In the land of babudom

The ways of Indian bureaucracy


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Everybody's business becomes nobody's business. Organizations not driven by the profit motive of the individual promoters tend to be run purely on the basis of so much activity supposed to lead to profit-maximization rather than on actual profit-generating efforts. There is nobody to own up the business. There is, instead ,an attempt to shroud inaction under high-sounding jargon drawn from business-schools , the same portals of knowledge which are supposed to spawn a new way of doing business in the context of globalization.

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In the land of Babudom :the ways of Indian bureaucracy





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Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Public sector hygiene

The P.S.U.s have, over the years, found some innovative ways of coping with the problems of maintenance of their premises .Most of the government buildings and the premises whether owned or rented by the P.S.Us have to perpetually contend with public and their employees dirtying the premises at a faster pace than their maintenance department could cope..One of the biggest menaces is the colourful pan-stains in the corners of the staircases. The sight of the vulgar-looking blotches in the corners of the stairs is repulsive to even a casual visitor. No matter how many times you have the corners white-washed the stains come back again with the same promptness.

Every office has a chaiwallah cart and a fully-equipped pan-shop just outside the office complex and the temptation to chew betel-leaves becomes strong after downing cups of sticky chai during breaks. The employees spray all the available foot-paths with the red fluid and then the residual fluid is liberally spattered on the corners of the stairs. One of the government departments has found a very practicable solution to the problem. They had some small images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses embedded in the walls of the corners. That stopped the spray-paints on the corners once and for all.

Some of the multi-storied buildings housing our offices have toilet blocks right at the entrance of the buildings, very close to the lifts and the stair-cases. A powerful odor of urine greets the visitor as soon as he enters the building. The toilets are seldom maintained and you don’t have even running water in many of them. Lack of water acts as no deterrent to the toilet-users who also have no choice in the matter. We are very fatalistic in our general outlook and we really don’t care about their deleterious effects on the public health. The toilet blocks are designed with extreme lack of care and fitted with the poorest of the fittings. Continuous and ongoing exposure to the stench makes you entirely philosophical.At a newly opened branch of a public sector bank the piss-pots have been designed in such a way that only the tallest can train their piss-stream into them. Obviously the average Indian height has not been taken into account while fitting the pots and it takes quite a bit of acrobatic skill to use the pot without spilling the piss all over.

The public and the staff are quite content with the facility available because at several village branches the staff has to “go into the fields” to “answer the call of nature “(a glorious phrase in circulation in the P.S.U. circles!). Another related phrase in use in Indian English, incidentally ,"making water " . An Orissa politician , addressing a press conference is credited with the assertion that after becoming a minister he will" make water" in all nooks and corners of the State. In some parts of the country , when asked where an employee has gone leaving his counter his colleagues will promptly reply that he has gone to "make water "! In a public sector bank administrative office there are separate toilets for ladies , gentlemen and officers . Obviously officers belong to neither category !

Posted at 06:58 am by adukuri
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In a manner of speaking

We don’t cross our T’s and dot our I’s these days. Those were the days when we went in for prim and proper English, which alone was a passport to riches. We had a certain descendant of the British bureaucracy (of native stock, of course) whose decisions as a general manager depended upon the “quality” of the notes put up to him .By quality we did not mean the logical or technical homework behind the notes but, essentially the purity of the language used, more particularly of the grammar and the syntax . A whole lot of performance appraisals took place on the basis of how good the English was. A man joins the organization at a young age, properly backed by Wren and Martin and the Fowler and works his way up in the hierarchical levels through sheer verbal and written skills in the alien language. Promotions naturally depended upon proficiency in the language.

While the insistence on the purity of the language has considerably waned over the years the fascination for the language has remained. One would hear young mothers in Delhi airport speaking to their toddlers in English when they had not even learnt to speak. We don’t want to be missing out on the competitive edge that proficiency in the language supposedly confers in the rat-race. The divide is clear –between the urban, suave “convent”-educated English speaker and the “native”, Municipal-school-educated speaker who’s heavily accented English invites scorn in all public places .The Hindi flicks are full of stories of the native speaker of English which are found hilarious by the crowds.

