Lower intake into civil services due to a rapidly mounting wage bill will result in a governance deficit
It is deeply embarrassing that successive Pay Commissions have been used as vehicles to inflate salaries of Government employees and disburse public money for enhanced sarkari perks than focusing primarily on what they ought to: Reforming the governance system as a whole. The bonanza announced by the 7th Pay Commission is in the name of motivating and raising the calibre of the so-called ‘talented’ civil servant who has swotted and passed one examination and whose performance reviews once s/he has achieved the life-sinecure which is a Government job in India are largely perfunctory. As a consequence, the financial burden imposed by the Pay Commission has resulted, in the real world of governance issues, in taking a toll on recruitment of civil servants even where there is a massive shortage of these public servants. While salaries should be adequate in the Indian context, incurring an extra 0.7 per cent burden on the GDP, according to Department of Personnel and Training figures, is nothing short of scandalous. The problem, however, is neither new nor surprising. Lower recruitments can be traced back to the 1990s. The problem became more precarious at the beginning of the current decade and the past five years have only exacerbated it. Today, the situation is alarming. Given the vastness of our country and the need for a massive bureaucracy till we evolve a truly minimum Government maximum governance model, there has to be a correction in the huge load on the exchequer that salaries and perks of babudom engender, simultaneously with a ruthless crackdown on corruption which is the false argument often used for those who support pay commission handouts saying otherwise graft will increase. If you don’t have sewa bhav, don’t apply for a Government job. Otherwise, as the following data proves, vacancies will continue to be unfilled and the shortfall of personnel required to deliver the basic services that the state is responsible for will get worse. As against 1,291 vacancies announced in 2014, 1,129 in 2015 and 1,079 in 2016, this year, only 782 posts were filled for vital positions in the higher echelons of the bureaucracy. Conversely, this year’s new pay matrix saw a 23.5 per cent hike for Government employees and pensioners. India’s babus have thus received a pay and perks hike increase which far outstrips even those bequeathed to their counterparts in Europe, UK and the US not to mention several Asian countries.
The Government’s failure to fill vacancies may be highly discouraging for lakhs of not-so-young Indians who aspire to clear the UPSC examination so that, to use the lingo they do, their ‘life is set’ but that doesn’t concern us. What is of valid public concern is its impact on the ground where Indian citizens cutting across class, caste, community, gender and the rural-urban divide will suffer because the administrative machinery to serve them is depleted. India’s bureaucracy, a far cry today from its steel-frame days bar a few exceptions at every level, needs to a top to bottom overhaul. The earlier the better.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer