Sahab Is Never Available
The bell rings repeatedly but there is no one to pick up the phone. You keep dialing the
number, but no one attends to the call. We largely get this feedback on any discussion
regarding connecting to government offices on the landline numbers. In the offices of
the Secretaries to the Government, calls made on landline are answered. The standard
response is – Boss is in a meeting. The call is then disconnected.
Media persons often need to talk to officers for their viewpoint regarding a story. A
news report is regarded incomplete if you don’t have the version of the government
functionary – who is a character in your news report mostly for adverse reasons.
A major problem faced by media persons is that the officer concerned does not receive
your call on his/her mobile number. You try speaking on the landline, but there is no
one to receive the call.
My colleague Sheikh Sameer was doing a story for the current edition on change of the
examination season from October/ November to March/ April. He wanted to speak to
some concerned official regarding the merits and drawbacks of this decision by the
government. He repeatedly dialed the landline number of the office of the Chairman of
the Board of school education, SSRB, Secretary to the Government and other offices.
None of the above offices answered the call. It seems that the phones have been
provided to government departments only to make outgoing calls. To receive the calls is
seemingly not their mandate.
Official apathy is unfortunately on the surge despite serious attempts at the highest
level for an efficient administration. Upon discussing this problem, one finds that there
is consensus among people that claims about providing transparent and efficient
administration are more rhetorical than practical.
It will perhaps take years to clean the rot in the system. One wonders whether the
government shall have to invoke Article 265 and Article 311 Clause A(c) of the
Constitution to deal with delinquent government officers.