Saturday, October 26, 2013

Expenditure saving

This is <a title="My Delhi Manifesto" href="" target="_blank">My Delhi Manifesto</a> in association with <a title="The Favorite community of Indian Bloggers" href="" target="_blank"></a>.

This blog does not limit itself to reforming Delhi, it being the capital city. After all, just a capital city for a nation cannot suffice as an indicator of its development index. True development rests on a holistic and broader development on a wide range of issues characterized in a wide range of places all over India. For that matter, even villages cannot be excluded for its butterfly effect on development of a nation. 

The issues addressed in this blog are keeping in line with the statement as mentioned in the details of the contest 'that any issue pertaining to nation and its development can be taken up' and it need not be limited to Delhi or any place as such. 

Now coming to the issues, they are common, be it the issue of bribery, corruption, women safety, poor administration, sanitary issues, health, water, food etc. The list goes on and on and endless like an infinite bottom of an empty vessel that needs to be ever-filled. There is a perennial thirst in such a vessel in a country like India, which is in a cusp of development struggling between extreme modernity and traditional conservatism. 

This blog would address the issue of administrative reforms in Indian government departments as the main issue, which would 

  •  centre on certain vital issues that could save the central exchequer
  •  thereby boost economic savings for India and divert them to improve really needed areas  
  •  bring a perceptible change in the functioning of the government departments by making drastic changes in the way government servants are rated; and retained for their performance and efficiency. 

Will there be any second thought to implementing these reforms that would spell a big fortune for an emerging giant like India and bring a sea-change in the day to day lives of a common man? If the answer is ‘no’ from the majority of readers, then I would give myself kudos for writing this blog ;because it's worth every thought and moment spent in bringing the issues to the fore.

A humble submission – I’m not an erudite that has read volumes of theories and considers one to be one among the best think tanks. I’m an ordinary mortal with limited education, yet by many years of bitter experience and observations, I’m trying to unite ideas, mobilize and suggest some remedial measures for a growing nation like ours. 

Pitiably, a common man’s existence including me has become so difficult even to get the most basic service from the government. Especially, the problem is more pronounced in state governments, where an ‘Aam Aadmi’ or a 'common man' is made to run from pillar to post notwithstanding the hierarchy of a prolonged chain of bureaucracy and their subordinates, specifically recruited to do their job. 

Administrative reforms 

It’s very unfortunate that even when our independence from the clutches of colonial regime would be approaching close to sixty years, some departments function in the same colonial style. The style would automatically imply departments under the Ministry of Defence that makes a heavy cut in the budgetary allocations of the Union of India. In fact, it’s a commonly agreed opinion that a major chunk of our budget is allotted for the nation’s defence. 

Though, the idea of a threat perception from our neighbors should cause genuine concerns, any government should rationalize the nature of expenditure that needs to be centered only on the core combat areas to the greatest extent possible. The crux of the issue here is to analyze and revamp the maintenance of a military set-up at organizations, where a civilian set-up could easily deliver the goods. Maintenance of service/ military personnel in areas unwarranted, adds burden to the nation in terms of heavy spending. 

Please read with interest and close attention towards our nation, the following finding by the honorable members of the V Central Pay Commission (V CPC), which rightly identified thus:- 
Excerpts of V CPC recommendations. 

Chapter 33 (Starting at page 297) 

Optimisation: Defence Services and Ordnance Factories

 33.15 Withdrawal from non -core functions 

We find that the Armed Forces have deployed their manpower in several areas not related to their core functions. If the Armed Forces withdraw from such areas, the manpower released can be utilised to meet the reported shortages of officers and men in the three services. Our specific suggestions in this regard are as under:- 

Rashtriya Rifles have been raised by drawing on the regular Cadre of the Army to perform internal security duties. The Armed Forces have represented that their deployment on internal security duties should be minimised. We also feel that the Army should legitimately be kept away from internal security chores. We, therefore, suggest that Rashtriya Rifles should be disbanded and the engaged manpower should revert to the regular cadre of the Army. Similarly, the Army should be completely withdrawn from the Assam Rifles. 

The Armed Forces need not divert their manpower to organisations like the Survey of India, Directorate General of Quality Assurance, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Military Engineering Service, Border Roads Organisation, etc. There should be a gradual civilianisation of all these organisations and the officers can be used for core functions. 