Our way of speaking has gone a long way. So has our business communication. We now speak some esoteric words to describe the most commonplace thing. It is not embellishment. It is not even techie stuff. It is just that our Harvard alumni, aided by our own B-school glitterati have spawned a new phraseology for describing the most common things. Jargon is good business in today’s corporate world. The consultants are there to provide most of it. A traditional businessman would take a look at his falling business figures and attempt to change his business style or improve methods of production. Our consultants would sit with the new business managers and seriously hold closed-door conferences doing what they call “re-engineering”. The beauty of the so-called re-engineering is to get the in-house team of the organization to do all the work while our consultants watch them poring through the “processes”! The H.R pundits are engaged by organizations to do what they call “effectiveness” counseling which in fact means they 'effectively' collect the moolah while the in-house candidates sweat it out doing mock exercises.

The personnel consultants are now engaged even to conduct what they call the “assessment centre” procedures for executive selections. The consultants, professing uncanny skills in spotting executives, depend for their assessments solely on their observation of the candidates through an interaction lasting one-two days. They make these hapless guys go through the most ridiculous exercises on the basis of which they jump to outrageous conclusions bearing on the determination of the competency levels of these senior personnel! They do what they call “mapping “of the competencies through a competency matrix or whatever they call it.

In the traditional performance appraisals we talk about leadership qualities and are fairly clear as to what we mean by them because we have seen them in action. In the assessment centre procedures the tools used by these pundits are supposed to be so precise that based upon their observation of how an individual behaves in group interactions they are able to come to well-rounded conclusions about the competency levels! No one knows how anyone can relate these simulated conditions to the back-home situations! The conclusions reached are so hilarious that people within the organization talk about them for months on end citing examples of how people who are known for their inept way of handling the operations situations are rated as possessing those sterling qualities of leadership!

Posted at 06:54 am by adukuri
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Monday, January 31, 2005
Hell’s bureaucracy

The story is told of how a recent entrant at the Pearly Gates was given the choice of selecting the type of hell that he would be staying in . There were different hells for different nationalities to suit the nature and temperament of the inmate. The new Indian entrant had contempt for the desi hell and expressed his desire to choose the hell meant for other nationalities ,more particularly an American or European one which should be more comfortable. The Administrator smiled at his choice and , in view of the candidate’s previous karma of a few good deeds ,gave him the permission to see for himself the comforts in each hell and then decide where he would like to do.

The thrilled candidate first went to the American hell and found that things were really hot there .The inmates were yelling in pain as one after the other instruments of torture were being applied .He got frightened and immediately left for the German hell which could perhaps be better . Here too he found it was terrible as all Hitler’s men were manning the bureaucracy of the hell and their efficiency was legendary. This way he checked every European hell and found them all thoroughly disagreeable . He then decided to go the Indian hell where he found thousands of different nationalities waiting in the queue for admission. He was at a loss to understand why innumerable people of all nationalities queued up in front of the Indian hell with tokens indicating a possible time of admission which stretched to several aeons .He then asked the American who was standing in the queue why he preferred the Indian hell to a possibly more comfortable American hell.

The answer he received helped our candidate immediately to make up his mind in favour of the Indian hell :

A)The population here is too much and there simply is no space inside for freshers. The tokens indicate admission dates stretching to several millions of years .Cool, isnt it ?

B)The instruments of torture do not work here because they were all bought on the basis of three quotations and the L1 principle.

C)Even if the instruments worked there were no people who applied them because they would always be on some leave or other and when they attended they shouted slogans demanding more comforts and less work.

D) The top management is is in an utter state of confusion about running the institution and they have appointed some foreign consultants to suggest drastic changes in the organisational structure . The foreign consultants have been in closed door conferences with the inhouse teams who were supposed to supply all the ideas supported by the Harvard jargon of the foreign consultants. Nobody knows when these conferences will end .At least not before they collect the entire year’s fees.

D)The vigilance machinery is quite active and the officials shit in their pants when they are called upon to take any decision because nobody knows when they will be charge-sheeted for the use of their discretionary powers.

E)The high-fliers of the organisation are busy making their careers and have no time for the day to day running . They only make Long Range Plans spanning ten to fifteen years.

