Dereliction of Duty
They say one can’t wake up a person who is pretending to be asleep. It won’t be easy to make many public servants in Manipur station themselves at their places of posting on all working days after having enjoyed the luxury of staying in their home towns for so long and reporting for work at their convenience. The Biren Singh government has not only admitted to the existence of this malfunction but also dared to straighten the erring officials. The government stated in its recent notification that it is serious about this trend as it hampers the functioning of offices as well as causes immense hardships to the public. Government officials including deputy commissioners, superintendents of police and district level officers have been directed to take due permission if they are to move out of their jurisdiction. The deputy commissioners have also been directed to immediately introduce biometric attendance system in the DC office and all DLO offices. This is a commendable move towards ensuring public servants perform their duties dutifully. However, it may be noted that this isn’t an isolated initiative. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath had recently said that biometric attendance should be started in all government schools. In fact, it’s been a while since Nagaland government has been trying to crack down on errant government employees, including teachers who keep proxies to teach on their behalf. The chief secretary of the state had also said in February this year that the heads of departments had, in its meeting, agreed to implement ‘no work no pay’ with immediate effect, besides strictly monitoring attendance and office timings. However, no update has been made available on its implementation till date, and it won’t come as a surprise if the promising ‘no work no pay’ system vanishes into thin air like past failures.
Can the government of Manipur succeed in making the officials stay in their places of posting? It won’t be easy as seen in other states but it is possible if the government has the will. The top-down approach of dealing with dereliction of duty can have a rippling effect on delivery of services to the public if successfully enforced. However, the government should ensure that all employees perform their duties and not just top-ranking officials. Sadly, many SDO office complexes in hill districts are lying vacant without employees. It is also a fact that most government schools in the hill districts face either acute shortage of teachers or rampant proxy teaching, while some educational institutions have negligible students. So, the state government’s recent directive should trickle down to remote areas and all employees across various departments. One of the best ways to tackle dereliction is introduction of biometric attendance system in all government offices and schools, at least in places where internet connection is stable. States, including Nagaland that faces similar problems should make efforts to install such devices. It’s time to set a precedence by setting the errant employees straight and penalising repeated offenders. Public support is also vital for its success.