The Air Force is wasting its manpower on accounts jobs Such jobs can be fully handled by civilians. The Air Force manpower should be withdrawn from such functions. 


 'The service Headquarters arc holding officers in excess of sanctioned strength by drawing personnel from the field. These can be easily spared for field duties and their place taken by Civilians. We recommend that minimum required manpower be kept at the service HQ & and the surplus manpower released immediately for field duties.

There are a number of jobs in the Canteen Stores Department, Army Service Corps, Resettlement Wing, etc which can be held by civilians. We suggest that these organizations should be progressively civilianized. 

33. 16.  Since employment of Civilians IS a less costly proposition than that of Combatants, there is a clear case for exploring the possibility of civilianisation of posts in static, rear, and administrative support organizations and workshops in the three services. We feel that the Ministry of Defence should set up a committee to review the existing civilian-combatant ratios in different wings of the Armed Forces and InterService Organisations and identify posts for civilianization... 

 33.17. For the full operationalisation of the concept of "Reduced Colour Service Lateral Induction within Defencc Forces and Outside It" and to address other issues relating to manpower management in the Defence Forces, We recommend that the Government should constitute a National Commission on "Manpower Utilization in the Defence Forces". The proposed Commission to have a holistic approach to the issue, should comprise representatives of the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Human Resources Development and should deliberate on the proposed force mix requirement in view of the threat scenario and the reduction to be carried out through civilianisation of jobs, privatisation and contracting out of services as also integration of services and infra-structure across the three services. 

For the kind attention of think-tanks. 

 The following suggestions are to be read and understood that the hardships faced by the services is well-appreciated in the context of their serving in the combat areas. There is no doubt that persons serving in combat areas need to be well-compensated for their presence in inclement weather and rough terrains.

Sincere attempt is only made to impress upon the fact that the huge expenditure going additionally during service and post-retirement of existing service personnel in non-combat areas, needs to be immediately revisited at the best interests of the taxpayers’ money. In a country like India, where daily existence is becoming a problem for a common man, the tax paid by the people needs to be judiciously spent. Every pie is accountable for the tax paid, which cannot be allowed to drain, where it is absolutely not necessary. 

The findings quoted above are very significant by the intelligentsia of the V CPC. These findings have escaped the attention of the then government and the subsequent governments. There are chances that defence organizations that fall in the purview of these findings might have gone unnoticed, rather efforts might have deliberately made to eclipse these facts for a comfortable survival. 

The allowances that are paid to the service officers and the subordinate service personnel in uniform, does not end with the tenure of service as in the case of civilians. Pertinently, these allowances take a huge toll on the expenditure of the government even after their retirements. 

The different allowances that take a cut on the taxpayers money is mentioned as follows:- 

  • Kit maintenance allowance Washing allowance
  • Uniform allowance Free Ration for self & family (Ration consists of Rice, Eggs, Butter, Mutton, Chicken to name only a few) 
  • Free liquor
  • Concession warrants for travel for self & family in trains and flights throughout their life even after retirement (to the tune of 40%) 
  • High Insurance cover for commissioned officers to the tune of several lakhs of rupees 
  • Plethora of foreign trips for most of the serving military officers including families ( Imagine the luxury that dents a common man’s purse) 
  • Privilege of reservation in jobs in government after service tenure for self; and reservation of seats in colleges and higher studies of premium learning for children by way of service quota and ex-serviceman quota even after service. The list goes on and on. This is pure lavishness and a perfect inheritance of colonial rule that goes into the exploitation of the tax paid by civilians in a democratic nation. Mind you, innocent citizens of India foot the bill for these huge expenditures. 

How is it that these expenses are taking a heavy toll on taxpayers money? 

These allowances are not exhaustive. These are but a few of the allowances that go into the payments of Service officers/ personnel. Obviously, these allowances are meant only for deserving categories that survive under rough weather and inclement conditions. These also act as a motivator for personnel who are separated from their families. There are departments under Ministry of Defence, which employ Service Officers in hundreds, who enjoy all these benefits of services sitting in plush offices and dominate civilian domains. 

Now why would a government shower these benefits to people in uniform, who do a regular job as civilians do? The expenditure is indirectly borne by the citizens/tax payers of the nation. 