Posted at 05:49 am by adukuri
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Saturday, January 29, 2005
The art of Time-pass




A very amusing thing about our way of living is our ingenious methods of filling time , known by a  typical Indianism called “time-pass”  .Two brothers were travelling by a local train in Mumbai and the way one had to find standing space for oneself in the crowded train compartment left no scope for reading or any other activity forcing these two gentlemen to indulge in small talk between themselves. The talk goes on these lines :

Bhai saheb , where do you reside ?

Oh,I stay in Andheri

Surprising ! I stay there myself .By the way where in Andheri ?

In Lokhandwala complex .

Amazing . I stay there myself ! Which floor ?

The fifth floor . Don’t tell me you stay there yourself !

Of course. That is where I stay . But which apartment ?

Apartment No 501 .

Don’t tell me that . As a matter of fact I stay there myself.


At this point of time a fellow- traveler who has been listening in is thoroughly bugged :

Bhai saheb, if you  both stay in the same apartment  isn’t it intriguing that you don’t know each other ?.

The reply is classic . Of course we  know each other . We are brothers. Do you have any objection  to our little game of “time pass “ ?


Our train journeys are long and tedious. The crowds do not let you sit in peace in a corner of the compartment in a seat allotted by the Railways . There is nothing sacrosanct about any seat allotment . You will find people without reserved seats nudging you out of your own seat. The coach becomes extremely hot in summer and the gentleman in the neighbouring seat is puffing away his bidi smoke in your face . Under such circumstances what would you do except munch a packetful of roasted peanuts  slowly breaking the shells  and throwing them one by one all over the floor of the train ? A paper cone full of peanuts is a perfect “time-pass” in such circumstances. The vendors ,in fact, sell them as Time-pass . The fun consists in breaking the shells one by one and littering the place with the shells . You have got value for money .

If you visit any one of the courts in the noontime you will find hundreds of people standing under the tree or near the chaiwallah’s  cart doing absolutely nothing . A majority of them are just hangers-on of the people who have come to transact some business in the Court . As a matter of fact some of them frequent the Courts regularly with no business of their own . They are here basically for Time-Pass . Many of them love being present in the Courts  merely for the pleasure of making the people back home feel that they are important people. Many lawyers too just hang around in the courts with no specific business of their own .

The story is told of  a client who approached a judge of the high court with a request to hear his matter directly without a lawyer . The Judge told him that there were many lawyers in the Court premises and he could have his matter  argued by one of them .The client was unwilling to spend money for engaging a lawyer who would charge him a hefty fee. The Judge told him that there were so many lawyers without work that any one of them would gladly represent him for a mere Rs.10/ . The client approached one of the lawyers and requested him to represent him for a fee of Rs. 10 . The lawyers present there told him that none of them was willing to work for him for Rs. 10 . All those lawyers who worked for Rs10 have already become High Court Judges !


Posted at 01:59 am by adukuri
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Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Everybody in the organization knows except the organization itself!

There is what can be called the myopia of the organisation : the collective inability to see what everybody in the organisation knows . How that happens is a big mystery. How is it possible for the organization not to know what everybody knows? For example , in a hierarchical organization made up by several layers of functionaries a particular decision is taken by the top management of the organization on a business strategy to be adopted by it. This particular business strategy might already have been tried in the past and found not to be working. This is known to everybody except the organization. It tries out the same once again and wastes its resources – a very costly experiment which takes a lot of time to be reversed in an ethos where no ongoing evaluation of the strategies takes place. The placements and promotions to some positions too often arouse mirth in the general populace often leading to the suspicion that the organization has failed to take into account the empirical evidence already available indicating the unsuitability of the individuals considered for the positions.

But that brings us to another question. Is the view of the general populace dependable ? The management claims to have the “the big picture” and hence their decisions are more dependable , so goes the argument. There is no doubt some truth in this . The general populace is guided by narrow partisan considerations often bordering on malice towards good performers. But the ‘big picture’ is a much touted word in the echelons of the top management used to justify most of the disastrous decisions of the management. More particularly when the top management consists of seasoned bureaucrats who have come up because they have all those qualities which ensure a safe climb to the top , not because they have displayed exemplary leadership qualities .Which big picture these luminaries claim to possess is not clear because they continue to suffer from the same myopic vision they had displayed when they were at a lower level of hierarchy. The biggest joke is that the top view they claim to possess encompasses only the bald pates of the lower levels of functionaries preventing them from viewing them as whole individuals as in a peer level view !

