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By the Way

Red tapism prevails

red tepism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought details about movement of files, particularly those files pending in the offices of Cabinet Ministers for three years. It was in response to grievances raised by citizens. What action was taken has not been disclosed. Modi has said many times that the travel time of files should be minimised. The menace of holding onto files is not only vogue among ministers but also civil servants. The practice is more rampant in states. The Fifth Central Pay Commission had the following to say on the public impression about civil servants: “Not only are public servants perceived to be too many in number, it is also believed that they do not contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP).” Public servants are alleged to invariably come late to office, spend a large part of the day sipping tea, smoking, and indulging in gossip, and leave office early. Consequently, productivity is said to be abysmally low, estimates of their actual working hours ranging from one to two-and-a-half hours in a day. One wonders why is red tapism so prevalent, especially in the states. Most of the time Chief Ministers are an insecure species. Pressure of MLAs to get their job done is so heavy that to seek any administrative reforms seems almost impossible. One will be surprised to know that under normal circumstances in most states, the movement of one file takes 20 to 30 days. It has been observed a single file travels through eight to nine officers. If any officer puts an objection, then nobody knows how many days it will take to have a decision. The central government has instructed officials that file movements should be restricted to a maximum of four officers. The dictum sounds good, but state civil servants work at their own pace and time, because most of the Chief Ministers are not accustomed to the procedural framework and they don’t have zeal to reform the system. So adhocism prevails and their coterie of officers ensure that files from the Chief Ministers office don’t move faster.

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