Infuse fresh blood in the offices

The  multiplicity of  needs in public life requires at least some government or semi-government departments to discharge certain state attributed duties to maintain law and order,  and guide socio-economic activities. Population, globalization and diversification of activities lead to division of labour. This necessitates creation of new departments/offices or their up-gradation which demands human resource to dispose of the tethered functions quickly & satisfactorily. Based on the realistic estimation & nature of work measured in Standard Inspection Units of workload, creation of staff is sanctioned followed by recruitments. A norm of sanctioned staff strength and the staff actually posted called effective strength comes into being. These staff strength oscillates with the increase and decrease in  the domain or expansion of functions. With the advent of applied digital & the computer technology, information & communication technology, networking systems quickening travel & disposal of the workload has increased but there is mounting backlog because of squeezing manpower in offices.

Presently, there is rarely a department that has full sanctioned staff strength. Consequently the disposal of cases faces short achievements and there are quality problems. Delays occur as lakhs of posts are lying vacant, leading to increase in pendency. Apart from civil departments, strategically important departments of Army, Navy and Air Force are short of sanctioned strength. In a combined shortfall of 59, 531 vacancies, there was a shortage of 7,679 officers and 20,185 Junior Commissioned Officers/ Other Ranks in Army, 1,434 officers & 14,730 Sailors in Navy and 146 officers & 15,357 Airmen in Indian Air Force. As many as 1,496 IAS Officer posts were lying vacant along with 5,580 posts of Hon’ble Judges from the two cadres only of the civil side making a total of 66,607 vacancies as on 28-2-2018.  As replied on 26-6-2019 by Central Minister of State for Personnel 31.18 lakh posts were filled against the sanctioned strength of 38.02 lakh thereby leaving 6.84 lakh posts vacant. With the haunting rate of unemployment hovering at all time high raising concerns in societal and economic fronts coupled with brain drain, filling up of the vacancies becomes vital. Moreover, the modus–operandi adopted for recruitment of the non-gazetted (and  now some gazetted) posts by the Staff Selection Commission  New Delhi through two tier system in vogue has to be quickened to finalise the ultimate selection and   appointments. Similar is the position of States/UTs; to devise ways & means to  enlarge employment  and employability to the educated unemployed is desperately needed.

Some public circles perceive that Government has been suggested to enhance the age for retirement of some services from 60 to 62, 62 to 65, 65 to 67 for clearance of these arrears. This seems to be an unsound suggestion when we have  plenty of scintillating  minds available in every discipline- academic, professional, technocratic, and scientific; and the unemployment skyrocketing.  Sixty years is almost 4/5th of life that provides  an ample period to serve, stand and build. It is  hard to understand as to how the pending cases can be reduced through enhancement of retirement age as the day for such employees will  prolong  neither to  30 hours nor the year stretch beyond  365 days nor can anybody work  non-stop nor can enhancement in age enhance mental abilities or increase working organs? As the life continues the period of enhancement will not  debar influx  of new cases. There cannot be a zero pendency also, which means seizure and stagnation, and both are undesirable. To have an efficient and effective delivery system encompassing wider man power network there is a need, at least, of filling up of the current vacancies expeditiously followed by workload related recruitment process. This will be in tandem with assurances made by all Governments  from time to time and also help ease the main problem of unemployment. Replacing retiring personnel with new recruitments and creation of new posts will enrich the departments with new type of ideas, actions, strategy, planning and human resources. Indubitably Government cannot provide jobs to all yet what can be  offered must be delivered. Elongation of service period can be a solution in situation of dearth of human resource, and closed chapters of activities.

Some offices are 30 to 40 % understaffed. Some posts are abolished with the retirees. In such state of affairs piling up of cases can be neither avoided nor early and satisfactory disposal a genuine expectation. This is surely laced with  due financial implications  but every cloud has a silver lining. Recruitment will activate demand, consumption, sales, profit, investment and production. To subsume a portion of expenditure on new recruitments, Government may have an option of strategizing the emoluments of the employees besides checking financial leakages and avoidable expenditure. The number of employees and the present nomenclature in 22 pay structures having basic pays ranging between Rs.18,000 and Rs.5,50,000 per month provide an ample scope for accommodation. A mobilization of  Rs.30,000/  per month  by way of reducing the rate  & number of allowances,  in  30 percent of  the existing  47 lakh employees downward from 22nd position  and  payment of productivity linked bonus of Rs.2,793 crore of 16.97 lakh non-gazetted employees & non-productivity linked ad hoc bonus of Rs.946 crore of 13.70 lakh made for the year 2019-20 would have sufficed for creation of  11,35,354 new posts  at an average rate of Rs.40,000/ per month over and above the existing vacancies. Such arrangement would balance the purchasing power at high prices to aggregate moderate averages arresting the speed of dearness index sans effecting the overall consumption /production besides filling the deficiency of income tax through the indirect taxes realizable on increased sales/purchases. Exploring more avenues will be a sort of ‘service inclusion’ like that of financial inclusion. Government may also like to have single common Pay Commission for all services with one periodicity instead of existing dual apparatus. Like dispensing with the past practice of presenting two budgets annually separately one as Railway Budget and the other as Civil Budget  by the same Ministry of Finance in the same Parliament of the country, switching over to one Pay Commission does not seem to be an irrelevant task. This will simplify the implementation of the service matters, rules & regulations besides removing to a great extent pay anomalies. So involvement of human resource to the optimum is a must for arrear clearance, improving quality & service delivery and not the enhancement in the age for retirement by centre or states.

The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and  Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.