Agriculture department promotion bungling– GK Impact and Verghese Report

Many days earlier a paid advertisement appeared in local newspaper (click  to view) on behalf of Jammu & Kashmir electrical engineering graduates association inviting kind attention of honorable chief minister ‘Jenab Omar Abdullah’. The text of the advertisement was interesting and read “JKEEGA invites kind attention of Hon’ble Chief Minister/Power Minister Jenab Omar Abdullah, towards the mass bungling and promotions issued vide Government order no 09-PDD of 2010 Dated: 08-01-2010 and order No 10-PDD of 2010 Dated: 08-01-2010 in Power Development Department which have been made in contravention to Supreme Court ruling titled Suraj Prakash Vs State and provisions of SRO-294 of 2005 (Reservations and promotions). To ensure justice to all sections of the community and fixing the responsibility for marring the career prospects of senior engineers, it is requested that an inquiry into the said promotions may kindly be made on the same pattern as in Agriculture Department” . How far the demands of these engineers are genuine, we are not concerned but the last words of the appeal ‘….on the same pattern as in Agriculture Department’ were interesting and note worthy.

Recent exposé of bungling and wrong doings in promotion and placement of officers in the Department of Agriculture through order No.279 of 2008 dated 7-10-2008 by this news paper and subsequent departmental and high level inquiry conducted by the government has set a trend of probable transparency and accountability within the administration. Executive and bureaucracy are vested with enormous powers and at occasion’s even very small intrusion into the system by unscrupulous elements with vested interests lead to abuse of power. To check this situation of misuse, judiciary and other associated systems work as checkmates. Still, if some part of bad intention seeps down into the system, media the most important pillar of democratic system comes to the rescue of civilized societies. No doubt, some times media oversteps in exploring the facts and indulges in model trial of the shady situations and the people involved in such dappled deals. The recent ‘Ruchika Girhotra’ case which got outright support of Indian electronic and print media, made an impact! But in certain remote corners the media was accuse of transgression and was advised to desist from creating a media trial like situation. But the fact of the matter is, if media would have not opted for outright offensive posture, powerful people like Rathore would have resorted to proverbial ‘last laugh’. It was the power of media that, after two decades placed the facts before the common man and the authorities in their real shape and size. This enormous command vested with media, particularly the print media which has a more lasting effect than the electronic media, if utilized properly and in the right direction, can revolutionize the social system and behavior of the mankind. The impact of Greater Kashmir story regarding undue and unjustified promotions and violation of service rules in department of agriculture was enormous; a can of worms got uncovered. Huge impact!  Now more voices are raised much louder from many corners, for transparency in promotions and elevation strictly on merit and seniority as prescribed within the service rules, varying from organization to organization. The above referred appeal by aggrieved engineers with a punching reference to Agriculture department related high level inquiry report is the outcome of this impact.

For last many decades these voices of dispute regarding promotions within the government establishments were quite prominent, but the elements of deceit would always thwart all moves of reforms. Authorities vested with powers to grant promotions were accused of partiality, violation of rules to flourish nepotism and above all encourage adhocracy for their own ends. Government employees of all cadres are administrated by certain general rules for their behavior, conduct ,salary (financial) and other matters but within the departments a set pattern of service rules govern the service of the employees for rational human resource development and equal opportunity for excellence and promotion. Adherence to these rules is mandatory for both the government servant (employee) and the government (employer). Any infringement or digression of rules by any of the parties amounts to breach of trust and violation of the service contract. Government being the employer has to behave more responsibly and in a justifiable manner while deciding the excellence and promotional opportunities of its employees. It is obvious, any violation will invite resistance and resentment within the ranks and in a democratic rule, system is bound to be accountable and answerable at every point of time.

The above mentioned appeal (kind attention) issued by the Jammu & Kashmir electrical engineering graduates association is the offshoot of investigation, exposé and follow-up of wrong doings in the promotions of the officers of the Agriculture Department by the Greater Kashmir. The story and subsequent developments prompted the concerned minister to order a departmental inquiry, which prima facie established the wrongdoings, partiality and favor against considerations. The departmental inquiry committee report was immediately submitted to the chief minister for further necessary action. Gauging the enormity of the exposé and the involvement of high ranking officers and some officers with vested interests of getting undue service related benefits, Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah promptly constituted a fact finding committee under the able leadership of senior IAS officer and commissioner home department Mr.Verghese Samuel. This step of Chief Minister was the right step towards the right direction in eradicating favoritism and weeding out rot of corruption from the system of governance. It is not only appreciable, but will be a mile stone towards the path of synchronizing administrative setup on the basis of justice, equality and impartiality.

In these columns we off and on criticize the system and the administrative setup for its failures and short comings. But today as a trend has been set, at least to look into the allegations of bungling, it becomes our moral duty to appreciate the step and hope for its logical conclusion strictly on merits. Any lackluster or half hearted attitude regarding the matter will invite huge criticism and will prove an utter embracing situation for the government. Normally in these situations only the administration and administrators are accused of wrong doings but the fact is, the beneficiaries of such shady deals are equally responsible for the bungling and they are instrumental in misleading the administration. These people being the real beneficiaries move to any extent in managing their covert elevation and promotions. A new trend can be set by initiating simultaneous criminal proceedings against unduly benefited officers along with the administrative officers involved in this bungling. Such move by the government will prove an effective deterrent in curbing service related bungling in future.

Human resource management on scientific lines with a touch of honesty, impartiality and sincerity is the hallmark of good governance and people’s friendly government. Managing the government employees and providing them equitable opportunity to flourish and excel is part of human resource development and management. For proper promotional opportunities and environment, government should consider broad based promotion committees headed by, not less than chief secretary in case of gazette cadre and administrative heads in case of non-gazette cadre. The committees can be made much credible by involving representatives of many other departments at the preliminary stage than just seeking their customary seal of approval on finalization of the promotion recommendations.

A ball of facts and realism has got rolling by the initiative of GK report and now it needs to be diverted in right direction for weeding out one of the oldest rots of camouflaged; favors and nepotism from the system. Verghese inquiry report will prove a watershed in reforming the administrative system and will provide the government with an effective tool to break the long lasting nexus between moles in the administration and those who are hell-bent to ruin the image of the government for their own nefarious designs. Government should accept the report and take action against all concerned within a time frame so that genuine aspirants are not denied the due promotion and opportunity of excellence well in time.

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