This was exactly that was identified by the honorable members of the V CPC and which should have been implemented way back after the immediate implementation of V CPC in 1998. Nearly 15 payers have passed. Even the VII CPC has been announced and yet this most important finding as quoted in the previous paragraphs has not been implemented for the benefit of the nation. 

Another important thing as rightly mentioned in the finding is that “… If the Armed Forces withdraw from such areas, the manpower released can be utilised to meet the reported shortages of officers and men in the three services” 

When there is always a hue and cry of shortage of Service officers in all the three services, the existing strength in static, administrative and quality control organizations, where no combat areas exist, can conveniently be diverted to real combat areas in the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and to the fleet in Indian Navy in the respective services.

A rupee saved is a rupee earned

Savings are accrual on earnings. A well-planned economic policy may centre on the simple maxim ‘A rupee saved is a rupee earned’. This translates into huge savings, when entire departments are changed for the better in terms of actual necessities considering the economic development of the nation and not the way, the colonial power handed over organizations to independent India. 

Some examples of organizations under Ministry of Defence that immediately qualify for civilianization. There may be many other organizations that need to be studied in the same context.

Naval Dockyards 

Naval Dockyards are classic examples, which fall under the category. Naval Dockyards are places, where ships are docked and maintained. While this area is totally a maintenance area comprising machine shops and technical facilities filled with grease and dirt, Naval Officers donned in pure white uniforms manage the show. Is it not a paradox? 

The basic question of the ‘presence of Service officers in pure white uniforms as Asst. Managers, Managers up to the level of Dockyard Superintendents in the rank of a Rear Admiral’ offers enough room for debate as to why they are required in a factory like area, where civilians can do the job. ‘These areas can be easily manned by entire civilian fraternity so that several hundreds of crores of rupees can be saved by the exchequer. Recall in detail the several allowances enlisted earlier. 

 Naval Armament Inspection organization 

‘Naval Armament Inspection organization’ is yet another organization that is purely of civilian nature. It’s an absolute quality control organization, where a major bulk of the work is executed by civilians and rest of the management like drafting and signatures are carried out by Naval Officers. The core functions are carried out by civilian technical personnel. 

This organization can immediately be taken as an avenue for study and implementation of the recommendations, as one could easily find hundreds of Service officers occupying plush positions, yet doing a 9 to 5 job as civilians do. ‘This area can be easily manned by entire civilian fraternity so that several hundreds of crores of rupees can be saved by the exchequer. Recall in detail the several allowances enlisted earlier. 

At present NAIO has an authorized complement of 167 commissioned Naval Service Officers for 727 Civilian Officers and staff personnel. You can see how tiny is this government organization, which comes under the administrative control of Vice-Chief of Naval Staff. Such a small organization is headed by the rank of a highly decorated Flag-Officer in the rank of a ‘Rear Admiral’. Can India afford the luxury of possessing so many Service Officers in this organization where no combat operations are involved and a major portion of the tasks are completed by civilian force? 

Other Quality Control Organizations under Ministry of Defence for the other two forces Viz. Air Force and Army 

Well, the parallel wings of the other forces namely the ‘Indian Air Force’ and the ‘Indian Army’ does not possess so much of strength of Service Officers. DGAQA (Director General of Air Quality Assurance) is a pure civilian organization and DGQA (Director General of Quality Assurance), which caters to the inspection and quality control requirements of the Indian Army has a scattered presence of Service officers.

Comparatively, it is obvious that DGNAI (Director General of Naval Armament Inspection – Naval Armament Inspection Organization) enjoys a highly unjustified strength of commissioned Service Officers as is obvious from the statistics projected in the previous paragraph. One can imagine the expenditure that goes into maintaining Service Officers in an organization, with respect to the allowances as enlisted earlier, where work is of civilian nature and a military hierarchy is not mandatory.

This can be understood from the fact as to how the other sister quality control organizations are managing with quality control inspecting personnel as civilians. If DGQA could find a place in the finding, as quoted in paragraph 3 under chapter 33.15 (withdrawal from non-core functions), then DGNAI certainly primarily fits in the list, taking into consideration the mammoth presence of Naval Officers in the organization.

This goes on to establish that there is enough room for further civilianization in such organizations and other areas like MES (Military Engineering Services) as recommended by the honorable members of the V CPC.