Coming back to the organizational myopia , how often do we hear, both within and outside, that a certain individual has been promoted to so-and-so cadre although the whole organization knows that he is not fit enough to be a clerk in the same department. We cannot say that those who speak that way do so out of jealousy because 1)there is near unanimity in the view 2) these people, at least many of them, are harmless guys who do not arouse strong feelings of hatred in their colleagues. There is a case of a chairman of a public sector organization who went to the branch office he had headed some years ago only to be reminded by his erstwhile colleagues as to how much he had once floundered in affixing the right postal stamps on envelops.

That brings us to the question of how these organizations promote their people to the higher levels . Two broad yardsticks may be in place :their performance in the past and their potential for future . The performance is a very nebulous criterion as , reduced to quantitative parameters , anybody’s business figures look just like those of anybody else’s because in such organizations performance cannot be delinked from the enabling or disabling factors afforded by the environment and the organisation’s own strength in the market. Just look at the budgets given to individual branch managers of banks for resource mobilization. An aggregate figure is arrived at in the corporate center for the deposit growth for the current financial year which roughly corresponds to the increase in monetary resources (usually 15% per annum ) which is the most logical thing to happen because all the expansion must naturally be reflected in the banking assets. The resources come to the banking system because they have nowhere else to go ! In any case the customer has to come to the banks because they are there , as one would say about why people would climb Mt. Everest !

How does one distinguish one performer from another ? Clearly the performance , if any, is the result of the banks being there , not because somebody or other is there ! In the matter of deployment of funds our managers need not strain themselves too much because there is a time-tested method of cash credit which , supposedly being for financing for working capital needs of the units, continues for decades without any need for our manager to find fresh assets every year ! In such a scenario where is the scope for proactive canvassing for new business ?

It therefore follows that performance cannot be the single largest criterion for promotions. Supposing a good performance in the previous 2 or 3 assignments is taken to be the only criterion then a disaster would befall on the organization because all those who have done extremely well in utility departments or back office departments would soon be promoted as regional managers in charge of 25 to 30 business units ! For example an office manager who has done an exemplary job as an in-charge of the premises and gets “excellent” ratings and is promoted as the regional manager . What would he do as a regional manager except to ensure that the premises of his branch offices are well-kept ? A logical thing therefore would be to consider potential for future promotion .This is what actually happens ,in reality. You will see everywhere that the top management of these organizations have reached those positions not because of their performance but because of the potential as gauged by the people in charge at that time .

Now the question arises as to how potential is judged by the people in charge . In a vast organization the bosses can judge the potential of only those who are in physical proximity with them. The people who are therefore eminently suitable for future promotions are :

People who are the personal secretaries or administrative secretaries and the like
People who are posted in departments directly working under the big bosses
People who cross their paths every now and then in some capacity or other
People who are highly visible and rarely go out of their radar-views
People who have done a good turn to them somewhere by organizing public functions where the bosses have received good publicity.

These are only some of the possible candidates ideal for promotions. The important thing is what the bosses calculate from the sum total of the impressions they gather about you. The greater you are within their visibility range the higher the chances of promotions . No wonder the organization does not seem to know many things which everybody in the organization knows !

Posted at 08:01 am by adukuri
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Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Not For Me

Some time ago I was talking to a senior bureaucrat in a public sector organization. I had gone to meet him in connection with some banking transaction. He had put in long years of service in the organization and by virtue of his many years of experience considered himself an indispensable part of the organization. It was another thing that the top management did not appear to share the same enthusiasm about him. He had risen from the ranks to the present position purely on the basis of so many years of seniority and not because of any scintillating performance. Any way, out of politeness I asked him what he considered to be the biggest single contribution by him to the organization during all these years. The reply was very interesting.

According to him his single biggest achievement lay in his disposal of "NOT FOR ME'' letters/memoranda. By way of elaboration he stated that the finance department had 27 finance controllers, 25 joint finance controllers, 55 deputy finance controllers and an equal number of desk officers. Every morning the letters received register would do the rounds among these officials and letters on all clearly delineated subjects would be taken delivery of against the initials of the official concerned. The problem lay in receipt and disposal of letters dealing with subjects not falling into any of the above categories. These letters would do the rounds along with others and each of the officials would mark in bold letters NOT FOR ME on the face of the letter or the NOT FOR ME notation. It was a big headache to get rid of these letters as each day would add a few more such letters and memoranda.

