Saturday, February 09, 2008

Voice of a concerned Employee

This is a comment appeared in the post How much increase do you expect? It has raises some issues. So I thought this comment should be used in post to draw your attention as it reflects a concern voice from within Government employee circle.

If the pay is low, there are several reasons - low performance, low accountability and high corruption. I'm a Gr.B officer in the (infamous) Central Excise and Customs Dept. and my personal experience is that on an average almost 90% of employees in the service - from Gr.A to Gr.D, are corrupt i.e. they have accepted some kind of illegal monetary or other gratification at some points of their service life, influencing their working or affecting revenue collection. What is most worrisome are the attitude of the new IRS officers. In a recent batch of IRS officers only two among the 24 or so new recruits posted in my area has any sort of integrity. A few of them in fact openly cite the high investment they had to do in order to make to this grade, to justify their actions. Direct recruit Inspectors are no better with 99% of them resorting to corruption within 5 years of their joining.

The second problem is the lack of performance. It is well known that in the govt. sector, the person who works better is made to work more. Ultimately this results in some people getting away without doing any work while others are over burdened. This is mostly the problem in the cadres of Group B and below. Among the Group A officers this problem exists, albeit in a different manner because it does not affect the fellow Gr. A officers but those below him/her. It is said that Gr.A officers get salary for taking decisions because they are not supposed to work in the field level. Often many officers actually shy away from taking decisions - either by dilatory tactics or by making the junior officers put up proposals and only countersigning the same. In case of trouble I have seen many Gr.A officers escape responsibility saying that the lower rank officer misled them. Giving verbal directions to lower level officers and juniors is another way of shrugging off responsibility. Some of them take particular exception if a lower ranking officer subsequently try to get a written order. Gradually this adversely affects the sincere workers, who get the impression that they are being penalized for working hard, particularly since there is no effective carrot and stick policy for good/bad work.

As always, the level of accountability in a govt.organization is much less for all grades of officers compared to their private counterpart. The ACRs have ceased to be an effective instrument, except perhaps at the Gr.A level where it is often used for vindictive purposes.

All these issues prevent a govt. dept from performing at its optimum level. More officers are required to do the job which could have been done with much less. The lack of performance means delay in fulfilling the targets and the sincere workers getting dejected due to work pressure and lack of any effective system of accountability, rewarding a good performance and penalizing bad performance.

Similarly, although internally everyone knows who is an honest officer and who is not, there is no effective mechanism to give boost to honesty and punish the corrupt. The present system of passive vigilance administration has lost its edge due to its misuse or inertness. The overall depressing scenario and all pervading corruption has led to many once-honest officers resorting to corruption after working many years of service with integrity.

Thus, it is not only the pay structure that is needed to be improved. Nor will a sole emphasis on pay boost the performance in the government sector. Instead of a pay commission, there is need to set up a Government Services Reforms Commission to investigate and address the core problems and find a long term solution and the pay related issues could be one of the terms of reference of such a Commission.

33 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:53 PM

    Each and every word of your letter is true beyond any doubt. This environment is rampant only in the govt. / PSU departments, not usually in the private sectors, as you have rightly pointed out. Every sincere employee like you has come across such situations where your department Head would like to heap upon you loads of work (including those unlikely to be done by insincere employees). I think, only in India, this happens. I have come across similar situations and I think I can feel your feelings.

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  2. Anonymous9:47 PM

    A thought provoking admission of the facts by a daring employee of the so called infamous instruments of the Govt who dreams reforms. Is this face of India today was the goal of our freedom fighters who got us independence. After 60 yrs of independence we have been enslaved by our system of governance plagued with corruption. It is a simple logic .Govt needs to collect revenue from the people who can pay . Revenue collectors are the instruments for the transfer of this money .Then who will control these instruments ? Obviously, the one who pays them more. Therefore the performance related pay for such dept is the sole solution .The next question would be how much should be the incentive. This would depend on how well you implement your carrot and stick policy. Unfortunately, in the present system carrot is too small and stick too weak. There should be incentives for the revenue collection in terms of performance related pay .Simultaneously there should be exemplary punishments for the corrupt and non performing assets of the govt machinery.
    Another important issue touched by the employee is regarding the new entrants in the department openly admitting that they spent huge sums to get into the system and thus giving a lease of life to their dead consciousness by joining the bandwagon of the corruption.Can a reform in the process of the recruitment to such departments be an effective solution? No. Remember it is garbage in and garbage out. You have to get people from the present society which has forgotten the role of imbibing values of life in a child during schooling. So reforms are needed . But not like a pay commission which comes once in 12 years like a Kurinji flower which blossoms only once every 12 years .Rather the reforms should be twelve times in a year with every budget , with every session of parliament and the order of reforms should be
    A) in education
    B) in health
    c) then in governance
    D) and then in pay

