Man, that’s how the Government of India works-3
He was still on probation, with less than two years of service, when he was posted to the Divisional Office and assigned one of the important desks. He himself was not sure as to why he had been selected for that assignment. In fact there was no one in that office with less than fifteen years of service. Everyone was, therefore, a bit surprised; some looked at him with suspicion and others with curiosity. One senior colleague could not resist asking, “Are you related to the Saheb?”
But he himself was a nervous wreck for he had inherited a desk which was in shambles. There were any number of files and papers that were lying unattended and some for months. And he found himself wanting in both experience and knowledge required for dealing with the tasks assigned to him.
He decided to deal with the issues one at a time. The first pending paper he picked up was a reminder from the Head Office. In fact it was the eighth reminder. A statement that was to be sent by 31st March had not been sent even by end November. He examined the relevant case file; but he found nothing on record that would have enabled him to prepare the statement. He was scared to seek advice from the Head Clerk; he thought that he would have to explain the delay in submission of the statement to the Head Office.
He approached Mr Sharma who was senior to all the clerks working in the office. Mr Sharma addressed him the way he addressed everyone else, “Bachche, there is nothing to get worried. You are a smart boy. You can prepare this statement in half an hour. Just relax and enjoy your tea.” Mr Sharma served him a hot cup of tea from a thermos flask that he used to bring from his home, filled with hot, sugary tea.
“But there is nothing in the file except statements of previous years. There are a few statements from some of the field offices; but not from all the offices and not for all the twelve months.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. Take out the last year’s statement, increase the figures indicated for any of the eight months by five to seven per cent; choose these months randomly; and for the remaining four months decrease the last year’s figures by two to three per cent. Overall annual increase in the figure should be about five per cent.”
“It would be a fictitious statement. Will the Head Clerk approve it? Will the Saheb sign it?”
“Of course, Head Clerk will approve it; Saheb will sign it.”
He had a lurking suspicion that a statement prepared in this manner would not be approved by the Head Clerk who could question the basis on which the figures had been worked out. But, notwithstanding his apprehension, he prepared the statement in the manner suggested by Mr Sharma. With some trepidation he took the file to the Head Clerk who gave it a cursory look and asked him to leave the file on his table. No question, as to how the statement had been prepared, was fired at him. With a slight movement of his head the Head Clerk indicated him to go back to his desk.
Next day the file was back on his table; the statement had been duly signed by the Saheb. It was, as instructed by the Head Clerk, promptly despatched to the Head Office. It was late by nine months only.
He thought it fit to inform Mr Sharma who just gave him a benign smile.
“What would happen now?” he asked out of sheer curiosity.
“It will eventually find its place in the similar statements received by the Ministry in New Delhi. The Ministry will prepare its Annual Report and frame policies and programmes based on these statements. That’s how the Government works.”
(the sequence of events described is true, the characters are fictitious)