Monday, February 20, 2012

Which One Came First - the Egg or the Hen ?

Which one originated first, the egg or the hen?

Even I do not know for sure. It could be either. Such a situation in the Hindi speaking belt of India is commonly called the 'Anda Pahle-Murgi Pahle' situation.

Since this puzzle has been troubling the minds of the Indians for centuries, it has become very difficult for an Indian to accept something as original.

No Indian authority accepts any thing declared by an Indian citizen as such. It has to be certified by a great super personality who is above the citizen himself, however great the latter may be.

Now let me come to the specifics.

For example, let me cite an example of my friend whose predicament I witnessed today some time earlier. He is a top level officer in a large India government company and a civil servant by the definitions given in the constitution of India. But that civil servant definition now only applies for the purpose of punishing him for some misdeeds and not for any other purpose whatsoever.

This CPSU officer and those like him cannot be of any small help to the common public in any way even to the extent of certifying or attesting some very common documents that some other authorities of the government keep demanding from the common public even for very mundane things.

Because he is not a gazetted officer of the government ! By definition as per the legacy of the British administrative system, a gazetted officer is an officer of the government whose authority and position is published in the government gazette. Neither me nor my friend nor many like us have not even seen a gazette in our life time. It is such a rare kind of a document which is privy to some privileged people only. We might be doing many things for the country but those are not that important to be gazetted !
In the days when I was a student in the schools, I remember my plight to locate this 'super authority' of an officer called the 'gazetted officer' who is the government's agent to certify or attest copies of my mark lists and such other documents for submitting my applications to various institutions for higher studies.

Fortunately in the villages, the people knew the gazetted agents and representatives of the government authority, though they were a rare breed. Through that experience, I came to know that any government servant who drew a basic pay over Rs. 550/- per month ($ 11)  at that time was a gazetted officer ! Even with at this low pay standards, they were not very common and approachable ! The ones I learnt as approachable to some extent for me at that time were the doctor in a government health centre near our village and the head master of a government high school. You needed some high recommendation and approach to get your documents attested by these officers, but in the village that was easier than in the cities. That is what I learnt later.

These officers used to charge a fee for the attestation. It is believed that this amount is a legitimate one for them, though I am not sure about it even now.

Facing such difficulties in my life, I was thinking that I would never be a problem to the common people and instead I would help them out in such situations. But alas ! I could not. Though I became an officer of a central government company, drawing much more basic pay than many such gazetted officers, I later learnt that my position is not 'gazetted' and I am not empowered to 'help' the common man! In fact I am also a common helpless man like them !

Now imagine the situation when we were living in a city of population near a million where most of the officers connected with government are employees of our government owned company known otherwise as a central public sector undertaking or CPSU and none are 'gazetted'.

Imagine our predicament when we were running from pillar to post to locate a small time gazetted officer any where to 'attest' the documents of our own children ! I remember our children's pitiful looks on us as they learnt that we were such 'useless' officers !

With the times, the government bureaucrats slowly consolidated their powers in the hands of a few as more and more government services getting abolished or re-established or privatized.

When the governments, both the at the states and at the federal level, make laws and rules they seemed to make it with many loop holes, making the system prone to further litigation and interventions by the courts making the democratic system of India a complex one with no one in command and many in command all at the same time!

The good for nothing gimmick of attestation exercise also stands in a confused situation in India. Many authorities ask for attestation and equal number do not ask for it. Those who ask for it do not seem to understand the reason for which they demand it. They just framed the rules, copying the rules from some old rules from where the clause of 'attestation by a gazetted officer' also 'inadvertantly' got in. If you ask them, perhaps they would not be in a position to identify the 'gazetted officers' in any locality.

My good friend's son is an engineer working in a good company in Bangalore. He thought of studying further and taking a post graduate degree or diploma in management. For that he has to write a management aptitude test (MAT) conducted by a body 'authorized' to conduct it. Now this body has perhaps done every thing online and at the last minute demanded the poor chap to come to the test centre with his admission card duly filled in and pasted with his photograph and attested by a 'gazetted officer'. In Bangalore, he failed to locate a man or woman with that label who can perhaps help him and who possesses a rubber stamp and ink pad ready to 'attest'.

So he sent an SOS to his top officer dad sitting 4000 km away ! Fortunately there are so many 'gazetted' officers who move around too frequently flashing red beacon lights on their vehicles in the city we live which is capital of a state of India.

But who can dare to stop them to attest ?

Even if they are stopped will they do it ?

If some one dares to meet them in their offices will they be there ?

Now why at all the poor boy and the thousands like him need their photographs to be attested by someone who does not even know him or them?

The boy is original or the photograph?

Can you not devise a simpler method of making a foolproof system of conducting an aptitude test ?

Or for that matter any such things ?

But then please don't ask these questions in India.

Perhaps these things are devised for testing the ability of the candidates in locating rare and difficult persons of India. Who knows ?

If there is a will, there is a way.  

That is what they say!

1 comment:

  1. I am happy to learn that the new government of India is deciding now to do away with this colonial practice of getting documents attested by gazetted officers!


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