Thursday, August 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Reforming the civil services

THE Surendra Nath Committee has indeed come out with a comprehensive report to streamline the civil services. The report encompasses the system of performance appraisal (PA) of the officers for promotion. It also emphasises the need to assess the officer’s professional capabilities with a view to determining capacity building needs and suitability for particular areas of responsibility and assignments and his/her conduct with peers, juniors, elected representatives and the public.

The PA is expected to work as a tool for developing a work plan for the (forthcoming) year and assessing the officer’s performance in his/her current assignment, which includes training, study courses and deputations outside the government, based on monitorable inputs, relative to his/her peers.

The PA could also help identify genuinely exceptional work that has been accomplished. Finally, the PA would enable the officer to identify systemic shortcomings in the organisation with a view to improving governing standards.

The ideas related to the system of scrutiny through computerisation, openness, grade inflation/numeric grading, health checks, 360 degree reporting merit attention. However, the report is silent about the performance of the overall sector. In addition, promotions should also be based on the performance of the sector. For instance, the Disinvestment Secretary should be given promotion only when his sector performs well in terms of achieving the target over a given period.



Avoidable hardship

The Himachal Pradesh University has on its statute book certain ordinances which cause avoidable hardship to the student community in the state. For example, an ordinance debars a twice-failed student, regardless of the cause of failure, from seeking admission in the same class, thus jeopardising his/her academic career.

Another ordinance says that a student who improves his/her score after re-evaluation of his/her scripts would not be entitled to the benefit of promotion to the next higher class, thus rendering the student-friendly provision of re-evaluation virtually redundant. I appeal to the authorities to repeal the obnoxious ordinances.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

No water supply to our village

We are the residents of Mundhal Kalan village in Bhiwani district, Haryana. Sadly, casteism is rampant here and this is affecting the growth of the village. An offshoot of this is the acute water crisis in the village.

Our village has three mohallas — Brahman Mohalla is the first to get water supply. During the last four months, the villagers of this mohalla blocked water supply to other areas. The Bairagi and Harijan Mohallas did not get water at all. And the villagers were forced to fetch water from tubewells in the fields.

A delegation of Bairagi and Harijan Mohallas met Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala in Bhiwani but no action has been taken. Will the Chief Minister please resolve this problem?

SANDEEP FOGAAT, Mundhal Kalan (Bhiwani)

Politically correct

The Government of India’s decision to nix the idea of sending its troops to Iraq as part of the US-led stabilising force is politically correct. The US government has raised so much smoke and dust about its avowed and actual political and military aims that electing to stand by it militarily would have been like walking into a political, economic and religious minefield.

There have been reports in the mainstream press in the US about differences in the military strategy on Iraq war between the camps led by Secretary of State Colin Powell (which wanted to pursue a pragmatic approach rooted in experience acquired from ground realities in 1991 Gulf War) and the demolition squad headed by Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney (who would not like to rule out scorched earth policy even in the postwar situation).

Rumsfeld is on record having quoted the infamous Mafia boss Al Capone more than once: “You will get more with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone”. Indian troops going there might have been trapped in the crossfire between these competing groups.

India has done well to stay away from America’s hydra-headed perceptions which suffer from an acute credibility deficit.

R.C. KHANNA, Amritsar

LIC pension

Our thanks to the Prime Minister and the Union Finance Minister for introducing a new pension scheme in the form of 9 per cent interest as against a deposit with the LIC. Lock-in period of 15 years is quite unreasonable and the same was not declared in the Budget, especially when the differential interest rate is to be reimbursed by the government as social security for the aged and non-pensioners.

Giving consideration to life expectancy, the lock-in period, if unavoidable, may be fixed at maximum 10 years for 55 years aged and five years for 60 years and above.


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