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  3. Views of manisha are specific to IRS and therefore cannot be generalised. Its true that various deptt like administration, police, Tax etc are prone to corruption but that doesnt mean that these deppts constitute the whole govt setup. There are various other govt deptts which gets officers from reputed civil services exams but are very less prone to corruption and don't offer any other perk to justify their status. Eg. postal service, defence accounts deptt, Audit & accounts deptt (I am talking about the class 1 officers in this cadre and i am talking the reality there), The officers of these deptts are not in good financial conditions as compared to their counterpart in other services, and thgerfore VI CPC should cater to their need judiciously

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  4. G.Sajikumar,Cochin10:40 PM

    But it is not a correct and balanced approach to say that Private Sectors are Angels and it will bring lot of goodies and Govt Sector is Evil.I may like to say an incident where the Private Sector Plays Mischief ,still escape unscathed.
    One year Back ,I have taken a Prepaid Internet Connection From Asianet ,an ISP active in Kerala valid for One year ,with 9 GB Quota.I have been using Asianet for the last Two years.But the last year was shock to me.We were going at a Maximum of 600 MB per month at a casual level and charged reasonably below Rs 350 .But when the 9 GB quota worth Rs 3000 rupees was exhausted in One month last june only.We checked physically and found for each light surf in 30 minutes we were metered for 200 to 400 MB.It was unfair I told to The ISP office ,but in vain ,they stick to their stance and i had no option but to discontinue Their service .
    And I took BSNL Broadband connection and it was satisfactory even though they were slow in service.But when a heavy internet bill for Rs 3600 recieved by us ,we complained to a responsible BSNL Officer ,we have been told it was due to software error .And they corrected and reduced bill to Rs 500 plus recently.It shows that Private sector have unethical business practice and their employees are well paid at the cost of customers.
    Honesty,Integrity,Social Responsiblity ,Ethical approach all these aspects Private Sector Lags Behind.Big Private Hospital Never Treat Poor and Lower Middle Class Patients.
    What we need is A strong Govt Beauracratic Machinery with good HR practice and accountability.For this they need to pay Well.LEVELLING AGRICTURAL LAND AND CONSTRUCTING GOLF CLUB ON IT ,NIGHT CLUBS ETC CAN'T BE TERMED DEVELOPMENT .Likewise Dismantling Govt machinery and allowing Private Sector to loot People are not Progressive.Electricity Tarriff charged by Private Players are six times costilier than NTPC.Construction for Private Institutional Bldg are three times Costlier than CPWD constructed buildings for same specifications.The Corporate media does not Highlight these Flip sides.

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  5. @Khan,

    These are not my views, this a view of one of the reader who has send it in comment on another post of this blog. I have just posted it in new post.

    Manisha

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  6. I am in full agreement with you that it is not pay commission but a reforms commission which should look into the morally committed employees' concerns against the immorals that are eating into the system and country's resources

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  7. Happy Babu11:25 AM

    A well written article. The author appears to be talented and at the same time frustrated with the service in the Govt sector. He should leave govt job and immediately start a fresh life in the private sector. Govt jobs are only for the corrupt,below-average people and not for ambitious hard workers like him. If he takes the right decision now, he can ensure a good life for his family. I wish him all the best.

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  8. hi this is Raj here...an officer in ARMY deployed in j&k.....we tend to look for a simplified solution to a complex problem......first thing first ...lower pay/less facitities are not the only reason for corruption or poor sevice so increasing/improving them merely not going to cahnge this......terming a complete sector/organisation corrupt or giving them a clean chit is again a hasty and myopic viewpoint......behind every desk/designation there is a person and it is entirely upon him how he conducts himself.....whether he indulges in some unfair means or choose to stand against all odds.Taking bribe or looking for excuses for not working or indulging in unethical practices are all individual specific and nothing to do with any organisation.AND AS FAR AS MONEY IS CONCERN THERE IS NO AMOUNT WHICH IS ENOUGH....GREED HAS NO LIMITATIONS BUT OFCOURSE REQUIREMENTS CAN ALWAYS BE KEPT BARE MINIMUM .

