By Sheikh Shabir
We behave and work according to our attitude towards anything and any task given to us. If we consider a piece of work or a thing important and useful, we work sincerely and seriously to do it. On the other hand, considering something trivial makes us behave casually towards that.
For example, it is the attitude of the hospital authorities that recently led to the road-side delivery by a poor woman from North Kashmir’s district Kupwara. The episode is unfortunate and could have been avoided.
A public servant must work according to the rules and regulations, social customs and cultural norms which are valued by the people. The aim is to meet the needs of people with no space for bias on the basis of race, religion, caste and status and social position.
Many times, a public servant does not do things correctly and properly in keeping with the rules and regulations but works as per his/her likes and dislikes. How does that affect others? The public servant does not bother.
A person’s or an organization’s attitude to work is determined by many factors-environmental, social, cultural and ethnic prejudices. It clearly means that work ethic differs from place to place, from organization to organization and from society to society.
Work ethics in a place or a group is mostly affected by its culture.
Moreover, work ethics in any society is directly related to its value system. Values are ideas, concepts and principles with which individuals, groups and societies attach strong sentiments. Each society has values and people of different societies differ on the basis of those values. For example, we had values like” Honesty is the best policy” and “ work is worship”. These values, however, are gone now. In their place, values like cheating, exploitation, blackmailing, delayed service delivery and bribery- are dominating our work culture.
Social prejudices also affect the work ethics and work culture of any society. An example, our public service is heavily influenced by favouritism and nepotism. It is no secret that in every office, a particular individual or a group is served on priority while another one with a disadvantage suffers silently even for a legal piece of work.
Economic considerations and social prejudices together create lobbyism and groupism which guide decision making and work culture in offices. In such a situation, the rule of law takes a back seat.
Although we feel proud of our ancient times cultural and social practices, we must admit that we have lost respect for them. What we do now is to earn money even at the cost of other people’s needs and wants. We live for money. We cry for money. We lie for money. We only want money.
Then, there is lack of full commitment and dedication. Promises are made but kept partly or not kept at all. The loud claims of good days and public prosperity end in smoke because sustained efforts are not made. This kind of work culture has failed lots of plans, programs, schemes and projects. They either are left incomplete or never started.
Functions are organized to open construction works, building roads but later on, they are not completed. Sometimes bridges constructed halfway are washed away during the floods, rules and regulations about sanitation and environment protection, just remain on paper. The defaulters freely get what they want while the general public continues to suffer.
Sometimes projects inaugurated by one party remain undone and not being followed up due to differences of opinion or due to lack of a big effort at the individual level or the group level.
Every day, our media brings reports of men promising moon in high sounding speeches. In the long run, nothing is done. These men do not often bother about the implementation of what is said.
In public service, trainings and seminars are organized about the value of time and the need to work without wasting time. However, nothing happens on the ground.
How sad is that high rank officials enjoy all that they wish while their subordinates are overworked but paid less or not paid for months together! Moreover, public servants with high qualification are given important tasks but paid either less or equal to their low qualified counter-parts.
We definitely talk of honesty and thump chests that honest and dedicated people are respected. In reality, space has shrunken for the honest and dedicated people. The dedication is considered a weaknesses in them and therefore, they are used to do even those tasks doing which is, in fact, the duty of others. If they refuse, they are punished under various lame excuses.
On the other hand, the unscrupulous people are helped, defended and befriended. In fact, we don’t care for others; we only care for our own families.
We can have good work ethics and work culture only if we create the conditions favorable for these. We need to pay and promote public servants on the basis of performance. We need to reward honest and hardworking people. We need a grievance redressal mechanism which is easy to approach and quick in service delivery. Banners, slogans can’t do any service to the general public. Period!
—The author can be reached at: Sheikhshabir518@gmail.com