Monday, April 06, 2009

With You, For You; Always

“This is too much. After sixty years of independence, this cannot go on.” Bilas said after endlessly waiting for the Taluka officer on third consecutive day.

Bilas was the first person who had passed higher secondary in his village. His father had the hobby of describing how he overcame all the obstacles to educate his son. And now he believed that his son would change their village.

So, he had taken Bilas to the Taluka office to apply for an agriculture loan. But it was their third consecutive day, and they still could not locate the Taluka Officer. The usual reply of the peon was, “Sir has gone for a field visit.” His father wanted to wait, as he knew that patience was the virtue needed to deal with government, but he could not tell this to his higher secondary pass son.

“We must do something. These officers take us for a ride only because we let them to. I will go to the highest level.” an angry Bilas said.

Then and there he wrote a request to the Chief Minister (CM) asking him to provide his father an immediate agriculture loan. Before posting that, his father showed it to the entire village and told them that since now they have an educated boy in their village; they can directly send all their requests to the CM.

The CM was an honest man. He wanted to help everybody, and told his secretaries to help everybody. After some days, Bilas’s letter reached the CM office and found fortune of being opened by a CM’s secretary.

And since the CM was pretty strict about helping the poor, his secretary drafted a letter to the District Magistrate of the Bilas’s district; strictly asking him to explain and send an action taken report. The DM was an honest man. He wanted to help everybody, and told his secretaries to help everybody.

So after some days, one of the secretaries of DM forwarded that letter to the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) very strictly asking him to immediately explain and send an action taken report. The SDM was an honest man. He wanted to help everybody, and told his secretaries to help everybody.

This time the letter was seen himself by the SDM. He drafted a letter to the Taluka Officer very, very strictly asking him to immediately, immediately explain and send an action taken report.

The Taluka officer felt grief and pain after receiving that letter. He wanted to cry feeling that a person of his Taluka had to go to CM to ask for the loan and already a year had passed in the process. He decided to take an action at that moment itself and send an action taken report to the CM via DM via SDM.

His action taken report read, ‘Since the loan application must be addressed to the Taluka officer, a letter has been sent to Sri Bilas asking him to immediately come to the Taluka Office and submit the loan application in prescribed format.’

PS: For any confusion that may arise later, I hereby confirm that this is a work of fiction :)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Some Frequently Answered Questions

What work do you do?

Right now as a part of my training, I have been posted as a Block Development Officer (BDO). And the truth is I never knew before that government worked so much.

In last two months, I have handled jobs like conducting camps for differently able people, arranging for the visit of central government team, meeting political party leaders, facing deputations (that’s a gathering of hundreds of people which comes to raise their grievance), conducting inquiries, pushing up for the NREGS works, handling the never ending election work and the list just goes on.

In short, the spectrum in which the government works is unbelievable and each day comes with a new experience.

Can Civil servants work honestly in this environment of corruption?

This question comes with a bias that majority of people in government are corrupt. I have limited experience but till now I have never found any reason to believe so.

Nobody can force anybody to be corrupt or vice versa. Just like any other big organization, I have found all the colors in my office. So giving a certificate to all government employees that they are corrupt may be fashionable, but not always correct.

Deviating from this question, I would like to give an example. I have a clerk who shall be retiring in six months. He was inducted as a clerk; he shall retire as a clerk. His salary always was and is, meager. He was never given any training; he was never given any reward. But still he is the most hardworking person of my block, backbone of one of the important departments and even in this age he works on Saturdays and Sundays without any extra remuneration.

The truth is I am still searching the source of motivation of such people. I do not understand what drives them, and I feel really bad if somebody flatly brands entire government as corrupt.

Do Politicians let you work?

This question comes with a preconceived notion that you want to work but politicians do not let you do so. The truth is in many cases may be far from it.

One must understand that politicians are representatives of people. Their understanding of ground reality is much better than that of a civil servant. They also know man management pretty well since they ‘deal’ with lots of people.

Good work in field is necessary for them for being re-elected too. So most of the time, they genuinely help civil servants to do good work. They have some limitations as they must have a ‘please all’ attitude but if a civil servant makes sense no politician can stop him from doing good work.

Why do you like civil services?

1. More often than not, I shall be the boss in my office. In other words, I get a good amount of freedom. A senior civil servant once told me that the reason why our service class parents term this as the best job is that here you get least interference of your superiors and maximum freedom to do your work. Most of the time, you are the one who is managing the show, be it big or small.

2. In course of my job I have seen almost entire India, visited the Parliament, met President and Prime minister, learned entirely new language and came to know of opportunities to work in hundreds of fields where government is present with its ever unfolding spectrum. Which other job can offer me this? I end this answer here as I have already dealt this subject before.