What would happen if fifty percent of our bureaucracy were retired overnight? Would work grind to a halt? Would it perhaps slow down? Would the quality of work be adversely affected? No, no and no!
There is a large number of bureaucrats who cherish the belief that having worked so hard to enter the charmed circle of bureaucracy, they are entitled to a lifetime of respect/awe/deference from the tax payer as well as a salary (which of course the humble tax payer makes possible!) without really delivering any tangible outcomes in office.If a few perquisites are thrown in as well, such as residential accommodation at a posh address, perhaps membership of the Gymkhana club(or its equivalent), all the better! They devote themselves to doing all those things that they hold meaningful and significant in life, such as playing golf, and glance in at the office for a couple of hours a day, sometimes a couple of hours a week.
Then there are those who treat the job like the proverbial golden goose, and focus all their energies on securing those postings where they can lay their hands on the largest, shiniest golden eggs. You can't really expect them to put in 8 hours of work a day, can you, when they have better things to do?
A significant percentage of bureaucrats are too dispirited, too de- motivated, too despondent to really work as well as they could because they constantly compare themselves with the highest paid in the corporate sector, their five star lifestyles, and rue the choice they made to work in the civil services.
If all these people were shown the door, would productivity suffer? Of course not, because the contribution they are making today is nil.
Then there is the fact that many, many of us are terribly under employed. Massive changes in government policy leading to procedural simplification and rationalisation, and the IT -led automation of many business processes have resulted in huge redundancies. However, no one ever admits that. The advice I have received most often from well wishers is that I should never, never say that I don't have enough work, even if I don't. So, there are times when we spend the best part of the day scanning the newspapers, catching up with acquaintances we hadn't thought of for years, and thanking NIC for the terrific speed at which we are able to surf the internet, because there just isn't any work to be done.
Of course, there are also areas where work has increased manifold and if work studies were the norm in government, rather than the once in a blue moon exercise they now are, a lot of productive re- deployment could take place. What actually happens is that existing posts that have become redundant are neither abolished nor diverted even while new posts are created, so there is a large number of persons at any given time with absolutely no work to do.
So a large part of the bureaucracy is but a parasite in glorious disguise, feeding on the tax payers' money, and no one cares a hoot precisely because it is the tax payer's money, not his or hers.
This indifference is nowhere more evident than in our amazing tolerance of employees who absent themselves for long periods, who make late coming and frequent unuthorised absence a habit, who are simply incapable of delivering satisfactory work, who are prevented by chronic illness or long standing family problems from making any meaningful contribution at work, who carry on commercial businesses from office during office hours, or who simply don't wish to work. If this were a domestic help we were dealing with, he would be shown the door in double quick time. In government, however, we either laugh it off or become the picture of compassion or say a few angry words once in a while --- and then forget it!
Hence my firm belief --- reduce the government by half, and we could perhaps be better off than before, certainly no worse!