Bureaucrats on contract - Dr A Q Khan - Monday, February 14, 2011

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=31118&Cat=9&dt=2/14/2011

The Supreme Court has at last declared the rehiring of retired bureaucrats on contract as unconstitutional and has directed the government to relieve all such employees. This is a good judgment and one can only hope that it does not become just another case like those of the NRO, Zardari’s dual office, loan defaulters, etc. At the moment, if there is any institution that could save the country and put it on the right course, it is the Supreme Court. But to do this, it must assert itself and see to it that its judgments are implemented.

We are all aware that the country has a very inefficient system for selecting and appointing people to elite positions – the CCS and CSP tests. The basic requirement for these tests is an ordinary BA from any university and we all know what the standard of education at our universities is. These tests depend more on the interview than the written answers. The rampant corruption in the country ensures that those who have good connections or relatives in the higher echelons manage to succeed.

Very few really deserving candidates make it. Then those selected are shifted from one post to another, become “specialists” in all of them and are posted as heads of highly technical ministries (related to science and technology, education, agriculture, health, water and power, information technology). One often hears these intellectuals deliberating “expertly” on every topic on earth. They consider others to be inferior to them.

In the developed countries, each ministry has its own permanent cadre of specialised staff. Their whole professional career is spent in that ministry, thus they become more or less expert in their respective fields. Similarly, for all scientific or technical ministries there is a scientific civil service where highly competent and qualified staff is employed. When the top boss attains the age of superannuation, the next in line automatically takes over. These people are totally non-political and no government ever doubts their integrity or neutrality. Only the minister belongs to a political party. Government policies are enforced by the staff.

Unfortunately, we have an almost 200-year-old-system left by the British. At that time the British Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner used to be all-powerful. He was a good administrator and, more often than not, a scholar.

The belief that some people are indispensable and repeated extension of the services of retired non-technical people on contract is a great mistake. Gen de Gaulle quipped that the graveyards of the world are full of so-called indispensable people.

When Hazrat Saad bin Abi Waqas (RA) was in charge of Iraq and Iran, there was a Jewish administrator controlled Baghdad, Basra, Wastah, Anbar and Khozistan. The people of those areas sent a complaint to Hazrat Umer (RA) saying that the Jew was, under one pretext or another, making their lives difficult, was harassing them and making fun of them, and it had now become impossible for them to bear it any longer. “If at all he is considered indispensable, we will have to be patient, otherwise please replace him with a Muslim who will at least be more reasonable in his dealings with us. He won’t harass or trouble us unnecessarily,” they wrote.

When Hazrat Umar (RA) received this complaint he (RA) immediately sent a letter to Hazrat Saad (RA) and instructed him to sack the Jew and appoint a Muslim in his place. Upon receiving these instructions, Hazrat Saad (RA) sent a messenger on horseback to find and bring the Jew to him. In addition to this, he sent for all the administrators under his control. He interrogated the Jew and all the other administrators and concluded that no Muslim could match the abilities of the Jew.

He then sent this message to Hazrat Umar (RA): “O Amir of the Muslims! I called the Jew, interrogated him and checked his performance. I also interrogated Muslims (Arab and non-Arab alike) and could not find a single person matching the intelligence of the Jew, and I have, therefore, allowed him to carry on. If I had removed him, the administration would have suffered.”

When Hazrat Umar (RA) received this answer, he was annoyed and said: “How strange it is that people have started passing judgement on my decision and question those judgements that I consider correct. That genius, the best administrator of all times, Hazrat Umar (RA), then just scribbled this short statement on Hazrat Saad’s (RA) letter: “Maat al Yahudi,” meaning “the Jew has died.”

This could serve as advice to our rulers who consider their blue-eyed boys as indispensable. Hazrat Umar (RA) simply meant that all human beings are mortal and when one passed away, there was no option but to find a replacement, and thus no-one is indispensable. When an administrator or ruler dies, his position becomes vacant and a new person needs to be appointed.

According to Hazrat Umar (RA), the administrator in question would die sooner or later, and hence it was not acceptable to keep an unpopular, trouble-making person until nature had taken its course. If the Jew had died, Hazrat Saad (RA) would have had to fill the vacuum anyway. When Hazrat Saad (RA) received the letter back with Hazrat Umar’s (RA) comment on it, he sent for the Jew and relieved him of his post and appointed a Muslim administrator in his place.

With the passage of time it was realised that the new administrator was efficient and competent and did an excellent job. The people were happy, revenue increased and many roads and buildings were constructed. Hazrat Saad (RA) then called his senior colleagues and said: “I had praised the Jew, but Hazrat Umar’s (RA) decision was right and his judgement proved correct. (Siasatnama, by Toosi)

My point here is to stress what I said earlier. With the example of Hazrat Umar (RA) and Hazrat Saad bin Abi Waqas (RA) before us, we must realise that we are all mortal; we will die one day and no-one is indispensable. Our rulers should realise that they need to cultivate a culture in which people are trained in one particular field, that they be groomed and allowed to become experts in their respective fields and end their careers in that field with satisfaction. They should desist from nepotism, stop shunting people from one ministry to another and stop appointing non-technical people to highly technical jobs. Furthermore, government servants should be forced to stay out of politics and a proper cadre should be cultivated for each field.

If the government wants to utilise the services of some really experienced and competent retired bureaucrats, they may be engaged for a nominal honorarium to go to the relevant ministry or department – say, once a week – but they should not be given any administrative powers to interfere, or influence the work. Unless and until we develop this kind of culture, similar to that in the Western world, this country will remain backward and underdeveloped and the situation will only get worse, as has been happening for the past 62 years. Think tanks should be set up of highly competent, technical, professional experts, and they should be given projects on which to make proposals for the development of the country.

Email: ali4drkhan@gmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment