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Work c(v)ulture


A government job in Kashmir is considered a ticket to “settled, happy life”– whatever that means. As hundreds of thousands of people in the valley are employed by the government given the lack of work and opportunities in the private sector, it is no surprise that a job in the public sector is considered as a huge career gain. However, coupled with poor work culture and lack of professionalism, most, if not all, of the government employees, have become laid back. It is no wonder that the incumbent Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, when he assumed office in J&K, and started understanding the grassroots, found projects that had begun decades ago still lingering on. The entire official machinery has too many grits and permeates lackadaisicality. While projects elsewhere begin with set deadlines and a proper work plan, in Kashmir, deadlines are meant to be crossed, not once but multiple times, without any repercussions to those responsible. We have some stark instances in the recent past that point out to the snail-paced work environment officials and officers have established here. Be it the Jehangir-Chowk Ram Bagh flyover, which took around a decade to complete (and parts of which are still incomplete), or widening of the Srinagar-Baramulla highway, a project still lingering after so many years: How can one expect development and prosperity in a place where public works are kept stalled for years, for one reason or another. There is not just lack of professionalism or a bad work culture at play. It is corruption as well that leads to this notion that no work – be it as large as a multi-crore project or as small as shifting of a file from one table to another­ – shall be completed on time and should be dragged on as long as it can be. And while a commoner is left to suffer, the grits in the official machinery are hardly cleared. In fact, they are reared, oiled, and replenished to ensure that the system remains the way it is: faulty, slow, and lethargic. Every other day, cases of corruption and official inefficiency being probed by the Anti Corruption Bureau come to the fore revealing how ailing the system is. How difficult can it be to establish basic accountability in a public system? One expects the administration under LG Manoj Sinha to make the move sooner and help regain the trust of people in Jammu and Kashmir. While we see that the ACB has more teeth now, it is basically an aftermath agency penalising the wrongdoers after the wrongs have happened. What is more important is setting the tone for no wrong to happen. Make government employees accountable for their work, time at office, and productivity. Have a regular quality check to know how good they are in their respective jobs and how to make the same better. Develop a proper system of ombudsmanship in every department. All of it may already be existing on paper. But one needs to set straight or, in worst cases, weed out the vultures ripping apart the culture.