The Hot Summer In Delhi: Why Everybody Wants To Have Powers Of Transfer/Posting Of Government Servants

On page 131-135 of his book “Corruption In India,” Anang Pal Malik wrote:

Socialism has numerous incentives, and many compulsions, to make persons corrupt. Socialism ordains that government servants must serve the people on barest minimum salaries, and with no perks. They can be given post specific resources like government accommodation, official vehicle, and attendants to assist them in discharging their duties effectively. So an IAS officer as collector is given a palatial bungalow, a car, and many orderlies. The same IAS officer, if transferred to the Secretariat in State Capital, has only his salary to survive-no official residence, what to say of a bungalow, no official vehicle, and no army of orderlies. So we may sing till eternity that transfer is not a punishment, but even for an honest IAS officer, such a transfer has the direct effect of drastically reducing his salary, if we monetize and add up the perks he was getting as collector. And if it is a case in a State like Maharashtra, in which the State Capital is very costly to live, the life an officer with no perks can afford crushes him so thoroughly, that the next time he gets a chance to be a collector, he makes sure not only never to fall foul of his higher ups including the minister, but also to collect bribes so as to be able to “buy” similar posts on each transfer. Government servants have become putties in the hands of politicians for a reason. Example of collector has been given only for its familiarity, similar posts and policies on perks attached to them exist in all government departments, with exactly similar consequences of transfer. For a corrupt officer a transfer may mean loss of few crores of bribe money, but for even an honest officer a transfer can almost destroy his life, such are the consequences of low salaries.
Such irrationalities abound. Senior government officers and legislators are entitled to travel First class when on duty. But their salaries at least till VI pay commission were so low that a single air travel by whole family, in cheapest airline, in Economy Class, would wipe out their total annual salary. So they do what most human beings would do in such circumstances. They find some duty in the city they are travelling to for that wedding in the family. Every time they do so, their superiors know this, their colleagues know this, their subordinates know this, and above all trade unions know this. Leaving them that much weak as officers, that much less able to command respect, and that much less able to command. They become pliant to their bosses, and the guilt is reflected in their body language. Many officers, to avoid this humiliation, opt for another kind of humiliation. They ask some contractors, some suppliers to arrange tickets, to arrange hotels, becoming vulnerable to blackmail in the process.
Even worse is the scene in case of housing. Salaries are so low that even the senior most officers can not afford to rent a house in some good locality in cities like Mumbai, Delhi; in fact in all metros and tier two cities. But the same officers are allotted government accommodation in the most sought after locations of the same cities. Similar is the case for legislators. So officers and legislators go to all kind of demeaning lengths to retain government accommodation, eroding their aura and authority in the process, humiliating themselves in the department, in the public.
In Mumbai, the market rent of the type of flats and bungalows officers get as official accommodation is normally three to four times their monthly salaries. So a transfer out of Mumbai means, in real terms, a reduction in salary by upto eighty percent. No wonder, to avoid transfer out of Mumbai, officers go to any length to ingratiate themselves with their bosses, obeying their illegal verbal orders. Legislators promise all sorts of freebies to win the elections, because a loss in election doesn’t mean just loss of power, but complete turning of the world upside down, as the perks are lost, and perks are real salaries. Socialism also means that there are hardly any economic activities in the country, so getting into a government job, and then getting posted in a metro is the only way out to a better world. The same goes for the legislators.
In fact one type of corruption creates circumstances for many other types of corruption. Each vein feeds all other veins. Corruption in education department means that government schools are worthless in the hinterland, Socialism means that there are not enough prosperous people to support a private school there, therefore an officer getting transferred into hinterland from a metro knows that education of his children stands shot, so he first tries to get the transfer cancelled using all possible stratagems, failing which he tries to retain accommodation in the metro by hook or crook, demeaning himself in the process, and demeaning the office he holds.
And from such wrong practices, the wrong practice of taking cash is then only a short distance away. It starts in trickle, soon becomes a flood, and in case of really enterprising ones, it soon becomes a mini industry within the government department.

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