This ‘regularisation’ business must stop

The floodgates have opened and National Health Mission contractual employees are the latest to want a share of the ‘regularization’ sop that is being handed out by the state government just months before the elections. Demands for regularization have become a pre-poll tradition now and more often than not, the powers that be succumb to the pressures of holding on to the popular mandate. In a state that admittedly earmarks 70 per cent of its finances towards salaries for state government employees, new recruitments, as these ought to be taken as, cannot be as random as they are now. Ad hoc employees were hired for a particular purpose, on the fulfilment of which they should be let go. We all know what temporary means and contractual workers are also hired for a purpose and duration as listed in their contracts. Regardless of whether they were recruited following a proper process of selection or not, the point is that these employees were not hired for the regular post that they very often lay claim to after completing a certain number of years in service. The years spent in temporary service cannot qualify one for permanent appointment except perhaps on compassionate grounds, but can compassionate grounds apply to thousands? No. A regular post should be open for all. The practice of regularization is unhealthy at various levels. Regularization in effect means that employees who may or may not have been hired following a proper process will occupy the posts for approximately 20-30 years delaying new vacancies. En bloc regularization puts more pressure on the state exchequer and administration as compared to systematic and planned recruitments that could benefit both the state and employee. Let’s not forget, when you demand regularization, you are demanding a job. When this demand is based on the argument that you have spent ‘so’ many ‘precious/ productive’ years of your life in service, you are demanding that job on compassionate grounds, not as a right. Particularly saddening is the fact that it is ‘teachers’ who want to forego due process instead of demanding vacancies, stringency and transparency in the recruitment process, better facilities in schools, etc. A government job is not a means to provide social justice, and when it comes to teaching, it is a profession holding the immense responsibility of shaping future generations. One grows up wanting to be a ‘teacher’, not ‘government teacher’. “The next phase of our development and programme will be qualitative development and to make the people of Sikkim the best human resource in the world. Our total focus would be on qualitative development, human resource development and qualitative and life oriented education in our next government,” Chief Minister Pawan Chamling had recently said. This looks unlikely to happen if teacher recruitments are not taken seriously. The state government recently created 4,770 posts for appointment of temporary employees who have completed more than five years of service. 3,500 adhoc teachers and 1,500 teachers under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan are demanding regularization. Around a 100 NHM contractual employees are demanding regularization. About a month or so ago, a group of 44 nurses who had failed recruitment exams also demanded jobs. Last year, 50 ad hoc lecturers objected to the regularization of 19 ad hoc lecturers who were appointed on the basis of them fulfilling the required criteria even though they themselves had not passed interviews conducted by the Sikkim Public Service Commission [SPSC]. Seriously, Sikkim? Is this what we are? A state where the youth demand hand-outs? It was the ruling party which opened this Pandora’s Box in the last election by offering the regularization sop for temporary employees who have served for 5-15 years. Not a single opposition party sees anything wrong in it because the voters do not see anything wrong in it. Why? Because there is no faith in the recruitment process already in place and the blatant back door entries don’t help either. Since the privileged have been gaming the system all along, the masses of government job seekers, including those already halfway there, have no qualms about leveraging political timing to secure regularisation instead of flaunting merit to command selection since the system has consistently proven its disregard for fairness or transparency. The regularization business must however stop in order to banish the ‘dailo bhitra khutta matra…’ view that most Sikkimese hold. Only then, perhaps, can the youth think of going out into the world, taking charge of their lives, taking risks, making something of themselves. In today’s age, a government job is something you should settle for, not aspire to.