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Continuing with its long tradition of inviting scholars, prolific researchers, policy makers, and leading thinkers to share their experiences with a wider community, the office of Dean Research and Development, IIT Kanpur hosted yet another stimulating Institute Lecture Series on 12 June 2021 at 6 PM. The speaker for the event was Mr. Parameswaran Iyer, Global Lead for Strategic Initiatives in World Bank's Water Global Practice and former Secretary in the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India.
While welcoming the speaker, Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur, said, “This is indeed a right time to hear from Mr. Iyer about the implementation of a massive large-scale initiative of the government. This will not only motivate young students but researchers and scientists as well. He emphasized that unlike other countries scaling of any program is a challenge for India due to its large numbers but nonetheless the country has seen success with such transformative programs like Aadhar card.”
Mr. Parameswaran Iyer is largely credited with the successful implementation of the flagship Swachh Bharat Mission while serving as the Secretary to the Government of India at the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation from March 2016 until August 2020. During his talk titled ‘Implementing large scale transformations in India: Lessons for young professionals’, he highlighted the key challenges faced, strategies adopted, and results achieved while working towards the humongous task of declaring India Open Defecation Free (ODF) within a five-year period starting from 2014. The four challenges faced were Scalability, Speed, Stigmas and Sustainability. To overcome these challenges, all the stakeholders including school students, women, village panchayats, DMs, and several influential celebrities were brought together to deliver the change. Mr Iyer emphasized that for the success of any large-scale program four pillars are essential and these include Political Leadership, Public Financing, Partnerships and People’s Participation (jan andolan). He opined that the same four pillars can be applied to managing and overcoming the COVID pandemic crisis.
Towards the end of his talk, Mr. Parameswaran Iyer briefly spoke about his recently published book ‘Method in the Madness’ and shared extracts from the book. The book offers unique insights into his unconventional career choices. It has nuggets of wisdom for aspiring civil servants, youngsters, leaders, management professionals and everyone who has a fire in the belly to bring a change. The lecture ended with a stimulating discussion with the anchor for the event, Ms. Reema Mittal, and the audience.