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  9. Anonymous1:22 PM

    Views are nearly correct. Promotion should be based on written test/interview with video graphy not based on ACRs.
    Another thing is many time a junior is unable to express / perform due to his seniors. a system can be adopted as in email - you can send your suggestion/problems to your immediate senior with copies to your ministry, and one copy to stored in your central server. After a year you can evaluate performance on the weightage of this also.

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  10. My simple view is that corrupt Govt. staff & Officers are more criminal than the so called terrorists. Terrorists strike once in a while. Results of their actions are most visible. Losses due to their actions can be assessed. But the damage being caused by the corrupt Govt. staff are extremely debilitating the progress of the nation & society. These corrupt officials are there in every organ of Government including law enforcing bodies like investigation, vigilance etc. All talks of reforms by Officials and Politicians are smoke-screens of their looting. The most vulnerable are the honest and upright ones in Government service who are seen to be on the way of the corrupt. There is absolutely no mechanism to save them. They can not go to police, vigilance or politicians. Only option is either to join the corrupt or leave Government service. They suffer continuously. In this scenerio, pay scales are irrelevant. Pay more to enrich corruption and weaken the common citizen.

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  11. Anonymous5:13 PM

    I am an IRS officer with 18 years of service what is written here is only part of the story. There are officers like me who are honest and because of their honesty they never get to be posted on lucrative posts because they do not take money nor do they allow others to take money. Then there are subordinate officers, inspectors, superintendents who do not work but only collect money for senior officers. It takes all kinds to make up the department. But I have one thing to say... the govt. pays me 4,35,000 annually, I do not take any bribes.The corporate sector offers me a package of 1 crore plus... how long will I subsidise myself for 90 lacs per annum to the government when I get no credit for my honesty????

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  12. I would like to comment on what g. sajikumar has commented. Corruption in private arena and Government should not be mixed. In that sense, corruption is everywhere, even in a family.
    Corruption is most serious when it flourishes in the public arena, the Governing bodies funded by citizens. The expectation of public is that Governing systems should be honest. If the law enforcing agencies are corrupt, then everything is lost. The society can not move ahead. The corrupt are always powerful. The strength of the honest is weak. Thus the challenge is how to establish and maintain honest and efficient law enforcement institutions. Is this possible ? Then and only then we can cleanse all other corrupt elements including corruption in private institutions.

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  13. Anonymous10:37 AM

    I am an IRS Officer of 15 years service.IRS is as corrupt as any other government organization and reflects the society in which it exists.I do agree that honesty is not rewarded but does one prctices it for rewards only.I am an honest officer and have seen that majority of honests have become cynics and are allways disgruntled.

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  14. Anonymous3:49 PM

    honesty is like modesty of a woman. once it goes it never comes back. high cost of living (essential commodity prices dearer by 50% over the last 2 years), high cost of education of children (govt reducing seats and self finanacing schemes coming up - ed allowance is measly 40 rupees a month); salary not in tune with outside; forces even honest officers to accept mamool. The rot has set. whether the 6 cpc can stem the rot has to be seen

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  15. Anonymous10:15 PM

    This article is 100% correct.
    Whoever is willing to work is burdened with all sorts of work. One who avoids work is not at all required to work. No performance apprisals. Group D staff hardly work. Periodical apprisal of capabilities should be done by some independent evaluating agency. Meritorious workers should be rewarded by early promotions.

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  16. Anonymous11:30 AM

    Someone at least has SAID what all sincere and honest officers of all Govt. Departments EXPERIENCE while discharging their duties... and the dumb rage, in turn, seeps into their social lives as well at varied degrees.
    I have a suggestion... just to begin with ....
    Can the CVC (or any ad-hoc forum to be setup)put up a site to run an online opinion poll sort of device to learn, from the colleagues/public brushing with such official/neighbors of a Govt. Employee about his/her integrity/sincerity? This would be effective since the persons coming in contact with a Govt. Official KNOWS whether the officer is honest / sincere.
    Collection of this data is necessary to begin any process of reform.

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  17. Anonymous12:02 PM

    This is the best letter, I have found about the working of Indian Government offices. Same situation prevails in more or less all the departments. 50% employees at all levels are working for historical reasons i.e. without any work. To circumbent the pay commissions, all department indulges in upgrading the posts, restucturing just to accelerate promotions resulting in all round chaos and court cases. Increasing the pay will definately be one of the factor to improve efficiency.

