and quarantining should be complete before we can claim victory.”

The textile town of Bhilwara in Rajasthan had become one of the hotspots of the Covid-19 outbreak, registering 27 positive cases and two deaths.

But the strategy adopted by the district administration has ensured that Bhilwara has not registered any new Covid-19 cases in 10 days, and chief secretaries of all states are now seeking to emulate it.

Bhatt humbly claimed the success was no “rocket science”. “We got full cooperation from the state government. When we (at the district level) said that we need to seal the border, the government did it immediately — no questions asked,” he said.

“When we said we cannot let anyone enter the district or leave their homes within the district, the government did it immediately. The Epidemic Act was imposed immediately giving the DM all the powers to take over hospitals, hotels, etc. So, it was a joint effort,” he added.

But while Bhatt credits his superiors and subordinates for the “joint effort”, officials in Rajasthan, including those from Bhatt’s team, say he is a DM like no other.


Also read: This is the ‘Bhilwara model’ Modi govt is looking to use across India to fight Covid-19


‘Everyone followed his instructions’ 

A young IAS officer from Rajasthan said, “He has been promoted from the Rajasthan state service to the IAS… I would say he is way better than the direct recruits of the IAS.”

Collector/district magistrate is usually the second posting of an IAS officer’s career, so the average age for the post is 28-30 years. But being from the Rajasthan state service, Bhatt became DM decades into his career. He was promoted to the IAS in 2007, and is set to retire in the next four years.

In every state, the ratio of IAS officers recruited directly and those promoted from the state services is 2:1.

The young officer quoted above continued: “It felt like Bhilwara was preparing for this kind of an eventuality over the last year or more, since Bhatt became DM. His rapport with the SP, the police, the state government, the SDMs etc. was such that everyone followed his instructions to the T.”


Also read: Reporting from Bhilwara was scary as the enemy was invisible. It was a virus


Embedded in the system

From isolating the district to mapping the hotspots, conducting door-to-door screening and aggressive contact tracing, ramping up quarantine and isolation wards to readying a monitoring mechanism for rural areas — the instructions from the DM’s office were real-time and unambiguous, officers said.

“The fact that he has so many years of experience and he is so embedded in the system in the state helped,” said another IAS officer working under Bhatt. “He would give directions, and we would just follow, and everything went on smoothly.”

Bhatt acknowledged the officer’s comment about him being embedded in the system.

“I’ve worked in the cooperative service all my life… I know how the supply and demand works in the rural and urban parts of Rajasthan, so all that experience was very useful to me,” Bhatt said.

“Before announcing the complete curfew, we sent our people to dairies, surveyed how much milk each household is consuming,” he said. “So that when we imposed the curfew, all we had to do is deliver an average amount to each house… Again, it was no rocket science.”

While IAS officers selected through direct recruitment are known to have more exposure in terms of governance, Bhatt’s model of governance at the time of a pandemic is being adopted by officers across the country, said a Rajasthan service officer.

“It is a matter of pride for all state civil services and a reminder that ‘direct recruits’ and ‘promotees’ are ultimately just tags,” this officer said.


Also read: How Bhilwara is dealing with its coronavirus problem — Full details of the district’s plan


 

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17 Comments Share Your Views

17 COMMENTS

  1. Lets not give more credit and fame to this collector. Citizens of Bhilwara are getting angry over his Dictator like rules where he is not allowing even large industries to run inspite of bhilwara being in orange zone.
    Please do not give him more credits.
    People are very angry toward this kind of behavior towards bhilwara.
    Please forward this message as much as you can

  2. All the comments ridiculouing Tina dabi..I really don’t understand where she once took all the credit…or even little bit of credit…
    She has only given one interview in which she only talked about the technical aspects of bhilwara model…it’s not her fault that the media is obsessed with her… weather it’s her Marriage or her removing her last name…
    What was she supposed to do ..run around and mend others mistake…
    Cmon people….I know u guys hate feminism but this is just over the top stupidity..
    Like literally dragging someone else in mud and then taunting them for the stains..
    I mean not one comment I could see for the media who is obsessed with spiciness ..

  3. Superb administration n monitoring done bu Mr bhatt .as gentle n modest he is doesn’t take the credit on his shoulders .the fast track manner in wch he reacted on the very frst instance is praiseworthy .it ws a challenge n he accepted wth strong vision n effectiveness .

  4. He didn’t inquiry how this diseased spread from private Bangar hospital. he didn’t disclosed this fact to media & public. why did he hide because private hospital managed our Bhatt Saheb. Why did not take action against Bagar private hospital for hiding information about this corona. Bangar Private hospital have very strong relation with our Loksabha speaker Om Birla & Ex minister of rajasthan Ram Lal Jat.

  5. thanks to media for bringing up this schievement else it would have gone unsung and unnoticed,lets look at the brighter side of beureaucracy and uphold the system through which these people work tirelessly.hats off sir to you and ur team

  6. I applaud the Good spirit ,spontaneous action and incredible achievement of Mr Bhatt , Collector and District Magistrate of Bhilwara to save precious lives .What more can a Good Samaritan do at a time of a pandemic than a meritorious execution of his duties ! May God bless Mr Bhatt and his team !

  7. respect to IAS officers” experience based guidance naturally leads to good desired results. Most important is this officer has been respected by the govt. machinery. Otherwise, all his experience and guidances and instructiions would have gone futile as it happens in delhi, tamilnadu where political parties colour IAS officers according to their communal ideologies.

  8. We are grateful to you, sir, for your wisdom,courage and determination. We need more administrators like you! BRAVO!

  9. Rare breed. Maturity written all over. No surprise , bcz for success involvement ,commitment, matters more than knowledge and intellect.

  10. Sneaky article. Couplle of things to note: Promotes Rajendra Bhatt as his PR while he sings praises of the govt. Mentions his impending retirement so it can be extended. Sows the seed of discontent by mentioning how good PCS promoted ones are above the IAS direct recruits. Fact of the matter is the PCS promoted ones are way more corrupt than IAS officers. They serve the purpose of local political leaders and heavy weights to seek promotion to IAS level.

  11. Congratulations to Sh. Bhatt and his team for ensuring safety of people of his Distt. He has utilised his experience and acted in time to attend the situation.

  12. I feel he should supervise all hotspots in the country even though it is too much to expect him, so that glaring weaknesses in the system r exposed and public is safe

  13. The model is already successful enough to be adopted.. This should not be left to individual decisions.. All those in charge must be ORDERED to adopt this.

  14. The essence of the issue as the DM Bhatt himself is COOPERATION.
    When will our Teachers and parents start imbibing this as a basic survival tool on Earth I wonder!.

  15. Experience is always a better teacher.Hats off to Mr,Bhatt ,the author of the Bhilwara Model for fighting
    the this human disaster.Glad that he has been able to muster the support of those around him for this task.
    The strategy of three cycles of Isolation.testing and quarantining of the potential carriers of the virus
    has clearly seen as the focal point for containment of the virus.
    Glad that he is shy of claiming the hen before the eggs are hatched.Good model to emulate with
    suitable support facilities for follow up.

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