From a growing group of his blogs on development communication in India, Dibyendu Sarkar writes:
It is complete fourteen months since I first posted on this blog. Today my counter shows 10,000th page view. With 70 posts and 10,000 page views in fourteen months, the blog has stabilized. It is probably time I address a couple of issues. The first one is about the choice of a personal blog instead of an official site. I have been often asked by my colleagues about the reason of choosing the personal space over the official one. I have thought about it, not just mow; but even before I ventured on this. There are two specific reasons behind choosing the personal medium. First, it gives me the flexibility of going beyond my specific assignment and write on different fields of interest and experience. Thus when I was a part of the election authority, I wrote about prison reforms, transactional analysis and behaviour change communication. Likewise, in my present capacity as the Commissioner, Mahatma Gandhi NREGS in West Bengal, I continue to write about diverse other issues.
The second reason is more experience-based. When I was the Sub-divisional Officer, Alipore in early 2000, we had our website <www.sdoali.org> [no longer functioning]. In fact, the website clearly spoke of my dreams on development. The site had an impressive beginning and about an year and a quarter I was at the Sub-division after the website was launched, we put it to good use. Unfortunately, even when the domain continued to be reserved for the site for nearly two years after I was transferred out, the site still had my name as the SDO. With no effective use, the agency which provided the domain ultimately lost interest and the site finally disappeared.
Next is my experience of working with a relatively more organized institution. I was with UNICEF, Guwahati as Programme Communication Officer for a little more than one and a half year. During the period I tried to do extensive study in the field of communication, especially behaviour change communication. I also subscribed to the MCH Community, Decentralization Community and the Gender Community of the UN Solution Exchange. Before I finally came back to the State, I decided to ensure that the thousands of the pages I had on my desktop should be shared. I was not sure about the use of the documents saved on the computer. Hence I spent a couple of week-ends and a number of late evenings to take print outs of considerable documents and organized the printed documents in the file cabinet. After I left the organization, there was no phone call requesting some explanation on the potential use of the documents. I have reasonable hunch that the documents have never been accessed after my departure.
The third issue that I would like to highlight here is my experience after leaving the Department of Correctional Administration. The Department was not a giant institution compared to the Departments like Panchayats & Rural Development, Agriculture, Health & Family Welfare etc. Whatever be the size, I found it a virgin territory and there were a lot of interventions in the field of prison/ correctional reforms which could be accomplished. We attempted a number of reforms initiatives. Could accomplish some; could not accomplish many. Before I left the Department, I wrote a very detailed "Note to Successor". It ran the length of 19 computer-typed pages. I was happy with the thought that I could share my ideas for the senior officers in the Department to take further. Unfortunately, I never got an impression that the note was ever read and acted upon by my successor/s.
All these personal experiences convinced me that writing an official blog has its own limitations, especially in view of the fact that often the senior Officers in the Department are not that keen to experiment and innovate. On the other hand, there are so many people who would be interested to learn from my experiences, study further and at times implement some of the ideas. The personal blog provided opportunity for those. Moreover, apart from the colleagues in the Government, there are people from diverse fields of development who too might be interested in getting the ideas and use some in the field with required improvisation.
Finally, something written on the blog always has the chance of being followed for days, months and years to come giving the treatises some amount of temporal reach. Hence this personal blog.
By Dibyendu Sarkar, Executive Officer in the West Bengal Civil Service, India, from his blog Communication for Development Ideas and Experiences [Editor's note: From Mr. Sarkar, "Kindly request members to give feedback for further development of the contents of the blog."]