Many organizations such as above continue to function in the style that the colonial regime left them over, which needs immediate revamping. This is not an individual’s opinion, but the opinion of highly learned people like the respectable members of the ‘Fifth Central Pay Commission’, who had identified the truth in the interest of the nation. The opinion is only being recalled so that even an ordinary citizen is called upon to deliberate on the important finding.This only needs the support and impetus of the readers and the common man to impress upon the government at the best interests of the taxpayers’ money. 

The Tag of Ex-Servicemen 

Another most important thing is that people retiring in Uniform have a competitive advantage in postings and government positions with the tag of Ex-Servicemen. Their children have the advantage of preference in admissions in professional courses and colleges. While there is no doubt as said in the earlier paragraphs ‘that real combat heroes deserve these privileges’, unnecessary competition is created and unfair advantage is bestowed to officers and their wards retiring from such organizations whose core functions are non-combat. 

In an already competitive environment, children from mainstream are finding it difficult to compete in education despite attractive scoring in their academics. In this scenario, further competitions from such sources create a sense of despair in a civil society. 

A little about ‘Sahayaks’ 

 There was news in the media a few years ago that the Ministry of Defence wants to do away with ‘Sahayaks’ or soldiers, who do errand duties for Military Officers. Officers, however, resisted the move stating that it was their privilege, while soldiers reportedly wouldn't want to be treated as ‘Sahayaks’. The system is again a carry forward from the colonial regime, which treated Indian soldiers as ‘Sahayaks’ to satisfy their ego and domestic needs. 

The practice of using Civilian staff even in group ‘B’ positions like Sahayaks by ‘Service officers’ in some organizations is a sorry state of affair. They are used to buy goods in the CSD canteens, bring rations. This causes the real work to suffer for which the staff is recruited. The vicious cycle of sycophancy starts, biased approach to staff continues and people who deliver the real goods are victimized. Civilianization of qualifying defence organizations as above would perform with peak efficiency as such abuse of power would be done away with. 

Reason for the suggestion 

The reason is that most of the government departments including police stations are filled with sycophants, who do personal duties and favor for their superiors. This practice is invariably prevalent in all government departments because of which such people are promoted to higher posts. They expect the same thing to be done and the vicious cycle continues. 

This is why I've suggested that people would be the best judges, as ultimately people are the decision makers in a successful democracy like ours. For a vibrant democracy, public utilities and services should be drastically improved. 

Announcement of Separate pay commission for Armed Forces in the 7th CPC

The announcement of separate pay commission for Armed forces is likely to discriminate more by bestowing more benefits to service personnel as against civil servants. In such a scenario, the costs involved are going to phenomenal towards payment of salary and other allowances to the service fraternity as mentioned earlier. 

In the wake of the above fact, the recommendations as enlisted by the members of the 5th CPC may be viewed as having got extra-ordinarily delayed as 6th CPC has passed and the advent of the 7th CPC has taken place. These factors have taken to be consideration for improving the sagging economy of our nation.

Conclusion for the above topic 

A fast track committee is the need of the hour to look into this issue to expedite civilianization for the betterment of Indian Economy and expenditure savings. Precisely, taxpayers’ money in a civil society is accountable, for, every penny is hard-earned by the civil populace. 

I happened to see a quotation, which is worth mentioning in this context. 

 ‘A ship in a harbor is safe but that’s not what ships are built for’. 

 I hope readers get the core of the message from this single quote. 

 My due respects to military heroes in combat areas serving in rough terrains, flying at high altitudes, and sailing in rough seas. 

Yes, they do deserve the benefits. Whether to pay for the other categories as above from taxpayers’ money is a billion dollar question. 

Jai Hind. 

Improvement of public services 

We all know that our citizens are exploited and mercilessly treated in government organizations, where public services are offered. Bribery, corruption and red-tapism rule the roost and people are made to run from pillar to post. People do not even know whom to meet in the offices. State government servants behave as if they have landed from heaven and feel that they would waste a pearl or two if they talk to general public.

 The following measures are suggested to improve public services:- 

  •  Have a reception in the entrance, which should be manned continuously in the working hours. 
  • They need to guide the visiting public as to whom they should meet. 
  •  Well-painted boards should be kept in government offices in the entrance hall that highlights which service is provided by which table, and should mention the name of the person to be met. 
  •  The name of the person to be updated periodically in case some other person takes over. 
  •  The person who provides the particular service should have another board on his/her table specifying the time duration of completion of the service. This will enable the public to be aware of the average reasonable duration of the completion of the service. 
  •  Every government office should have a staff from the anti-corruption department to enable immediate complaints. 
  • An acknowledgement system should be immediately created for the complaint. 
  •  The highest officer in-charge should be made accountable for lapses if any in the above procedure.