Our friend took special interest in these unclaimed letters. He saw to it that every such letter was allotted to a proper official after deciding who should deal with the subject. Naturally he became very unpopular among the staff who resented extra work on their tables. He carried on regardless and was proud of the fact that he could achieve the impossible feat of ensuring that the letters received register carried NIL unclaimed letters.

A very impressive achievement indeed.

The story is apocryphal . The public sector unit has a battery of controllers, finance and otherwise, who have to be fed some work to keep them going. Elaborate systems are therefore laid down prescribing systems for receipt and disposal of letters received from customers and internal departments . Letters are important and each letter has to be accounted in such a way that it is possible to fix accountability for individual nonperformance later should the occasion arise.

Posted at 09:57 pm by adukuri
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Banking Blues

The other day a pot-bellied banker knocked at the door of a H.N.W.I. (High Net Worth Individual) to canvass business for his bank. The H.N.W.I. got the shock of his life for he never expected a blue-blooded public sector banker to approach him for business. Hardly an hour ago a suited and booted new-generation banker had approached him with a similar business proposition. After recovering from the shock our H.N.W.I. asked the public sector banker what brought about the transformation from a staid pen-pushing, rule-quoting old-timer into an aggressive customer-oriented wannabe banking professional. "Our spreads are fast disappearing ,sir ", our banker friend said ," Unless we build up volumes, we will soon be dead as dodos". The H.N.W.I. took a hard look at the banker's prosperous figure wondering if it is really true that spreads have been fast disappearing .The H.N.W.I. asked him if he was really serious about the business proposition .The banker replied in gushing enthusiasm that his bank would be happy to clinch the deal .He reeled out the merits of his proposition and apparently convinced the potential customer that his deal was certainly better than the other banker's.

The customer was thrilled .He told the banker that the deal was on. He asked him when he could draw the money. The banker hemmed and hawed and told him that he had to comply with a few minimum requirements before sanction. The requirements are as under:

Income-tax and wealth tax assessment orders for the previous three years

Profit and loss and balance sheets for the last three years

Funds flow statements for the last three years

Projected cash flow statements for the next 5years

Age-wise list of sundry creditors and sundry debtors

Details of the net worth of the guarantors with survey numbers etc. of the properties

Such other data as may be called by the bank during processing of the loan proposal

The customer queried as to the time by which money will be in his hand .The banker replied that subject to the receipt of all the requisite data and satisfactory replies to all the queries to be raised by the appraising officer the loan would take approximately 15 days .That is, after the date on which all the data are received.

Enquiries later revealed that the suited and booted gentleman had clinched the deal on the following day.

Posted at 09:56 pm by adukuri
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A Master of Queries

Mr. Deshpande, a middle-level officer of a public sector bank, had a formidable reputation as a master of queries. It was believed that no loan proposal would get past him without a slew of tough queries. His subordinates would shudder to submit any loan proposal to him for sanction as that would mean months of back-breaking work trying to answer his all-encompassing queries. At the end of it all no sanctions take place, for Mr. Deshpande would raise further installments of even tougher queries. The staff as well as the Bank's borrowers would curse their fate if the loan amounts fall under his discretionary powers. A few intrepid borrowers had tried their luck with him but found to their dismay that they had lost their precious time in chasing the loan proposal with him which they could have profitably utilized in running their businesses.

The appraising officers tried to build up a whole body of literature covering all types of queries that could be raised by him so that these could be taken care of at the time of the appraisal. This had not helped them one wee bit because no matter what queries one would anticipate from him he would come out with absolutely new queries. The better the quality of the appraisal ,the greater would be the number of the queries and tougher it would be to answer them. The borrowers tried to build up a personal rapport with him with the hope that this would ease their problems a bit. Little did they realize that Mr. Deshpande would raise his famous queries even to his mother. Querying was in his blood and there was nothing one could do about it except give up the proposal and go to another bank which was what they eventually did.

