A public servant is supposed to work according to the rules and regulations, social customs and cultural norms which are valued by the people. The aim is to meet the needs of people with no space for discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste and status and social position to meet their needs.
Many times, a public servant does not do things correctly and properly in keeping with the rules and regulations but as per his/her likes and dislikes. How does that affect others? The public servant does not bother.
Amid the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of officials on duty do not strictly follow the guidelines aimed at regulating public movement. Blue eyed people are freely allowed to go anywhere while the disadvantaged sections are not allowed to even do unavoidable pieces of work like buying medicine, entering any public office and so on. Even a government issued 'Pass' is not accepted.
A person’s or an organization’s attitude to work is determined by many factors- environmental, social, cultural and ethnic prejudices. It clearly means that work ethics differs from place to place, from organization to organization and from society to society.
Work ethics in a place or a group is mostly affected by its culture. By definition, culture is the collective cultivation of the mind which enables us to recognize the members of one group or a society as different from another.
Moreover, work ethics in any society is directly related to its value system. Values are ideas, concepts and principles with which individuals, groups and societies attach strong sentiments. Each society has values and people of different societies differ on the basis of those values. For example, we had values like" Honesty is the best policy" and " work is worship". These values, however, are gone now.
In their place, our values are cheating, exploitation, blackmailing, delayed service delivery and bribery. How many employees attend duty daily? How many of them begin a day of duty on time and stay upto the day's end? Let the employees ask themselves these questions.
Rampant ills in the public service of the state have reached unprecedented levels. Tardiness, nepotism and bribery- are a darling of high-level officials. The government response to address and remove such shortcomings is limited.
Social prejudices also affect the work ethics and work culture of any society. As already said, our public service is heavily influenced by favoritism and nepotism. It is no secret that in every office, a particular individual or a group is served on priority while another one with a disadvantage suffers silently even for a legal piece of work.
Economic considerations and social prejudices together create lobbyism and groupism which guide decision making and work culture in the offices. In such a situation, rule of law takes a back seat.
Although we feel proud of our ancient times cultural and social practices, we must admit that we have lost respect for them. What we do now is to earn money even at the cost of other people's needs and wants. We live for money. We cry for money. We lie for money. We only want money.
Then, there is lack of full commitment and dedication. Promises are made but kept partly or not kept at all. The loud claims of trust in goals end in smoke because sustained efforts are not made. This kind of work culture has failed lots of plans, programs, schemes and projects. They either are left incomplete or never started.
Functions are organized to open construction works, building roads but later on, they are not completed. Sometimes bridges constructed halfway are washed away during the floods, rules and regulations about sanitation and environment protection, just remain on paper. The defaulters are freely got what they want while the general public continues to suffer.
Sometimes projects inaugurated by one party remain undone and not being followed up due to differences of opinion or due to lack of a big effort at the individual level or the group level.
Every day, our media brings reports of men promising moon in high sounding speeches. In the long run, nothing is done. These men do not often bother about the implementation of what is said.
In public service, trainings and seminars are organized about the value of time and the need to work without wasting time. However, nothing happens on ground.
How sad is that high ranking officials enjoy all that they wish while their subordinates are overworked but paid less or not paid for months together! Moreover, public servants with high qualification are given important tasks but paid either less or equal to their low qualified counter-parts.
We definitely talk of honesty and thump chests that honest and dedicated people are respected. In reality, space has shrunken for the honest and dedicated people. The dedication is considered a weaknesses in them and therefore, they are used to do even those tasks doing which is, in fact, the duty of others. If they refuse, they are punished under various lame excuses.
On the other hand, the unscrupulous people are helped, defended and befriended. In fact, we don't care for others: we only care for our own families.
We can have good work ethics and work culture only if we create the conditions favorable for it. We need to pay and promote public servants on the basis of performance. We need to reward honest and hardworking people. We need a grievance redressal mechanism which is easy to approach and quick in service delivery.
It is time that public servants introspected and work for the welfare of society with honesty and integrity.