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Fixing Things


Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami’s surprise inspection at the Dehradun RTO has underlined, once again, the administrative lapses that have become normal practice in government offices. According to the ‘absent’ RTO, he was away to Vikasnagar on official work. If that is true, the question is: why did not anybody at his office inform the CM about this? It would have saved embarrassment all around. The inspection will, of course, ensure punctuality in government offices for maybe a fortnight and then things are likely to return to normal. And the CM will have got back to making the rounds of the various temples in the state.

Actually, at offices like the RTO, the functioning is quite smooth if a broker is engaged. Otherwise, the rules are such that an applicant can be kept going around in circles for weeks. Attempts have been made to digitalise functioning but it seems not much thought has gone into making it user-friendly. Once again, ‘expert’ help is needed.

The same goes for other government offices that have a public interface, such as the MDDA or the Municipality. The greater the drag in such operations, the more it impacts on the economy as a whole. So, it is one thing to hold summits, workshops and meeting with investors and industrialists but if it is the clerks in dusty offices who are going to dictate the terms, little is going to be achieved.

So, the occasional ‘inspection’ is good, but it will take much more to clean these Augean Stables. And in the government services, it starts at the top. If the big shots are committed professionals with the requisite skills, they will naturally expect only the best from their subordinates. There is also greater need for specialisation – the day of the generalist is long gone. Reform has been sought for long in this regard, but little has been done. Rather than wait for policy to be formulated at the national level, steps can be taken in this direction in the state by identifying the strengths and skills of individual officers and posting them accordingly. It has already been seen how one officer, unsuited to a post, has put an important institution out of kilter and, unless action is taken soon, there is a scandal in the offing there. And, of course, there are officials who have distinguished themselves over the years because they had the natural skills for the job. Hopefully, after the bypoll is over, the CM will address these issues with the necessary seriousness and application.