A formidable scholar, Mr. Deshpande had an inexhaustible supply of queries. He knew everything about the industry and there was no way of preempting his queries on any subject. If the loan proposal related to exports of castor seeds he would ask for detailed estimates of the global prospects of castor cultivation for the next five years. If it was an agricultural loan you had to satisfy him on the likely rainfall prospects and the availability of minor irrigation facilities backed up by expert studies on the subject. Despite all this data Mr. Deshpande would not sanction the proposal if he was not satisfied about the end-use of the credit facilities. He frowned upon the existence of multiple associate concerns and insisted that the balance sheets of all these concerns AS ON A COMMON DATE should be submitted in order to rule out the possibility of inter-locking of funds. The last-named was one of his favorite queries which would virtually mean the death-knell of the loan proposal. Everyone knew that no businessman would ever prepare balance sheets of all his concerns as on a common date.

Mr. Deshpande retired from the Bank's service recently .In the farewell speech rich tributes were paid to him extolling his contribution to the bank. Somebody remarked that his contribution to the Bank lay in the fact that during his long years of service he had not sanctioned a single loan thereby saving the Bank from the hassles of recovering them. The crowning glory was that he retired with a query – somebody raised a mischievous query on his pension papers thereby delaying the settlement of his pension.

Posted at 09:53 pm by adukuri
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Office Entertainment

A senior bureaucrat in a public sector organization was asked if he was willing to take the very attractive V.R.S. option as he had just 5 years to go for retirement. He thought about it for a day and returned the next day to tell that he would certainly not go in for it. It did not seem to make sense because the money was extremely attractive and the gentleman had absolutely no familial responsibilities which would come in the way of his hanging the boots, so to speak. Then what made him decide in favor of continuing to stay in the organization? The reason he gave was that if he were to leave the organization where else would he get such free entertainment, on tap ?

This particular gentleman, with a puckish sense of humor, would pull everybody’s legs and in the process derive enormous amount of job satisfaction. He has of course rubbed many on the wrong side, especially those who were once his peer level people who have now got up several levels above him in the organization because they had their sights set clearly without distractions and did exactly what was expected of them in order to qualify for higher positions. As a junior level officer he was putting up long-winded notes to the General Manager which would be signed by his immediate boss who had not the foggiest notion of what these notes contained. His immediate boss was certainly not known for his original ideas nor for his contribution to decision-making; he has become the boss because, as the gossip goes, he was bringing the freshest sabzi in the town for his boss’s wife.

Our man would fully take advantage of the simplicity of the boss and make him signatory to some very hilarious gaffes tucked away somewhere in the penultimate paragraph of the note about whose existence his boss had absolutely no inkling. The result was for everybody to see. The G.M. would not fail to see the gaffes and consequently “hit the ceiling” and throw the impugned folder at the signatory. The upshot of all this was some mirth in the department but certainly no full marks for our man in his Annual Performance Reviews.

Once the big boss in H.O. wrote a query in the margin on one of his notes on the business potential available to the organization at one of the shopping complexes .A mischievous reply was written just below the comments that out of the 1500 shops only 250 shops were occupied. The big boss queried again as to what happened to the balance 1250 shops. Our man wrote a reply in the margin that pigeons were roosting in the remaining shops! Our man’s boss saw the reply and developed cold feet while lending signature to the flippant reply. He then forced the officer to erase the comments using the white fluid and write a more “serious “ reply. This was duly done. When the note went to the G.M. he saw the use of the white fluid and asked for the desk officer. He asked him what had been there which was erased . The reply he gave was :“pigeons, sir”. When asked what the white fluid was for he replied with a smirk: “These are the droppings , sir.”

Posted at 09:51 pm by adukuri
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At everybody's call

A typical p.s.u. cant decide independently what it wants to do. Every other chap in the world can decide what a p.s.u. should do. Every twopenny politician of any hue can decide what a p.s.u. should do. At a public meeting the local politician can set targets for the managers of the local banks and pull them up for nonperformance.The District Collector can decide what the banker in the area is supposed to do. The local manager is totally confused as to whose instructions he has to follow.The p.s.u. is like a prostitute who is available for anybody to molest as he pleases.

