On 18th October, there was message received from VM-RBISAY 'Have you registered a nominee for your bank account? Nomination helps in easy settlement of claim of deceased depositor/s. For more missed call on 14440'. This is perhaps a rare announcement on a mobile messaging system. Prima facie the message seemed authentic. What was unusual was its apparent uniqueness and perhaps the first ever flagging of a routine information in a mass dissemination channel. Many would recall that when there is a standard requirement of a nominee in all bank accounts and indeed many banks don't accept the opening of an account or a deposit unless all the columns are duly filled up. The message coming as it does on the eighth month of the Corona pandemic times, does heighten the morbidity of the times.
This is something which the media occasionally refers to and it's more than likely that it is in the brief of some governmental committee. Creating an agenda of a committee or adding to an existing agenda of a committee is probably one of the easiest acts of governance. What comes out of these agendas by way of conclusion or action is another story. The writer of these lines was put on a high powered policy committee of a major ministry in May 2020. Six months down the line this compact committee of seven has not even been convened. Reportedly, the ex-officio chairman of the committee is awaiting his elevation. Stories of this order are so many that they no longer hold interest even in a social conversation. The approach is of resignation, helplessness and the attitude of does-it-matter?
This is clearly not a happy state of mind for an administration which took charge with the by-line 'minimal government, maximum governance'. Disillusionment with the roll out processesof well-intentioned slogans can be a tricky situation. Questions of faith in the words of the executive is a cardinal point of a civil society. Embed this administrative reality into an environment of very debilitating gloom and the general mood is likely to be affected.
Consider this along with the all pervasiveness of online consultation, teaching, webinaring, committees, boards and add all that goes with it. One knows of institutions which are trying to grapple with the protocol of online interviews. In an era where talk of digitalisation is both fancied and faulted, it is difficult to swim against the stream. Nevertheless, the facts of the case are simple. The internet capacities are stretched. Often the screens show an extended use of a platform and the screen reads that the connectivity is weak. At a personal testimony the author of these lines is aware of a small household where, there is BSNL Fibre, the broadband of a major private service provider, four mobile numbers and three separate landline numbers between two people. The residence is not even 5kms away from a national highway, between two major industrial hubs. The two people in this household are serviced by two separate mobile networks, one of the mobile networks is a rather fancied one. Notwithstanding this, personal infrastructure plays hide and seek often when a conversation or internet inter-face is required. In a matter of three weeks the telephone cable has been chopped twice by some pipeline being laid somewhere. This is in less than two kilometres distance of this household. This narrative is factually correct and documented in the belief that it is not unique. Yet, if there have been any general write ups highlighting the real state of communication infrastructure at the ground level, it has yet to gain the necessary traction.
This apathy or resignation cannot be interpreted as a positive signal.
It cannot also be converted into a stick to beat the situations with, at random. The fact of the matter is that an over populated country is full of work stations manned by not just incompetent but counter efficient staff. Where there is so much talk of privileged entry into employment the demands on the system to expect performance from the incumbent has been only vaguely institutionalised. This has nothing to do with which party is in power.
Decades ago. When, with apparent controversy the election identity card system was introduced, the same incompetence pervaded the system. The writer of these lines was issued an election identity card where his first name Vinayshil was literally spelt as Vinayshit. The pun one hoped between 'shil' and 'shit' was unintentional! Then, started the travails, of trying to correct the spelling of the person's name. The system had so many layers and such documentation needed that ultimately the person had to approach an Election Commissioner whom he knew personally to get it corrected. That is another story.
The narration above, of errors and experiences on account of misspelling of names and then the regulatory system going on an overdrive, is by no means unique. A simple act of going back to the form and verifying if there was a data entry error of spelling could lubricate the correction. Instead, carelessness gets shielded by the demands made on the individual to establish authenticity and then make the correction, subject to scrutiny.
Clearly these are unhappy times. One has to ask if by ones action and acts of commission , omission or sheer negligence, one is fanning gloom, anxiety and worse. One aberration feeds another. The circle has to break somewhere. It is the responsibility of all stake holders to demand and deliver basic efficiency backed with competence. Blaming the governance processes, alone,does not help much.
Dr. Vinayshil Gautam - Internationally acclaimed management expert. Chairman, DKIF