Public would do the performance appraisal of government servants dealing with them, not the Officer –in-Charge. 

The essence of good governance is an effective public service and a satisfied citizen in terms of service provided by the public servant. In fact, a citizen needs to write the ACR / APAR (Annual confidential Report/ Annual Performance Appraisal Report) indirectly. 

Based on the quality of service and his honesty, people would comment on the nature of the government servant and record it in a register placed in the centre of any government office (State / Central). This would be more effective in departments where public frequent to avail of services like Road Transport Offices (RTOs), Taluq Offices, Revenue Departments, Panchayat offices, sales Tax office, Commercial tax office, Police stations, passport office, civil supplies office etc. The list goes on. 

A register should be kept in the centre of the office to enable entries by visiting public. This register should be named ‘Register for Quality of Service’. It should contain the name of the person availing the service, the comments on the government servant who provided the service Viz. His/her approach, his/her manners, courtesy, whether receptive to queries etc. A ‘star ranking’ is to be made at the end of the column. 

 This register should be audited once at least once in a month by officers holding very high positions in the department. This register should act as the benchmark for the performance of the government servant, and should be directly reviewed by the concerned department secretaries for the Annual Performance Appraisal Report of the concerned government servant. The register should be bilingual in English and the local language of the particular state. 

The practice of the local ‘head of the department’ reviewing his subordinates should be cancelled immediately. 

Forwarding of grievances and complaints on Group ‘A’ officers by Group ‘B’ and Group ‘C’ in Central and state governments are to be encouraged directly to secretaries and ministries. The practice of proper channel system is to be dispensed with. 

Democracy lies in the foundation of the slogan ‘For the people, of the people and by the people’. When people are utterly neglected in the process, the very basic definition of democracy becomes a mockery. People would be satisfied, when they get the best of the services from government departments. Satisfied people are assets for the nation and the nation marches forward in the path of development.

Government servants in various departments would deliver the goods efficiently, when everybody is happy and satisfied with their work output. Unfortunately, as the decision makers are officers in Group ‘A’ cadre in any government department, the monopoly in decision making results in absolute misuse of power. 

Honest and subordinate officers of Group ‘B’ and Group ‘C’ are forced to remain mute spectators and in fact are fixed in the process. Most of the irregularities do not come to light as the rules prohibit officers in the next rung of the ladder to lodge a complaint directly. The net result is arm twisting by senior officers, threatening, transfers and black mark in their Annual performance Reports. For this reason, the writing of the ACR by public was suggested. 

Straightforward and honest officers become disgruntled overtime and suffer from an utter loss of morale with the present 'channel' system in place. Though they make like to bring to light about the problems, irregularities and harassment meted out to them, the 'proper channel' system ties their hands. 

Ultimately, they are not able to do real justice to their jobs that directly/indirectly results in poor quality service to the citizens. Peaceful mindset - free from stress and anxiety for government servants, improves the timely and effective delivery of public service. 

The Acts and rules in place for government servants date back to the pre-independence days. The dos and don’ts are obsolete and have not changed with time. The rules suited for the colonial rule are still in place, which is again a paradox. Times have changed, technologies have changed, and the way government channels function also needs drastic changes. To this effect ancient rules and acts that bind government servants need to be revisited by setting up committees and panels to suit modern India. 

Public seeking more number of information through RTI should be given monetary concessions in some form or other like slightly reduced tax slabs etc. 

Any act that is framed to bring in transparency in administration is to be welcomed with open hands. However, any act retains its life only when the citizens use them regularly. This is akin to a knife, which keeps its sharpness as long as it is used. The ‘Right to information Act’ is one such wonderful act, which even I’ve used once with the postal department for a delay in payment. 

However, the act should be popularized and sops to be given to people, who use it regularly. This way, people get motivated to use the act and transparency and accountability drastically improves. The aim is to increase involvement and award incentives for its use. 

To positively review and implement all the suggestions needs a concerted effort and an undying will and co-operation from all sections of the society. Will it materialize is the query in the meanwhile. 

Jai Hind!

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