Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some Implications of Punjab Civil Services (Rationalisation of Certain Conditions of Services) Act 2011

Shadow over democracy

By Rajesh Kumar Sharma

As I adjust the keyboard this Sunday morning to write on some recent legislation in Punjab, the flutter of newspapers crashing like blinded bats into the porch prompts me to go out and collect their scattered pages. Glancing over the headlines, the eyes pause over Punjabi Tribune.  ‘Treasury pays Rs 3.14 crores for the treatment of CM’s Wife’ – the headline is blabbering morosely. 

Not a week ago the paper had carried the news that the state government had exempted King’s XI from payment of Rs 2 crores worth of taxes. On another page the same day it reported the enactment of the Punjab Civil Services (Rationalisation of Certain Conditions of Services) Act 2011. I visited the state government’s website to see if I could read the text of the Act. I was disappointed. When the Punjab Special Security Group Act 2010 and the Punjab (Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property) Act 2010 were enacted some months back, I had to ask people online to send texts of the two Acts. Someone had then scanned the pages and emailed them.

Why do people not have easy access to legislation? Why is proposed legislation shrouded in secrecy? Has the government lost confidence in the people? Are we still a democracy? I am sure everyone in the government needs a course in the Constitution of India, though I cannot say if the education will safeguard the Constitution or contribute to its further subversion.
If you take a look at what the press has been reporting about the Punjab Civil Services (Rationalisation of Certain Conditions of Services) Act 2011, you will agree that the Act has been titled rather badly. It actually deserves to be called the Punjab Restoration of Slavery Act 2011.

The Act splits its employees into a hierarchy that is medieval and colonial to say the least and consigns the Right to Equality to a shredder installed in some cunning bureaucrat’s office. How can you, under the present Constitution of India which is still not suspended, treat some employees with that raw discrimination? Why not apply the same rules to all? Are IAS and PCS employees not employees? Will the government look up the meaning of ‘employee’ in the previous Acts? Clearly, there is an attempt to divide the people into the rulers and the ruled, with the bureaucracy being confidentially co-opted, through a legislative delusion, by self-styled rulers.

The Act does not stop at dividing the people but goes on to assault the very dignity of everyone who hopes to be employed by the state in future (but with immediate effect!). For three years, extendable to five at the perverse whim of your boss, you will slave without equal salary, without any allowances that are actually not gifts of charity but your lawful claims, and without any security. This period of your life and work will not count towards your promotions; you will earn no increments for it; your rights to leave of various kinds shall also stand truncated. In other words, in the eyes of the government you will not have existed for any good during these years. By the time the years pass, the government hopes to have accomplished what the slave owners of old could not: broken you in like horses to pull the chariots of the princes. You will have forgotten what it means to stand up for your rights and demand justice. You will have erased the sign of interrogation from your memory and ethical consciousness. 

The government knows it has the support of enormously subtle machinery of corporate media to aid you in the process of forgetting. And it understands that words like ‘rationalisation’ can persuade you, against your deepest gut feeling, to submit with a smile of incomprehension to the government’s ‘better reason’. If this is reason in its monstrous economic avatar today, what kind of reason then explains the government’s mindless splurging from public exchequer? They tell us every time someone points this out that they have followed the rules. When reason follows rules without the rules following reason, does it not say something about the state of democracy and its future? Particularly when rules and laws are secretively framed, not subjected to popular debate even where evidently necessary, and passed in what seems to be apathy at best and torpor at worst?  The truth is that economic ‘rationalisation’ is only a fig leaf to cover up the encroachment of democratic spaces and to erase the traces of rape of people’s sense of self-respect and dignity. 

So much for Punjabiyat and Bharatiyata and their sworn guardians.


Daljit Ami said...

Extravagant governments make extraordinary laws to tame citizenry.

Punjabi said...

I agree with you. Punjab Will now heading where with no future. IAS and PCS should also be covered in this act. Badal and its govt should also be given only basic pay and no benefits and allow people to recall them. Govt should also explain how a clerk in chandigarh survive for mere Rs.6000/- per month for three consecutive years. How it is possible??????????? It is act of shame...

M L Raina said...

This is spot-on Rajesh.You have hit the nail on the bureaucrat's cranium(that is if they have any in the first place).Unfortunately we meekly accept the service conditions or else we are in danger of losing our jobs.An incident bears recall.As a small-time college lecturer in Kashmir about fifty years ago,I was asked to coach the education minister's kin in the English language(the principal had recommended me to curry ministerial favour). I couldnt say no but,fortunately for me, my putative ward didnt like my method of teaching and asked her father to look for a 'less haughty' tutor. Within a month I was posted elsewhere.

Badri Raina said...

grotesque gloss on our 'modernity'; who are we?

vs said...

I read your views regarding Rationalisation of civil services act 2011. I found them very very correct. Can you advice me if anything can be done legally or by any other way against this act. Is it not against the constitution? Is their any way? Future of many people is affected. How can such an act can be passed in assembly? and even opposition was involved in it. Is their any way out?


Anonymous said...

i am a teacher in a Govt. School. teaching computers for the the last 6 years.
i was searching the copy of the Act and i came across your article.

Somehow me & 10,000 friends are at a critical stage as Govt. regularized our services from Ist July 2011.
but now we uncertain about our futures as this act came from nowhere.

I have been searching the full copy of this act as soon as it was mentioned in the newspapers. i went to Central state library but couldn't find it. i would like to request you if you have the copy then could you please give it to me or e-mail me ? or suggest where from i could get it !

i'll be very thankful to you

Guriqbal Singh Amritsar said...

to anonymous:
I am also a computer teacher working from last 6 yrs on contract. Govt is not showing copies of this act publicly. They are keeping this secret. But soon we will find copy this ACT and upload it to website so that everyone can read it.

Anonymous said...

this is very right sir. we r definitely heading towards slavery by our own people. this sarkar shud be thrown out of power and this country needs more of anna hazares and specially our state punjab. time really has cum so dat we literate people shud cum forward.

Anonymous said...

act passed secretly especially when anna hazare was fighting for corruption

crores rupees without any account disbursed through sangat darshan

Anonymous said...

this is truely discriminational. the bureaucracy have kept themselves immune to all this bungling. who then wants to remain or come to punjab