In a bold move to confront corruption and ensure accountability within the department, the Directorate of School Education (DoSE) Nagaland recently took a significant step by exposing an “open secret.”
The DoSE’s notice last week revealed that certain employees or agents within the department were demanding or charging certain amounts to clear salary/arrear bills from employees. This revelation serves as an implicit acceptance of the prevalent practices in the corridors of power in the State’s Directorate, district, and sub-divisional offices and termed “illegal” in the notice. It is a matter of great concern that such corrupt practices have become normalised in various government departments, extending beyond the School Education.
However, the first step towards reform is acknowledging the existence of an inherent problem, and the DoSE’s notification exemplifies a pertinent course correction needed to address the issue. The DoSE’s notification is a proactive approach in that direction and needs to be appreciated and emulated in other departments.
The notification issued by the DoSE’s Principal Director not only denounced the “illegal practices” but also provided a mechanism to combat this malady. On the one hand, employees and agents were warned against engaging in such illicit activities, while a mechanism for “whistle blowing” was established to report instances of corruption. The matter, it added, can be immediately reported to the office of the DoSE Principal Director through sealed envelopes or through WhatsApp on the personal number of the Principal Director (91-7005766737).
On the other hand, reporting individuals were promised protection from retaliation, with the notice assuring that “names of those who report this will not be disclosed under any circumstances.” Strict disciplinary action was pledged against those indulging in the illegal practices.
While the DoSE’s efforts are praiseworthy, combating corruption and promoting accountability demands a comprehensive approach across all government sectors. Within the department, the drive towards accountability must be driven by tackling the root cause of the instant issue: ensuring that all salary and arrear bills are processed and cleared in a timely manner and streamlined transparently. Any anomalies reported must be swiftly acted upon and dealt with comprehensively to guarantee compliance.
Besides, there is a need for a culture of integrity by promoting ethical values and rewarding employees for upholding these values. The employees as well as the general public must also be sensitized on anti-corruption laws and regulations. Any corrupt act involves two parties, and often in the case of Nagaland, the general public also looks for loopholes or resort to “short-cut methods” to get things done, perpetuating a vicious cycle of corrupt practices.
By implementing a proactive approach, the DoSE’s move has shown a way forward to break the vicious cycle. It must also be noted that curbing corrupt practices is not a one-time effort; it requires sustained commitment and collaboration from all stakeholders, including the government, civil society, and the general public. The DoSE has set an inspiring precedent, and it is now the collective responsibility of all government departments and the citizens of Nagaland to join hands in the fight against corruption.
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