The public service image is a dark spot on the white service delivery mechanism, writes Shahid Majeed Mir
A drastic law may prove hazardous for public efficiency, which is already stricken by corruption. It is called SRO 202. Public and private sectors provide employment to citizenry in the state. While the private sector strictly follows the 3Es norm of Efficiency, Economy and Effectiveness, the public sector is meant for service delivery as promised by the constitution. The public service is intended to make conditions favourable for productive development of the society. It is meant to promote healthcare, education, and drinking water to the people. These activities are performed by government employees selected through procedures with a range of eligibility criteria. The educational and vocational eligibilities are conditions followed by the scheme of examination to get the job in a government department.
J&K is reeling under a perpetual political issue where peace is the story of ghosts, so is the availability of sufficient private sector to cater to the aspirations of the youth. However, the sector usually providing employment opportunity to highly alienated Kashmir youth is adopting a lackadaisical approach. The rules are getting so rigid that it breeds inefficiency and corruption. The SRO dated 30 June 2015 was issued under which new recruitment for all non-gazetted cadre is underway. The Jammu Kashmir Service Selection Board (JKSSB) is recruiting non-gazetted cadre with provisions of five-year harsh probationary period that too with strict service rules. Is it working for the economy? Or is it destroying the future of the youth?
The SRO reads the appointee should remain under probation for a period of five years. The service would be regulated by provisions of the said SRO thereafter. It puts a restriction of financial pay on an employee. The employee is entitled to draw a fixed amount as salary with just basic pay barring him or her allowances enjoyed by others in a substantive capacity.
The government of the time defended the action on behalf of the financial health of the State’s economy to stave off financial obligation for a minimum period of five years at least. It further puts a constraint on initial transfer for a period of five-year probation. Yet another strict provision is promotion is barred till completion of probationary period. There are a number of lacunae in the issued order. First and the foremost being discriminatory provision is the fixation of pay to basic minimum. This harsh provision keeps them to an inferior scale compared to the same positions in the hierarchy of the department. A teacher appointed pre and post-2015 period is drawing different salaries though sharing the same position in the department. This illogical constraint at times breeds inefficiency and corruption. The work culture is deteriorated especially in case of public service-related departments. An official expected to draw a salary lower than his colleagues may prove disastrous for larger public interest.
On second part, the provision bars an employee from promotion, if any, till completion of five years. The Finance Minister at the time of issuance quoted the financial health as a reason for the order. However, the said provision counters this obsolete explanation. This inhibits the prospect of bureaucracy as a career and thus breeds compromise with departmental integrity.
The protests and hartal by employees of said SRO and those seeking employment is a case to be mentioned. Almost all employees unions have raised voice against this draconian law. The massive number of representations reached the grievance redress cell and called for scraping the SRO and reinstating earlier procedures.
In fact, the law violates the rights enjoyed by the employees as per the constitution. Therefore, the dimensions Economy, Efficiency, Employment, poverty alleviation, efficient public delivery of services are affected by this law.
The explanation given can’t be replaced for the provision which inhibits the growth of an employee based on his personal instincts through departmental examinations. Thereafter the transfer from initial posting to a period of five years from a minimum of the post held in the department is ruling the roast of discrimination. The transfer provision is used to readjust the vocations and necessities to subsume temporary or permanent mismatch in the department elsewhere. However, the SRO siphoned away all these privileges expected to emerge after the appointment in the government department. This lowers the confidence of entire public service in government ipso facto.
The provisions governing SRO 202 recruitment are draconian and harsh. They are discriminatory in letter and spirit. After toiling hard for career prospects in highly competitive education system and do or die recruitment tests, the appointee is expected to draw a handsome salary and witness prospective growth. However, the regulation by the SRO is a utopian dream for efficiency in economy. This drastic law in reality may prove hazardous for public efficiency which is already stricken by corruption. The prevailing notion of public service image in the eyes of citizenry is already a dark spot on the white service delivery mechanism. It indirectly curbs the progress of employees who are the arms and legs of the government machinery at the ground level.
The welfare state is mandated to enhance the living condition of relatively poor who in fact may become absolute victims at the hands of public servants. The rule is absolutely irrational and illogical step to perpetuate the already prevailing distress among the unemployed fraternity with huge qualifications. Kashmiri youth is in dilemma due to the prevailing political instability and the SRO 202 has taken to another extreme. It clearly violates the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of the country that needs to be safeguarded at every cost.
It will be in the larger interest of the government machinery in general and interest of educated fraternity in particular to scrap this illogical law on the grounds of equality and efficiency or else the indices of corruption may gallop further.