Quest for innovative human resources management in government

Dr. VK Bahuguna

April 18, 2020, 08:02:17   

People of India and the entire worldare in the grip of deadly corona virus epidemics which has spread from China to far and wide all over the Planet Earth. The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi sensing the damage potential of this virus had declared a three week lock down in the entire country. It has been done so that the deadly virus can be prevented from spreading at community level. The virus is carrying out havoc all over the world especially in United States of America, Italy, Spain, Britain and many other countries as on 9th April more 1500,000 people have been infected and more than 89,000 people have died of corona infection.The world since time immemorial has been innovating to counter the new challenges humanity has faced and one of the challenge is how to organize the man power to meet the challenges. In the modern world a well defined and competent bureaucracy fills the gap. It however, is also blamed for incessant red tapism which proved counterproductive to the cause it spouses. It is therefore, necessary to give a dose of innovation to bureaucracy to shake of its stagnating limbs to function.

While working out strategies to meet the diverse human resources during emergencies it is often felt that the organizations and institutions are constrained to deal with emerging challenges which require quick wits, grasping the situations correctly, demand instantaneouslybut largely correct decisionsand developing a bold and coordinated action programme. This happens if the bureaucracy is efficientand where a pragmatic, accountable and sensitive well oiled system works fine during normal times. The correct trials of the competence of bureaucracy can only be assessed in emergencies like the corona pandemic engulfing the world. However, if one actor in the chain falters or is missing than the things go haywire as quickly. The latest example is the faux pas in Delhi where the lock down effect on lakhs of daily wagers and unorganized sector workers was neither visualised by the Central government nor by the Delhi Lt.Governor and Kejriwal government. In fact after the suspension of two senior IAS officers of the Delhi government it has come to be known now that the Delhi Transport Corporation Buses were ferrying people to UP Border thus completely defying the lockdown orders of Home Ministry. Thanks to Prime Minister who himself is leading from the front and takes full credit for the better handling the covid-19 by India, who knows otherwise normal ways of bureaucratic functioning perhaps could have been embroiled in red tapism. Before and after the announcement of lockdown by the Prime Minister all concerned officials of different Ministries should have been in touch with state government officials for planned handlingof the daily wagers who in panic started moving home on foot. This is a bad spot on Indian administrators handling the present crisis.  The Intelligence Bureau have also appeared to have failed in tracking the foreigners who came to India for attending the Jamat meet in good numbers  in Nizamuddin  in Delhi or its advice was not acted upon by Police and Delhi administration.

This brings us to think of innovations in managing the musty labyrinth of Indian bureaucracy in order tobe effective in visualising and quick witted in action. As of the system there are more than 65 lakh Pensioner sand 48 lakh regular employees who are paid by the government. The question is how to improvise the functional talent and approach to work of the regular employees and how to use the talent and experience of the retired government servants without committing any remuneration for their services. The retirement age in India is 60 years. Is it possible to have a provision in the rule book to use their experience gained over the years in national building without increasing the retirement dat?The average age of the humans is increasing and as per proven studies a person is at his or her best professional abilities including the sharpness and decision making capability due to the experience in the age group of 60 to 68 years of age. It is because of this that the almost all governments of the world have increased the retirement age of its employees beyond 60 years in the last few years. The retirement of United Nations employees is 65 years. In United States of America the retirement age in 66 years and it is going to be increased by 67 years by 2023. In Britain it is proposed that from 2019, the pension age will increase for both men and women, reaching 66 by 2020 and 67 between 2026 and 2028. The situation in most countries is like this in Europe but it is still 60 years in China, Malaysia, Thailand etc and other developing countries.

On age of retirement there is a sound rationale for the differences between developed and developing countries. The population of developed countries have stabilized for the past more than 150 years and due to negative population growth they lack experienced man power replacement and therefore, do not want to let go the experienced man power when they are the peak of their ability. On the contrary the developing countries have plenty of talent and facing severe unemployment among the educated youth so they can ill afford to increase the age beyond 60 years. So there is no chance to argue for increasing the retirement age in today’s scenario.

Though Indian bureaucracy at the top echelon has created several post retirement sinecure for themselves as the politicians in the Central and State governments doles it out indiscriminately without consideration of merit which is nothing but crony capitalism. These positions are being cornered by officers of IAS only with a wrong notion that every hidden talent of the country is only available within this group of civil servants. It has taken the form of quid pro quo and is the root cause of malfunctioning of the government, wastage of talent otherwise available and poor delivery. This also leads to unfair networking and lobbying among the bureaucrats.

The government should, therefore, think of an innovative way to use and harness talent and expertise from a larger pool of resource. More often than not it is realized that use of common sense is more important in decision making than the simple bookish decision making ability without use of common sense.  The Modi government is trying to bring fresh talent through lateral entry, it is however is being done on an adhoc basis which is counterproductive. The government should constitute a higher government management service and after 15 years of service all officers of organized civil services with proven capability should be allowed to be screened by the Union Public Service Commission through a written and personality test. This will also help in junking the deadwoods.

For the pensioners, it could be done by amending the pension rules and the government should retain the power to summon the retired staff and make it compulsory forthem to pledge to be available at least for 7 days in a month to the government in case their services are needed without remuneration. In order to compensate appropriately for their commuting to place of work some transport allowance per sitting can be given. It will also help the government to increases its productivity as well as efficiency and the pensioner will also get an opportunity to contribute through experience. Many duds who do not want to work will challenge this provision but may be given a try by taking an option as it will open a window of opportunity for innovation.

The government in each department should identify such works at different levels and use the large mass of talent which otherwise goes waste after retirement. There is ample opportunity to innovate on this and it may be possible to curtain the regular post retirement jobs and save money on defunct posts.

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