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A one-way street

24 Jul. 2016 12:40 AM IST

During the 60s till mid-80s, it used to be unthinkable for government servants in Nagaland, to defy orders for transfer and posting to any place beyond the comfort zones. Today, it is just the opposite- government servants know that transfer and posting orders are meant to be bent and what is needed to influence them. There are government service and conduct rules which every employee is expected to adhere to since they are in service purely “on public interest”. However, when government employees flout rules, they do so because they believe that their interests matter and nothing else. Therefore, what had been stated by the Principal Director of the Department of H&FW in Dimapur, is nothing new against the backdrop of rampant and blatant disregard for the authority of any government department. These are not simple issues that can be accepted as normal goings on in the system. What the PD had stated, should be taken seriously. To describe the entire phenomenon, it is called “interference” in the decision making of any department. That means no departmental head today, can exercise his or her power and authority, as provided by the service rules, to decide and act on what is best for the department. Today, even the heads of departments have become partners in throwing the sanctity of government service rules and conduct to the winds to reward their favourites or curry favour with power politicians in order to safeguard their position. These days, the authority of the bureaucracy and the heads, has sharply declined since the late 80s and hasn’t stopped. The consequence of loss of authority has also contributed to irregularities, supersession, absenteeism and backdoor appointments. One cause for concern in the total absence of work culture in most departments. This may be considered against the backdrop of the fact that Nagaland has the highest population to employee ratio in the country(and still rising, courtesy backdoor appointments). Time has come for the state to be realistic and accordingly do what is needed to bring a semblance of proportion between population to employment under the government. Government has become obese and employees are not having much work and so, doing precious little. This syndrome is the biggest hurdle against development. Only a small section of officers and staff are doing some work, while the rest spend less than two hours in offices. Prime Minister Modi had called for dismissal or cut in pension of officers found erring and still refusing to mend their ways. Central government employees are enjoying the best salary package in the country besides various other perks. An overhaul of the government’s work culture was one of the major changes Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised before taking charge. Even after 52 years of statehood, a majority of the districts and most far flung areas of Nagaland lack even the basic essentials-good road, power, water, schools, health centres. In part, absenteeism has been blamed as the cause. It may be pointed out that government employees earn not less than four to five times more than those in private firms; yet their output is hugely disproportionate. While the government employees may be focussed on what they ought to get, perhaps the people would also want them to also accept that they must also focus on what they ought to give by way of efficiency in services.

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