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Darbaree employees
11/13/2023 11:09:41 PM
Shafat Sultan

Have you ever wondered why government employees in general, if they have any personal issues that need redressal, wait for meeting their bosses and senior officers for hours together. This is a norm in our part of the world and as an unwritten rule; these so called bosses/senior officers make the poor employees wait endlessly or in most cases just ignore them. In this article I will restrict my discussion to government employees only and not the general public, that also has to frequent public offices almost on a daily basis for the redressal of their greivances. Despite an increased national percentage of literacy, advancement in communication & digital technology and our tall claims of faceless, responsive & transparent governance, this primitive & demeaning practice of making employees wait is overwhelmingly in vogue and a tale of every government office in the adjacent lane. In ordinary circumstances, an employee is within his/her rights to seek an appointment to meet his/her supervisor and likewise a common citizen too, to knock at any public office for redressal of his/her genuine grievance. A polite & courteous way for any public servant to deal with such matters would perhaps be to make himself/herself available during specified periods, so as to hear out the aggrieved employee/person and then take a call on the merits of a particular case, rather than make the poor employee/person wait or just ignore him/her. Such an intervention would however not preclude scheduling appointments & meeting the employees/public on the predetermined date & time.
That having been said from J&K’s standpoint there is no dearth of employees also, who like to wait for hours together to at least have a glimpse of their bosses/superiors and in the process not only waste their own time but also unabashedly encroach on the space of the public servants. The question that arises here is that how do we streamline such interactions and optimize on the time invested in this process that could be in the interests of both the public servant and the common applicant/employee Though the governments at both the center and the JK UT level have put in place workable mechanisms for the common public, for dealing with such issues like CPGRAMS (Central Public Grievance Redressal and Monitoring System) and JK – IGRAMS (Jammu & Kashmir – Integrated Grievance Redressal and Monitoring System) respectively,yet unless these supposedly robust technology driven interventions are coupled with the inherent elements of humanity, respect and compassion at the level of the public servants, the disposal of genuine grievances of the public at large shall continue to be unfulfilling. To the best of my understanding in the J&K UT government’s employees’ context there is perhaps no institutionalized mechanism thought of, as of now, for its employees that could address this issue of the subordinate employees meeting their super bosses, seamlessly, for registering their grievances in a dignified manner.
I have had the opportunity of working in The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) for a brief period of close to three years during the period 2010 to 2013. TERI is an independent & reputed not for profit policy think tank with some of its offices both within and outside India. It is a globally recognized, multi-disciplinary organization that works on issues pertaining to environment, energy, and sustainable development with capabilities in policy research, implementation, technology development and higher education. Among the many professional traits that I learnt during my tenure at TERI, under the tutelage of the great Dr. R. K. Pachauri and Ashok Jaitley (former CS of J&K), was the art of scheduling meetings. Unlike at our local government level, where meetings are invariably called at the whims of the senior officers and more often than not the politicians (when they are in power), with scant regard for checking on the availability of the invitees, professional meetings have to actually be set up as per a globally defined protocol. A mail goes out from the office of the meeting originator and the meeting date & time are narrowed down and firmed up, based on the availability of a majority of the intended stakeholders/invitees. Akhilesh Yadav was sworn in as the chief minister of UP in March 2012, at the age of 38 years.
He was CM of UP state for the period 2012-2017. As a young CM with a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Sydney, Australia and thus an environment enthusiast, he was keen to contribute to his state in the environment sector. His office in Lucknow therefore immediately after the formation of his government in UP, touched base with TERI’s head office at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi with the request to carry out a holistic environment study (based on a few technical parameters) of a few cities of UP including the capital city of Lucknow. While at TERI, given my government background, I was inter-alia responsible for communicating with a few state governments including UP on the energy & environment issues of these states. It so happened once that one of my senior colleagues at TERI was on a tour to Lucknow in connection with some assignment other than the UP CM’s office’s requisitioned environment issue. He called me from Lucknow and sought the details of the environment assignment that TERI had by now taken in hand and had started making some headway in it.
The assignment had entered a critical phase, where some key inputs of the UP state government were required to take it to the next level. I was operating from the India Habitat Centre office of TERI, New Delhi and therefore shared the details with my colleague through mail. In order to optimize his UP visit, my colleague desired to meet Akhilesh in his office (at the latter’s convenience), so as to share the assignment update with the CM, seek his guidance in registering further progress in the project and then return to New Delhi.
He therefore advised my secretary in the Delhi office to get in touch with the UP CM’s secretariat in Lucknow and seek an appointment for him. Despite my personal staff’s repeated attempts to get a slot booked for our colleague’s meeting with the CM, it didn’t work out, as the CM’s secretariat staff in Lucknow continuously kept on advising us to wait for them to steal some small window for the requested meeting. By the close of the day I myself got in touch with the principal secretary of the CM regarding the issue and he too very courteously expressed regrets citing, as he described it, the very tight schedule of the CM for the following day, as the reason.
Before I started wrapping up my office papers for the day, I called up my colleague in Lucknow, on the phone and conveyed the developments of the day to him. Concluding our conversation with the sum & substance that his proposed meeting with the UP CM would not materialize during his concurrent visit to Lucknow, I in my own ignorant way advised my senior colleague to just go to the UP CM’s office and try his luck in meeting with him.
My colleague felt a little bit offended and retorted, “I am not a DARBAREE that I will go to the CM’s office without any scheduled meeting and wait for him to get his glimpse”.
For a moment I was taken aback with the reaction of my colleague and as I called it a day at my office, I started pondering at the day’s development while driving backhome. I realized that my senior colleague at TERI (where he had worked over a considerable period of time) had a distinctively professional set of grooming much different than that of mine and that he was absolutely right in not acknowledging my weird suggestion of gate crashing into the CM’s office uninvited. From that day onwards, I religiously stopped behaving like a DARBAREE employee.
I am not a DARBAREE employee any more. Are you?
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