How does work get done behind the heavily fortified doors of the President’s Secretariat? Who helps research facts and figures for speeches and who aids in writing messages and other official communiqué? Do officials sit dwarfed behind high piles of paperwork or are offices clutter and paper free?
With government departments largely out of bounds in India, perceptions about how government works are based more on hearsay than first hand experiences. But that is about to change, at least in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
For the past several months, the President’s office has thrown its doors open to students, enrolling them as interns and allowing them to get acquainted with what’s-behind-the-scenes.
After putting out an advertisement for a three-month internship programme for graduates, the Press Office attached to the President’s Secretariat has taken in as many as 11 interns.
These students are being groomed and given an insight into how work gets done. “Offering internship to students was part of the idea to open up Rashtrapati Bhavan to the people and making it more accessible. It is an opportunity for smart young people to be part of Rashtrapati Bhavan and see the work that goes into organising events at close quarters,” Venu Rajamony, Press Secretary to the President, said referring to the programme.
Rishab Raj, a student of Mass Communication from Central University of Jharkhand who is attached to the Press Wing for the past three months, said the internship has been an opportunity that has allowed him to learn, grow and even shape his future.
"Writing is a passion for me and I always wanted to be in a profession where I could express myself through writing, but this training programme in Rashtrapati Bhavan has given me a fresh perspective; I now know how facts and data are sourced, what preparation goes into drafting a speech and how to analyse resources. I am considering a career in the government, thanks to the training and the learning that I have gained here.”
Dull, boring, unimaginative — adjectives such as these that the younger generations tend to connote with government work has been replaced with exciting, challenging and creative in the lexicon of these youngsters.
“We get to see and sometimes interact with dignitaries, with people who have made a mark in various fields such as sports, films and even politics; it is a great learning opportunity,” said Niyati Pande and Swati Chauhan, both of whom are attached to the Library that is home to some old and rare books.
Having learnt how to catalogue books and update the website, the duo said learning on the job has been a completely different experience from the rote systems followed in the classrooms. And then there is the privilege of getting to see the President in person.
“The day President Pranab Mukherjee walked into the Library to look for a book will always remain a cherished memory,” the two recalled.
While the internship is a learning experience for the students, the President’s Office is equally keen to continue the programme. “So far it has been a success and we may extend it. It works well both ways, the students learn the ropes and we can also benefit from fresh ideas and initiatives that they bring,” said Mr. Rajamony. The three-month programme is open to first class graduate degree holders in Journalism, Law, History, Political Science and Literature and offers a fixed stipend of Rs. 5,000 per month.
Rashtrapati Bhavan throws open its doors to student interns for acquiring an insight into the high office’s