Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Politicians should retire first

By Dilip Awasthi

Let's start the argument all over again from the other side -  why should you RETIRE? Cricket fans were stunned when Vijay Merchant, one of the greatest Indian openers announced his retirement after scoring his highest Test score In 1951. When journalists asked him the reason, he simply said,"You should hang your boots at a stage when people ask WHY rather than WHEN."

But then Merchant was a professional sportsman. So many professionals in different fields have set such examples. We admire them but it ends there. We religiously keep following our leaders when it comes to our own retirement. For ages, our politicians have had this 'never-say-die' spirit when it has come to bowing out. We have been represented by ageing, tottering politicians of all caste and creed. Even in international forums, we have seen our 'netas' managing to reach the podium with infant-like wobbly demeanour or speaking as if it is going to be their last speech. We have seen ministers sleeping in meetings and on the stage. There have been only a paltry few whose public presence has made us proud.

What do the khadi-clad tribe of this country do? If you make a mental sketch of an Indian 'neta', you would only come across a crafty living being. He does not have a worthwhile degree but he thrives on conning his followers and people at large by making false promises. He does not have any skills but he has mastered the art of manipulating elections for himself and his party. He does not get a salary in most cases but is an expert in filling his coffers through mostly unfair means. Catch him red-handed but he can wriggle out by blaming everything on his rivals. In most cases, it will impossible to add any positive attributes especially linked to productivity in that sketch. Still, he has the last laugh as he keeps coming in and out of power till he lives. 

We believe and follow our leaders. The haggling for retirement age often comes from quarters of average performers, who want to fill their bucket till the last drop trickles. In most such cases such an attitude stems from our zest to stick to our comfort zones whether you are an employee or an employer. The will to take new challenges and explore new horizons safely rests in the cocoon we build around our respective lives in the name of security.  

Today governments everywhere in the country stay torn in choosing between increasing retirement age and retrenchment. When the Finance department raises alarm over the staggering salary bills and also the ever-increasing perks and pension, the idea of chopping off the deadwood through compulsory retirement starts looking good. But it is high time that we first figure out the usefulness of the so-called administrative system we have made. 

We just have supervisors in the bureaucratic services and no executors. Howsoever important the issue may be, the government file is created by clerks and section head clerks. Bureaucrats only sign and counter-sign these files. Similarly, an FIR is even now investigated by an inspector or sub-inspector of police. The rest of the paraphernalia including SPs, IGs and DGs just supervise. In my 38 years of journalism, I have yet not come across a senior official who has himself constructed a file or a senior IPS official has solved a case of crime.

Common sense would suggest the senior you become more is expected out of you. Can you expect a Virat Koli or Yuvraj Singh to sit back and leave the onus of performance on the younger players? You see an Amir Khan film even after so many years squarely for his performance. Linking jobs with performance and productivity can only keep you in business. While governments discuss retirement age of its employees, the country needs to decide the retirement age of its politicians. If they can work till they die, so can everybody else.

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