Thursday, April 15, 2021

Consider this

So now that we know that most of the rank and file of the state Government employees is still on a self-extended holiday, the question is what do they do when they do grace their offices with their benign presence? This question begs an explanation, of course. The Chief Secretary may rue all he wants but obviously he needn’t have rued if in the first place the culture of self-extended holidays didn’t persist for years and the Government of Nagaland didn’t turn a Nelson’s Eye to it for decades. Besides ruing, soon enough the Chief Secretary will also issue a directive for all rank and file to attend the Republic Day celebrations across the state. But why should he need to do so if discipline was inculcated in our Government employees from the day they join service? This issue needs detailed discourse but suffice it to say that most of our Government employees are political appointees therefore they know they can get away with blue murder. That probably is why our Chief Minister and no other Ministers have ever directed Government employees to attend office beyond the scheduled holidays and on any other normal working day ~ and for national day celebrations. Has anyone ever heard the Chief Minister or his Ministers ruing the non-attendance of most of the rank and file of Government employees on any working day and done anything to ensure that they attend office? For instance, threaten them with dismissal from service? Then the question also arises as to what do our state Government ~ the executive ~ do during working days? This is pertinent when you consider that almost all associations of almost all Government Departments have numerous grievances, which are highlighted in our local papers from time to time. In fact, some of them resort to pen-down strikes, no work and other forms of protests and agitations from time to time ~ at this point we will not even talk about the public’s grievances. Starting with non-payment of salary on time to abysmal working conditions, including uninhabitable living conditions of employees of some Departments, especially in our remote areas, clearly all is not hunky-dory with Government employment ~ although most of our people consider such employment as the be-all and end-all of life and would give their right arm to get one. The point here is if the state Government cannot take care of its own employees, how can it take care of the people? This explains so much about our under-developed status, not to mention issues of infrastructure development and low human development indices. But let’s not mistakenly mix-up self-extended holidays with poor working conditions because if our Government employees don’t work they working conditions will not improve ~ the legislative, the executive and the bureaucratic need to work in tandem for the Government machinery to function smoothly. Perhaps, our legislative, the executive and the bureaucratic are unaware of how all arms of the Government function? Shouldn’t then some kind of orientation/reorientation programmes be initiated? Way back since 2003 during our present Chief Minister’s first tenure of as CM, he spoke voluminously on Nagas’ work culture but fifteen years down the road whatever happened to his enthusiasm about work culture? A New Year has just begun and the time for making resolutions is almost over yet we don’t see or hear of any resolution made by our Government ~ legislative, executive or bureaucratic. If the rot begins at the head, so do enthusiasm. This is the silver lining our state Government needs to look at and be inspired by. Many years ago when RS Pandey was Nagaland’s Chief Secretary, efforts were made to inspire and motivate Government employees to commit and dedicate themselves to higher levels of productivity. Remember those motivational programmes by Shiv Khera? Changes were actually palpable. It is time for such efforts all over again. Routine makes life dull and easy to lose sight of commitments to our professions and careers ~ although none would describe Government serve as a vocation. Be that as it may, it has been proven again and again that the technicalities of training are never enough to create enthusiasm in those who swear to serve the people and are paid handsomely for it. Perhaps our Chief Minister and Chief Secretary may consider a mixture of inspirational and motivational programmes with a healthy dose of threats of dismissal from service, which has the potential to work wonders for governance in Nagaland?