Reluctant government employees

[ Tongam Rina ]
If you notice, a lot of private job advertisements in this daily specify that only non-tribal candidates need to apply. Elsewhere in the world, such specification would land the employers in courts for racial discrimination. It sure is discrimination, but it also is a sad commentary on our work culture.
Why would any employer hire a person who is not an asset to an establishment of whatever size? While some organizations can hire and fire according to performance, it appears that the government of Arunachal is struggling to figure out what to do with its own employees.
Well, going by a recent press release from the DIPR, the government of Arunachal seems to have hired employees who sure need to be fired or taken to task for not doing their assigned work.
According to the press release, Chief Secretary Satya Gopal, who visited a government office in Itanagar recently, was deeply anguished at the culture of unauthorized absenteeism, false attendance, and habitual late-coming among the employees.
As to efficiency, most Arunachalees who have had the bad luck of visiting government offices are used to seeing empty offices.
With the exception of some schools, police stations and hospitals, visit any office, anywhere in the state, at 9.30 am; it is unlikely that you would find it open. If you find it open, the staffers of the office would be worthy of a reward from the community, just for doing their job.
Why is it that the same people who hanker for government jobs suddenly decide that going to office is not worth it?
Though there is no research to prove what I am claiming, more than half of the government employees in the state landed their jobs because they paid for it, or because someone in the family is politically active, or because they have relatives who work in high positions, or because they have more than ten voters in the family. Under such circumstances, one has to be extremely romantic to expect that these government employees would even bother to attend office.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu has to ensure that people who are committed to serve the state, with or without facilities, are appointed.
This state deserves better. It is time to introduce accountability and ensure that the employees come to office on time, are efficient, and are ready to actually serve the people. And for that to happen, it is essential that the government takes a tough call on nepotism.
It is also essential that performance reviews are taken. Those who are not capable of, or are reluctant in, carrying out their work need to be sacked. There are thousands of capable people who will more than contribute to the work culture of the state.
It is also absolutely essential that there is a compulsory transfer and posting policy, irrespective of gender or connection or sycophancy.
Furthermore, unless the government is willing to address the issue of appointment and posting, it is useless to even think that work ethic will ever improve. We are all aware of, and complicit in, how such things are done – because there are relatives involved.
On the other hand, while we know that worthless and corrupt employees send their children to schools with fees they could never afford with their salaries or even if they sold their community land, there are also the employees who work hard.
A circle officer somewhere in a remote corner of Arunachal needs to be applauded for not choosing to stay in the headquarters. A teacher who is unsure when their salary will come but still runs an entire school single-handedly deserves acknowledgment. A nurse who stays in a village where there are no roads deserve a salute. An anganwadi worker who goes to work every morning, making sure that our children are prepared for school – even making boiled kichdi some days in a week – need to be nurtured and paid well. An animal husbandry department employee who gives hope to a villager that their mithun or dog has been examined, even if their disease is not diagnosed, needs to be helped.
It is time for those running the administration to contemplate why an entire office should be run by a few dedicated employees while the rest carry on with their personal businesses when they should be at work. Start taking action, including sacking unproductive employees.
Punctuality, efficiency, work culture, and respect for one’s own and everyone else’s time is doable. Ensure productive 9-5 weekdays, and start it from the civil secretariat. The rest will fall in place.