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  18. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Unfortunately in our country everybody is thinking that only pvt. sector all is good. After all they only serve for their masters. So what ever they do is only to fill the coffers of their masters, and not a single bit to the development of this country. I can't find any better services offered by these so called pvt. firms. At the advent of this Call center, really who cannot catch hold of the culprits. Another, irony is that, all the terms and agreement is for the seller to the buyer and not to the customers. Especillay, these pvt. ISPs and other telecom servies advertise some thing and offer to the customers very much less. But, they are not be caught, because, we all are kept in total darkness. Never, there has been any fruitful development done by any pvt. firms and their motto will only to earn money. Everything, business for them. In that, contest only Govt. and Govt. Servants can give proper services. As rightly said by the authors, the officers in the higher hierachy are not discharging their responsibilities properly. So, the old Slogan, Khaam kher ne waaleyn ko khaam dho, na kher ne waaleyn ko pahaar dho.

    cbs

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  19. Anonymous12:17 AM

    Some of the comments above have argued that Pvt. Sector is not any better than the public sector and that there is corruption in the Pvt. Sector as well.

    There is a fundamental difference. In the public sector the corruption is internal...i.e. it is hurting the organization and the country. The pvt. sector is corrupt externally...i.e. it is deceiving the public and enriching itself. But rarely does an officer in a private organization do something that hurts the private organization itself and damages it. Internally, a private organization will not tolerate corrupt people who hurt the organization itself and damages its profitability.

    So I think people are confusing the two issues by equating corruption in the private sector and the public sector.

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  20. Anonymous12:49 AM

    I would link to point out g.sajikumar's faulty logic. The private sector ISP may be corrupt in dealing with the clients and BSNL might be better in that respect. But the issue raised by the author of the original relates to corruption within the organisation.

    A corrupt BSNL employee will hurt his own organization but will there be an employee in the private organization who will hurt his own company? This is the basic difference.

    Right or wrong, whatever the private sector employee is doing will benefit the organization. He is "honestly" implementing the policy of his company, even if it is not ethical. On the other hand a corrupt BSNL employee will hurt its own organisation for his personal gain.

    These two are different types of issues. What Mr. Sajikumar is complaining about is an issue between a client and the company. But in respect of corruption in a govt. organization, it is the organization and the country which suffers. One should not confuse the two issues.

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  21. Anonymous6:54 PM

    There is no dearth of honest people in govt. service, however cowaardice has somehow become synonymous with honesty and most of those who are honest keep their honesty within themselves. In practical sense this would mean than lets say an officer controlling the ubiquitious TTE in a Railway system would know who amongs his team of TTE's is corrupt but would keep quite and would not use his powers to take corrective action to remove/reduce the culture of corruption. This negative attitude of 'I am not corrupt and why should I meddle in others affairs' is effectively promoting corruption in a system despite having sufficient honest people. Another Gandhi is required to exhort these honest people to actually take up the cudgels and lead from the front. Untill then the corrupts will rule.

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  22. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Manisha has taken a moralist view of corruption. This does not appear to be correct. Corrupt or not, government servants undergo lot of pain and suffering, simply because they chose to work for the government.Honest government servants almost are working on the verge of emotional breakdown.There are many government servants, who want to use their office as a spring board for politics or business. These wretched persons milk and rape government departments to no end. Root of all corruption lies in democracy, dirty politics and the wretched UPSC recruitment system. Most of the newly joining IRS customs chaps are highly qualified, and they do begin their antics from day one.They are ready for it.Why should an IIT+MBA product, languish in poverty or so goes the thinking . Hats off Manisha, for coming out in the open.

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  23. Anonymous8:50 PM

    It is not that the honest official are cowards or they just keep to themselves, the fact is that the corrupt and dishonest official far out-number the honest ones. The corrupt senior officer go out of the way to ensure thatthe honest officer's survival is made most difficult. The less efficient and unscruplous colleagues also gang up and support the corrupt superiors, thereby humiliating and harassing the efficient and honest ones, by-passing, tarnishing the ACRs, denying them their promotions, etc.
    Quitting and joining the private sector becomes difficult after 40, hence there is little choice but to stay aloof, keep ones own sanity intact (avoid depression) and continue working to the exent possible.

