A view on the improvement of working system in the Nagaland Civil Secretariat

As a result of heavy fire from the opposition bench in the last Assembly session the government of Nagaland has of late taken up a special action plan to improve the working system in the Nagaland Civil Secretariat by ordering its employees to reach the office before 11A.m.and to leave only after 4p.m.The security personal manning the main gate keep record of the details of the late comers, and the early goers are also made to submit a written chit/note from their respective controlling officers .Consequently, a significant increase in the number of early comers and late goers among the secretariat employees is being seen during the last two-three months although there are still a large number of habitual late comers and early goers. now it has been learn from the reliable sources that the government is going to apply the second degree method of punishment very soon by deducting a half-day salary for each late coming day and a different degree of punishment is also being worked out against the early goers .In the past also the secretariat authority tried in many ways for improvement of its working system but each of them failed because of its defects in one way or the other. Similarly today’s action plan will also certainly fail in the near future as it is defective-shortsighted, one-sided and biased. 

1.    The present attempt of the authority is limited only to the employees who attend office regularly;” come timely and go timely; no matter whether you do your duty or not”. The authority is not doing anything for improvement in attendance and sincerity in work. Now onwards a late comer will be losing a part of his salary for late-coming while a habitual absentee will be getting in full as usual. Under the present situation, whenever I fail; to reach the Secretariat Gate before 11AM, it would be safer for me to go back home. Thus the present effort of the authority aims at the opposite direction of its target .If attendance is nil, what is the meaning of enforcing punctuality? 

2.    The secretariat complex is located at an isolated location, 7kms away from the main city. The complex lacks in almost all the basic amenities of civic life. On the average I get only one day casual leave in a month whereas I need days for a number of personal, time bound works such as payment of mobile bill, landline phone bill, electricity bill, water bill etc. and making and sending for my children studying outside. After doing any of these things it is next to impossible of my part to reach office by11AM before imposing anything the government should think over these things also. If you do not think about my welfare, how can you expect a dedicated service from me?

3.    Rights imply duties. The government should fulfill all the rights of its employees if it wants to get their services to its best satisfaction. There is no difference between the work of a central government employee and that of a state government employee and as such there should not be any difference in their remunerations. We are getting HRA at a much lower rate than that of a central government employee working in Nagaland. We have been deprived of SCA, LTC, Liveries, overtime /honourium, etc. Even IAS officers are getting Children’s Education allowance whereas our Gr-Iv staffs are not getting it you want “no work no pay” but you do not want “Equal pay for equal work”. The contract employees in the Secretariat, who went to the court against the government, are drawing scale pay whereas those, who are loyal to the government, are getting a fixed pay of Rs 1,300 only per month which is much lower than the rate fixed by the State Minimum Wages act. How much can you expect from your servant who has come with an empty stomach?

You do not allow my EL to accumulate beyond 300 days, you do not want me avail EL and you do not allow me to draw half-month EL Encashment also. Under this condition if you think that you are gaining, you are wrong; you are in fact trying to kill my sincerity and efficiency. Do make it compulsory for each of your employees to avail 36days’EL every year. That shall benefit you in two ways- (1) you will get your servant with renewed vigour when he joins back after leave and (2) you will get rid of the Leave Encashment at the time of his retirement.

In the secretariat there are many employees who just draw their salary for nothing. Some never attend office and some attend office sometimes but never do any duty. However, they vacuum in the system is not being felt as the sincere are carrying the additional burden that are supposed to be borne by those privileged absentees. The authority does not want to taste the risk of punishing those employees. This has led to the creation of a group of sincere and dedicated employees in the Secretariat who work almost as slaves. They do all sorts of work in addition to their duties. They have no EL and no CL .Theirs’ is work and work only. They hardly get time to spare for their families even in time of distress .But there is no authority in the government to appreciate or reciprocate their sincerity and dedication. On the contrary the authority always tries to find fault with them. In a meeting one of the senior most responsible IAS officers in the Secretariat said,” we are government servants for 24hours a day. Any time any moment we may be called even outside working hours as the situation demand. We should always work sincerely. For this we are getting salary. We should not expect anything more than that. We are working in a complex system and in such a complex working system the authority do not have the time to appreciate or reward its employees for their sincerity and dedication”. This is completely wrong In this civilized world no employee can force its employees to work beyond 8 hours a day and therefore, the employees has the right to claim overtime for every extra hour he works. Infact, we want progress, sincerity and dedication should always be rewarded in its fittest way. If you do not reward the good, you have no right to punish the bad. Imposition without justification is oppression which leads to destruction. The need of the hour is to create a change in the mentality of the employees and to create a new sense of work culture. Reward in any form is the best way to create extra sincerity in any field of life. This will attract the wrong doers also in the right path.

4.    This time ,initially the government restricted entry of even the senior most officers also after 11 AM but later on the principal secretaries and above have been send to the free zone. Office timing should be applied equally to all government employees irrespective of their ranks and positions as all are governed by the same Rules. All government servants are same. The difference is in terms of sincerity and dedication only. The work of a sweeper, who works with outmost sincerity and dedication, is no less significant than that of a senior Secretary. In an ideal society even the elected representatives of the people should also maintain office popularity.

5.    The works of some categories of government employees in the secretariat are of different nature. Some senior level Secretaries sometimes have meetings and other programmes outside the secretariat .Similarly, some staffs attached to Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries Senior Secretaries, etc. are sometimes engaged in official works outside the secretariat by their respective bosses. Besides, there are many other unavoidable circumstances a government servant as a human being may face. Before imposing any order on punctuality government servant should have taken all these into consideration and all possible ways and means should have been worked out in order to accommodate such genuine exceptions. You called me in the morning at 7o,clock to work at your residence and after engaging me there till 12 noon you are now telling me to reach my residence and after engaging me there till 12 noon you are now telling me to reach my office gate before 11AM.This is impossible. The authority should look first and then leap.

6.    A number of self-centered officials have created a number of extra income generating chairs in the Secretariat and there are officials who have been occupying such profitable chairs almost permanently. These employees do not comply with the government order of transfer and posting. The government should no more allow this unhealthy practice to continue as it not only encourages corruption but also stands in the way to improvement of sincerity.

7.    Vacancies in the secretariat are filled up mostly with fresh candidates. This irrational practice should be stopped. The government should reciprocate the sincerity and dedication shown by its contract employees.

8.    Some strong hands in the government are very selfish. As a result decisions often come in favour of the selfish few only. We knew, attempts have been made to encroach even into the Directorates by limiting the tenure of the Head of Departments. Let us think about the Professional Tax, the only tax that we pay to the government. Even the Chief Secretary of the state pays at the same rate as that of the state pays at the same rate as that of a mere juniors level ClassII officer. Is this justified? Much depends on the IAS officers who dominate the Secretariat and have the strongest say in making the policy decisions of the government. If these IAS officers can stand collectively in the front as the symbol of sincerity and dedication, that will be half the battle. The leader must learn to rule himself first. If he cannot rule himself, he cannot rule others. A sincere and dedicated leader is always loved and obeyed by its followers. Do not try to create obedience out of fear. The need of the hour is obedience out of love.

M.W.Shooba
Nagaland Civil Secretariat, Kohima