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Not so late; not so early – a law for accountability!

Not so late; not so early – a law for accountability!

Written by

Balamurali Balaji

Indians are waking up nowadays more than a usual style. People of Rajasthan has launched a protest seeking for a separate law for accountability, after being bitten by government officials’ vindictive attitude towards their basic demands for long time. Will this rise to the occassion type of protest help the rest of the nation to look for such a law? Will a citizen of India walk-in to a government office, and come out of it with his needs and queries fulfilled in time with no bribe being paid? Can it stop the pillar-to-pillar running of people looking for their demands to be met by the government?


The routine work in government offices is usually like a air-free, indoor, picnic spot where one can find chairs being occupied by none of the officials on time with table-tops full of piled up files. People usually wait on a bench inside or outside the office on either side of the threshold. Petitions for providing water, electricity, sanitary conditions, education and other basic utilities are set aside by government clerics. Individual applications and queries are also not given due importance; People are generally asked to come back after few days;or else directed to see another official who is yet to be present in the office. Believing in their words, with those words be the only option for their better lives, they repeat the same involuntarily hoping to get their things done one day.


Even in that mood of insensibility we Indians still have a spark in our minds asking a question, “Who does what actually in this office?” How do we get our things done right on time without wasting money in the way of bribes, without wasting time in the way of seeking permission or half-a-day or just one-day leave in our work and more importantly, without being scolded by wife and other family-members for doing something for family purposes. A man who applied for a ration card for his family has waited more than a year to get it done after tens of visits to the office. It is just a simple example. There are many other cases of higher magnitude of a high-court case about land purchasing to the case of pending justice, pending pension, pending rewards and even pending salary for the work.


Accountability is all about responsibility. Every government servant has his own duties determined in his job. Theoretically, every position in an office has specifications about the nature of job and its boundaries of responsibilities. The ways and procedures of delegating job responsibilities are very much available in the form of drafts. But in reality, none of these are practiced on a day-to-day basis. Volume of work, pressures due to sudden political and departmental decisions and lethargic approach from the superiors are found to few reasons why a government official neglects his responsibility. And, when every official does the same, a total collapse of the run happens. When a small malpractice or corruption is done in the middle of the already stalled work happens, the whole system fails. Finally, it is the last of the citizen who gets the slap. He or she has the only option to go with the failed, artificially tuned system of chaos.


A law for accountability will have to bring the specifics about every individual government servant who must be able to answer for the running or the failure of the system in divisible parts. A smaller task-level accountability must be borne by a servant to prevent the larger chaos in the system. Every office must display a board of who is who, what he can do for his customers. Some banks, insurance companies and few public corporations have such guidance to their customers as a means of direction and transparency. But, the law for accountability will be able to pinpoint the actual performance and failures of a government servant which if found mitigated duties or responsibilities in a government office, destined to face the law of court.

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