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  24. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Hey! why so much fuss about the pay revision..... if somebody is not satisfied with the pay in govt. sector and still feels that they are fit for a better remuneration... kick off the govt. job and find a suitable job with a higher remuneratio....

    Fortunately, now the job market is very wide for efficient people...

    inefficient people only want get higher... but never try to earn a better income....

    Honesty... let's not talk about that... a dis-honest person will be dis-honest where ever he is and vice versa..... it's a matter of personal traits that comes by birth and brought up... jobs have very less do anything about that

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  25. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Hey! why so much fuss about the pay revision..... if somebody is not satisfied with the pay in govt. sector and still feels that they are fit for a better remuneration... kick off the govt. job and find a suitable job with a higher remuneratio....

    Fortunately, now the job market is very wide for efficient people...

    inefficient people only want get higher... but never try to earn a better income....

    Honesty... let's not talk about that... a dis-honest person will be dis-honest where ever he is and vice versa..... it's a matter of personal traits that comes by birth and brought up... jobs have very less do anything about that

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  26. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Hi
    This artical exactly reflects the Indian government offices.
    In govt. upto me if Boss is good(means not taking bribe, work orientd), then the staff below is well.
    Again when BOss is good ?

    His Boss should be good(...)?

    if one upper level is bad then whole system goes down.

    BOSSes should be good..........................

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  27. Anonymous4:07 PM

    "Honesty... let's not talk about that... a dis-honest person will be dis-honest where ever he is and vice versa..... it's a matter of personal traits that comes by birth and brought up... jobs have very less do anything about that"

    Completely wrong. Often, the fear of losing job keep a person in the "honest" track...who otherwise, given the opportunity, will resort of dishonest means. These are the people who are between the two extremes - the "born" corrupt and the "born" honest. And it is the number of these "undecided" person which is the most. An environment of easy money and a system of corruption leads these people to dishonesty. So jobs (or rather the system) indeed has something to do with honesty. This is my personal experience after doing 12 years of govt. service.

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  28. Anonymous12:20 AM

    timely truth...well said..!!
    indeed truth triumphs...!!!! i would like to express my view by a small poem based on human nature..

    "BHOOK SE BACCHCHA BILAGH PADEY TO CHHATI MOOH MEIN RAKH DETI HAI...AAG PET KI BUJH JAATI HAI...CHAIN USEY MIL JAATA HAI...LEKIN...,MAA KI ANNDHI CHHATI...AANKHEN MUNND LE..MOOH NA KHOLE...BACCHAA CHHATI DAS LETA HAI...; BACHCHEY KA KYA DOSH HAI ISMEN...MAA APNI AANKHEN TO KHOLE...!!!"

    TRANSLATION:
    "Hungry infant cry food food,mother put her nipple in his mouth...infant suck satisfies his appetite...and relases...But; if the mother diverts her attention,infant bites her..whats wrong on his part...mother should be attentive enough on the needs and requirements of her child who is solely dependent on her for his living....!!"
    I hope no further clarification is needed anymore...!

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  29. Anonymous10:38 AM

    People talked lot of things abt pay commissions & pvt./govt sectors. we need to understand most of the employees working hard and doing their work honestly in both pvt/govt sectors irrespective whether they serve to the country or to an individual. Pay commission should crane its head to these employees.

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  30. Anonymous12:44 PM

    Each and every word written by Manisha is true. The very fact that the accountability factor doesn't filter down shows the government employees in poor light. No effort is made by the so called officers of whatever level he may be to take the bull by the horn. That's the very reason why Government employees have the tag of being the most corrupt in the country. To earn a few extra bucks, they crucify all their ideals, so called good background, call upon all the false gods, take the help of their caste, creed, religion, sex etc. There seems to be no end to this. Hope many people like Manisha comes out so that a difference can be made.

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  31. Anonymous8:06 PM

    Very correct assessment of the situation.

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  32. Anonymous5:03 PM

    If pay and perks are the problem, who has asked you to join government. Still it is not too late, submit your papers and you are free. I could not understand what is your problem with corrupt people. In India only those people are honest who could not make money As they say "Angoor Khattee hain". If not don't be afraid you do your duty and let them do whatever they wish to do. Have faith in your god and yourself.

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  33. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Govt has given them work of distributing honey. Now it is different thing that someone washes his hands after the job and someone puts his hand in his mouth

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