Aziz Hafiz hails from Belgaum and is the son of Dr. F.A. Hafiz, a renowned doctor of Belgaum. He completed his schooling from St.Pauls high school and his Pre University from RLS and he did his Civil engineering from Gogte Institute of Technology. At the time when he was doing his masters in management, he was selected as a Gazetted Probationer in the Government of Karnataka and his journey as a Sarkari Babu began. Currently he is the Deputy Director, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, Government of Karnataka.
Aziz is a Sarkari babu with a difference and since in college he was known for quizzing, debating, dramatics, organizing fests – the first youth festivals of the city were his doings! He loves sports, has a wide range of interests, virtually anything and everything!
He has authored a book “The Rising Sun Shall Set….” which is set in the Belgaum fort, and is a piece of poetry, with a philosophical outlook. His wife is very good painter and this also inspires him in his work.
He has worked in districts of Raichur, Bellary, Udupi, Bangalore Rural & in Bangalore City. He is also handling a project for the comprehensive computerization of the Public Distribution System as its Chief Informatics Officer (CIO). In addition, he was also Joint Director, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs & Additional Director, Procurement & Distribution. He is an authority on the Public Distribution System, Petroleum products, and Consumer affairs.
One of the tasks he is handling today may well change the way Government functions. He, as the CIO of a unique project, has collected the biometrics of over nearly 4.5 crore people which will be the basis of the unique identity for each person. In fact the UID (unique Identity card) that is being talked about is nothing but what he has done. His work is apparently being hijacked by more well known persons!!
What this will mean is – in future you can go to a kiosk and by giving your biometrics, get whatever document you want from the Government, avoiding all the touts, the delays, the transactions…… Imagine even if it happens 5 years from now, we would have taken tremendous strides towards a better government, where you would get what is meant for you, rather than someone else making merry. We may even have voting with biometrics you never know!
And a person from Belgaum would have been the reason for its success.
His job profile is a story in multi-tasking – while managing the entire Public distribution system ( the rationing system ) in Karnataka, covering 1.25 crore families, handling 2.25 lakh Metric tons of food grains & 50,000 kilolitres of kerosene oil every month, with an annual subsidy of over Rs.1500 crore and an annual turnover of over Rs 5000 crore; Managing logistics, warehousing, transportation, retailing – with a network of over 500 wholesale & 25,000 retail outlets; Launching of new products; piloting policy changes, crisis management; enforcement of laws, raids, legal processes; Managing the minimum support price operations for agricultural produce for farmers, monitoring the supply & distribution of petroleum products; maintenance of civil supplies; besides monitoring of market prices; Redressal of public grievances, consumer education & consumer guidance.
1. Why Sarkari Babu, you could have been in any private company and most probably by this time on a very good position and good booty.
Aziz —> I had this penchant for the IAS in school, and even in my engineering days, everyone knew that I had my eyes set there. I am in a very enviable place, which is powerful to say the least & although I don’t have the booty, I am fairly content.
2. Who or what inspired you to join the KAS?
Aziz —> The state services were an after-day thought, since I didn’t make it to the Civil services. The Civil services were a fascination from school days, when we had DCs coming as chief guests and everyone looking up to them with awe…. maybe that caught my attention at an early age.
3. Your father is a very well renowned doctor; didn’t he want you also to be one?
Aziz —> 3 of my brothers are doctors and very dedicated at that. I would see them reading those huge books and getting up at odd hours whenever there was a patient who came in an emergency. I guess in school, I thought this wasn’t what I wanted to do. Fortunately, people at home let me have my say early in life…. so I chose what I wanted to do. My father is 88 and takes pride when he hears from people about how I’ve touched their lives.
4. You are handling a department which at this hour is the most important one as there is inflation and a scare of a drought. How important do you think this is and have you changed the way you work to tackle this situation?
Aziz —> Today, the situation is such that I am the department! Unfortunately this took a toll on my health and I was quite unwell since about 4 months…. but I’m back to the old stress-filled days. These are difficult times and the task that’s even more difficult is to balance between scarcity and inflation. Let’s hope that our inherent resilience to combat difficult situations gets us through this.
5. As the CIO of the biometrics project, do you think this is the ultimate card for an Indian citizen?
Aziz —> The UID is not going to be a card but a number.
