They feel it has become way of life for them
Senior IAS officers in Andhra Pradesh stopped complaining about long hours of meetings and umpteen presentations they have to make for Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on the ideas thrown up in the brain storming sessions. They realised it is the way of life for them after 10 months of keeping pace with him.
“It’s not because the work pressure is not getting to us. We are reconciled to this working style for the next four years with so many major milestones to cross,” a senior bureaucrat said.
But what apparently irks the IAS officers – principal secretaries, secretaries and head of departments who attend the marathon meetings – is what they call break down of discipline among the Secretariat staff in every department.
With pressing time lines set by the Chief Minister, most of the time it’s the senior IAS officers who end up doing their subordinates’ work too to prepare their presentations at short notice. “There is no mechanism to make the staff feel accountable. Barring a few senior officers and staff in every department, majority of the staff come and leave as they like making it difficult to rely on them,” an IAS officer admitted on condition of anonymity.
Given the enthusiasm and drive of the Chief Minister, who constantly questions why a scheme is not working and throws up new ideas, the senior IAS officers are under pressure, searching for workable solutions. As the senior bureaucrats are busy meeting the deadlines, they no longer have time at their disposal to extract work patiently from their staff, according to sources.
It’s unfortunate that even with the recent 43 per cent fitment, there is no change in the work culture. With employees unions gaining upper hand with the backing of political leaders, department heads have thrown up their hands. “Without strong political will and a clear message that indiscipline and shirking of work will not be tolerated, one cannot hope for things to change,” another bureaucrat said.
However, the Chief Secretary sensing the mounting work pressure on the senior IAS officers, made some changes recently doing away with his own weekly meetings of all department secretaries. They are now held once in a fortnight. For the weekly meetings with district Collectors too, the list of items in the agenda is kept short apart from pressing issues like swine flu, drinking water supply, etc., to keep the meetings short.