WHAT should be the retirement age in the government? This is being fiercely debated, in the context of the 7th Pay Commission’s possible recommendation that the government adopt a formula of 33 years of service or 60 years of age, though the Ministry of Personnel has categorically denied the likelihood of such a move. It is a serious issue, and is troubling a majority of government employees. Once anybody gets a government job—at the age of 21 or 27—it comes with the assurance of a secure career, pay, healthcare, housing and other amenities. A government job means a home away from home for an employee. Whether 39 or 33 years, as the case may be, working in the government means devoting a lifetime to the system. If this assured nest-egg is shaken up, it will be a big blow to the morale of government employees. However, it is up to the government of the day to decide for how long and what kind of human resource it wants to employ. gfiles’ cover story focuses on the issue of ‘Tenure of Service’ in government. Prabhat Kumar, former Cabinet Secretary, has elaborated on it and writes, “An accepted principle of any public bureaucracy is retirement at a fixed age and not determined by the length of service, since the traditional doctrine of public service is based on the expectation of lifelong employment under government.” One has to wait till the Pay Commission submits its report and clears the mist.
October is the month of the Father of the Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s birth along with JP’s death and birth anniversaries. MG Devasahayam has started a debate on this historic month. India is passing through a major churning to decide between big vs medium vs small enterprises. The Mahatma was an ardent votary of village development and small enterprises. He said, “India lives in its villages,” but India is now talking about ‘big is bountiful’. The impact of the new thought process or change in policies will only be known in the next decade as decisions on infrastructural change take time to bring about results. Devasahayam writes, “All those in pursuit of MNCs, FDIs and huge sums of foreign money fail to answer one question—what is the unemployment rate for different skill levels and how much and what kind of employment will these massive ‘investments’ generate in the country?”
Our writer, Urmila Rao, has analysed the ‘National Skills Mission’—a dream of Prime Minister Modi to make India skilled. She writes, “Weak fundamentals such as poor existing literacy rate, healthcare facilities, sub-standard quality of vocational education and training make the target unattainable. Skill policies alone can’t address the skilling target of even half the new 502.4 million youth.” Making India skilled is a herculean task; the only solace is that India has at last started the journey to achieve this goal. Even if the nation achieves half the target, we will have won the battle.
MK Kaw’s column, “After Aurangzeb, who?” is a must-read. Kaw has dissected the role of Muslim rulers and the resultant philosophy and impact, “Basically, Modi has a problem. As a former swayamsewak of the RSS, his heart is with the Hindus. But his stint as Prime Minister has already brought home to him the compulsions of electoral arithmetic. There is not even a whisper now about the rebuilding of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, or the promulgation of a common civil code, or the abrogation of Article 370 and many such promises made in the BJP’s election manifesto.” In the end, he comments, “Even the Sangh Parivar is reluctant to upset the applecart.”