What we are doing is not the UID, but a biometric based ration card, which will be used in future for different activities. First, we will have better targeting. Second, we will minimize, if not prevent, diversions, misuse & what not… of facilities that the Govt. wishes to give the people. Suppose there are allotments of sites, why should a person who has already got one or 2 get another? He will be identified and some other person who deserves it will get it…. isn’t that something to look forward to? If this happens it can become the ultimate card, maybe having a chip, and even used as a debit/ credit card…. who knows??? The possibilities are immense!
6. You have served in various capabilities and in various locations, your favorite location and why?
Aziz —> Since I have wide interests, it has never been boring. Raichur was an eye opener, after living all my life in the comforts of home. Udupi was beautiful — the beaches, the forests, Bangalore has been a growing experience where the proximity to the political class has been educative — to say the least!!!! Hey but there’s no place like home!!!
7. Some good and bad experiences you would like to share when at work.
Aziz —> There are many … I was conducting elections in Udupi when T N Seeshan was the CEC. In my constituency there was not a single banner, but when I came to B’lore the place was flooded with plastic. I felt that I had done what no one else had. Then, there was a school located where the sea water actually crashed against the plinth and the strong winds had blown away the roof tiles and broken the window panes…… the kids would sit in their class while the roof leaked and the gusts of sea water sprayed inside occasionally. This was supposed to be a polling booth. I ordered that it should be repaired; otherwise it would not be used in the elections. Everyone sneered that all the authorities come and make such promises, but this will never get repaired. I was adamant that it should be repaired immediately. Finally, it was set right and it gave me immense joy when I went back there again.
Bad experiences have been mostly when the press wrote something they partly understood or misunderstood. I have conducted some dramatic and daring raids and got many people arrested in different places. This is an unpleasant task where one invites their enmity all along.
8. What would you ask the young aspirers who want to join the administrative service?
Aziz —> To the principled, Govt. service is not as easy as it appears. Getting in is also difficult. But if you have the inclination, choose your subjects carefully, study methodically and you’ll make it. Aspire to get into the IAS.
9. You authored the book “The Rising Sun Shall Set….” What made you write it?
Aziz —> I guess I have a penchant for writing. I wrote a lot in my college days – plays, poetry, et al. This had to follow. I’m now looking for a publisher for my next book- short stories.
10. What is the best thing about Belgaum you like?
Aziz —> There is so much. Having lived in the Fort, the past is nostalgic, the weather is lovely. But, I guess the many friends I have and many I came across all make it so much of a drawing force. …. Now I wonder why my 7 year old son likes it. What did he like????
11. What are your thoughts on this website?
Aziz —> It is informative, and in a way makes us feel it’s ours!!! It has made me addictive and I’m busy trying to look up on old friends and trying to make a comment wherever I can…… & thanks for being a facilitator……
12. Your views on rate tape in the system?
Aziz —> Red tapism has become synonymous with the bureaucracy. Why? Could be because many in the govt. want to bring in delays, create frustration and thereby create an easy way out, so as to get their “share”! It could also be due to flaws in the processes, and the “system” where decisions are passed on endlessly. Unfortunately, many officers don’t have the guts to take even minor decisions, and keep passing the files.
13. Vision for Belgaum?
Aziz —> My vision for Belgaum: There’s so much to do; in every way. First, citizen’s participation needs to be looked at differently. Ward committees, resident welfare groups need to be active. Make the corporators take up your cause, rather than theirs. Take roads, have a long term plan to concretize all the roads, keeping in mind drainage, water supply, cabling – so we don’t have road cutting later. Get rid of all overhead cables, especially since so many trees keep falling. Try and merge the Cantonment with the Corporation – the Cantonment act is a vestige of the British era and I don’t think it goes well with the concept of local self govt.
Tourism needs to be promoted in a big way – facilities need to be established and publicity also needs to be given.
I’d also love to see an astro-turf for hockey, since we have immense talent for the sport.
Campaign for a shorter rail link to Hubli & get a Shatabdi or Rajdhani to ply. Flights to Goa, in addition to Pune- Mumbai, B’lore.
I want to see so much done that’s why I keep adding comments whenever someone has a thought in print.