Friday, May 31, 2024

Red-flagging malaise

Today also let’s dwell on Government employees’ absence from their places of posting, which is common knowledge in Nagaland ~ several tribal, district and students’ organizations have been highlighting the issue for years. But sadly, our State Government doesn’t seem to have done anything to address it ~ merely issuing instructions and directives from time to time, as we can see, hasn’t been of any help. So, why are Government employees absent from work, wherever they are posted? The reasons are numerous ~ political, (mis)governance, economic, infrastructural, medical and psychological, etc. But, perhaps one main reason is because they know they can get away with anything ~ the culture of khushi-khushi is so pervasive in our Government system that Government employees have come to believe they have divine rights. This didn’t happen overnight and in a vacuum ~ it will take years of in-depth research to identify all factors and apportion responsibility. For things to come to this pass, numerous internal and external factors coalesced to produce so many uncaring and insensitive Government employees ~ sadly not least politicians holding office and the larger society too. This also is a result of the much changed value-systems in our society and State ~ impacted by local, regional, national and global political, economic, social, cultural and religious changed and changing value-systems which we have increasingly internalized and integrated into. And the more access to technology we have, the more our value-systems will change because technology is shrinking the world. Then there are local factors such as our psychological profile, attitudes and mindsets ~ as also culture and customs. This column is too inadequate a space to discourse in detail but certain factors at the local level must be underscored. Our Government leadership hasn’t created the atmosphere and environment for enthusiasm and zeal in its employees ~ this is crucial because Government work is drearily repetitive and bound by excessive bureaucratization, which kills creativity and originality. Here the question arises: do we lack good governance because our Government employees are not “good” or we lack “good’ Government employees because our governance is not “good”? Governance is the collective output of the legislature, the executive and the implementing agencies ~ the bureaucracy ~ so how do all of them perceive their roles in this structure and system? Somehow, Government employees’ absence from their places of posting also gives the impression that our legislature, the executive and the bureaucracy are disconnected to each other, which has further created the disconnect between all of them and the beneficiaries ~ the people ~ the end objective of this structure and system. So, how do these agencies reconnect amongst themselves to reconnect with the people? This probably should be perceived through the prism of the power politics of governance juxtaposed with the obligations of good governance ~ the former may win votes but the latter will lead to a developed Nagaland. So, our legislature and executive will have to decide their priorities ~ otherwise, our Government employees will remain absent from their places of posting consequently, the whole purpose of Statehood itself would be defeated. True, the State of Nagaland has political origins but politics alone, especially the politics of power, cannot sustain any State. In fact, the politics of power, whichever way it is looked at, is not the end objective ~ the people are. So, our legislature, executive and the bureaucracy have to reboot the State’s priorities i.e., prioritize the constitutionally-mandated good governance otherwise Nagaland State will be a failed Project. Another aspect requiring study is generational. Increasingly the elder generations are retiring and replaced by younger generations. Now, what kind of value-system have they imbibed at home and in school? What are their realities and experiences engendering their commitment, resilience, perseverance and sensitivity quotients? A scrutiny, through the prism of the increasing dominance of the market value-systems based on and aided by advancing technology is needed. This is, by no means, the last word but we live in a Nagaland of various worlds ~ some are yet to emerge; some have more than emerged. While our political elites may present the narrative of political solution as the Holy Grail for Nagaland’s salvation ~ to conceal its incompetence and/or unwillingness to develop Nagaland for apparent reasons ~ the fact is there are several vital multidimensional political solutions awaiting engagement. Government employees’ continual absence from work is a malaise by itself, which also red-flags all other epidemics and pandemics rampant in the State.