It is virtually outsiders who decide what activity a p.s.u. has to pursue at any point of time.Thus a peon who has worked for 241 days in a temporary capacity in a p.s.u. can sue the latter claiming permanent employment. It is for the p.s.u. to prove in the court through protracted and expensive litigation that the chap cannot be legally entitled to employment..Every p.s.u. has a battery of legal officers and a well-stocked legal library to enable them to fight all the cases effectively. Besides every p.s.u. employs the best legal brains of the country to fight its cases. Thus a public sector unit whose core activity is either manufacturing something or provision of some service has to divert its entire time and resources fighting a few trivial cases over long periods of time abandoning what it has set out to do as mentioned in the memorandum of association.An airline company cannot get rid of its ageing airhostesses but has necessarily to absorb them in its ground staff notwithstanding the surplus of staff already staring them in the face. The nationalization of banks and insurance companies cannot be abandoned merely because the politicians say so .Nor can the main agenda of the p.s.u. be set by the insiders of the unit itself . There are a host of committees consisting of people who have nothing to do with the p.s.u. who preside over the activities of the unit. The subjects of the committees even remotely do not have anything to do with the main activity of the unit.There are Boards of Directors presiding over the day to day running of the unit , consisting of people who are not even remotely connected with the unit but are there merely because of their political clout. Actually the p.s.u.s do not belong to anyone in particular but to anyone who can lay his claim to them !

The Railways for instance belong entirely to the politicians and their hangers-on who people a host of committees who “regulate” their working. Their system of working is entirely geared towards vesting in the politicians the powers to grab for themselves or for their hangers-on seats in trains anytime of the day despite any amount of demand from public .The consideration for laying a new railwayline is not whether it is a viable proposition for the Railways but whether it is serving the constituency of a politician.Likewise the consideration for locating an oil refinery in a particular area is not its proximity to the oilfields but its situation in a certain constituency belonging to a vocal politician. Acquisition of helicopters by a p.s.u. is dictated not so much by their need for the p.s.u. itself but by their usefulness to powerful politicians .

Talking of litigation it is only a matter of surmise how many suits filed by the public a p.s.u. has to fight for decades. Roughly 40% of the suits relate to activities not related to the core activity of the P.S.U. .Thus it is understandable if a public sector bank fights legal cases for recovery of its moneys.It fights innumerable cases involving what are called industrial disputes .The industrial disputes settlement makes it appear that the p.s.u. has to devote fulltime to fighting these cases abandoning its main line of activity .The lawyers flourish . P.s.u. s are the apples eye of the lawyers. .The lawyers have been living off these p.s.u.s for decades. They have grown fatter through the years .Litigation goes on for decades uninterrupted.All the daughters of the lawyers have been duly married off with fat dowries .Their children have paid huge capitation fee at the engineering colleges .In bigger cities the high court lawyers who fight lawsuits for the p.s.u.s have acquired huge farmhouses and their children are seen roaming around in the upmarket areas in B.M.W. s.
With heavy expectations from all sections of the society the P.S.U.s are expected to make profits and do the country proud. Just imagine what would happen to our lawyer-friends if P.S.U.s don’t exist . Imagine what would happen to our judicial system if the lakhs of civil suits pending for decades are suddenly taken away from their system using the simple expedient of withdrawing all the cases and waiving all their claims with the stroke of a pen ! Imagine what would happen to the p.s.u. airlines if other p.s.u.s have withdrawn the fiat making it mandatory for their officers to travel only by the public sector airline ! If you study what they all do very closely you would notice that at least 40% of their activity , irrespective of their main line of activity , revolves around provision of employee welfare measures , besides fighting several industrial disputes taking up a major part of their time and resources. Their multifarious activities include provision of large canteens , fully- equipped hospitals along with diagnostic centres, educational institutions etc. They have long forgotten their core activity, either the basic manufacturing activity or service which they are supposed to be selling . In a public sector company they have a whole range of diagnostic and superspeciality medical facilities and dispensaries stocked with tons of medicines . They also have sports facilities , which are the envy of the best sports academies of the country .They also boast of producing the best sportsmen of the country who have been given special leave to attend coaching camps in order to brush up their sporting skills. In short the public sector units do everything except what is their core activity . In terms of the use of its resources the main line of activity occupies only a very tiny place in the public sector scheme of things ! Even the chief executive officer is appointed not so much for his proven managerial skills but merely because he happens to be the seniormost officer in the company .Which means that it is the employee-satisfaction that matters most , not share-holder value !

Posted at 09:36 pm by adukuri
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