Mr. Rajiv Chawla, an IAS officer of 1987 batch, is the Principal Secretary, Department of Horticulture and Sericulture, Government of Karnataka. For the last 30 years, he has been serving the state government without a single stint at the center. Essentially calling himself a technology person, he has combined his administrative skills and technology prowess to bring about e-governance revolution in the country. He initiated the digitization of land record systems in Karnataka and laid the foundations of the project "Bhoomi". He received the Prime Minister's award for excellence in civil services in 2007 for the project. In 2007, IIT Kanpur conferred upon him the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his significant contributions.
Mr. Chawla received his B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur in 1984. He then prepared for civil services exams and cleared the same in 1987. Joining the Karnataka cadre as an IAS officer, Mr. Chawla has held various positions in different departments including Managing Director, Karnataka Water Supply and Drainage Board (June 2013-Aug 2014); Principal Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises; Metropolitan Commissioner, Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority; Principal Secretary, Department of Revenue.
Mr. Chawla likes to call himself an 'IAS engineer' rather than an 'IAS officer', "I am essentially a technology person, the IAS is incidental." He is most known for laying foundations of the project BHOOMI, digitized land record systems in Karnataka, that he initiated at the time when digital revolution was still a nascent concept in India. He wanted to harness the power of technology to weed out corruption in land holdings in the state. Then the revenue secretary, Mr. Chawla employed a young workforce to collect data and help compile the state's first digitized land records. By 2003, Bhoomi had computerized records of 177 talukas of the state. "We realized that the weak can only be helped by the strong and took a leaf out of ITC's e-choupal book." In 2007, he was honored with the Prime Minister's Award for excellence in civil services for his pathbreaking project. He feels proud that every farmer in the state today is aware of what Bhoomi is.
He didn't stop there. To expand the reach of the project, he created Urban Property Ownership Records (UPOR) for which he even turned down a position in the Centre's e-governance initiative. In late 2009, UPOR was tried out in four towns, including Mysore, and the results were encouraging. He wanted to dig into urban property records in Bangalore, a large share of which is estimated to be illegal. However, he was transferred to the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority as the Metropolitan Commissioner. Later, he had short stints with other departments before assuming his current role as a principal secretary with the state Department of Horticulture and Sericulture.