Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Transfer of government officers has become an industry in Orissa; the only industry that ensures income without investment. It affects Orissa, because it erodes work culture by promoting corruption and favoritism in administration while adversely affecting working aptitude of victims of wrongful transfers. The Chief Minister should look at the phenomenon in right earnest.
All the files of transfer of officers of class II and above rank in the Government, after what is called ‘transfer season‘, come to the C.M. for final approval. Instead of merely putting his signature in approval of the proposal, the CM should go into the pages of the transfer-files to save work culture from further erosion. Transfer affects the life of an employee and hence, manipulated transfer affects work culture by petering out the working aptitude of honest officers whom shrewd self-seekers in corridors of power make the victims.
As already noted, transfer of officers is the only industry that facilitates income without investment and this industry is very active in Orissa.
In every department there are establishment sections with ‘Dealing Assistants’ assigned with specific files for specific groups of officers where transfer proposals are basically made, and there are ‘Section Officers’ in charge of corresponding Sections through whom the proposals initiated by the Dealing Assistant reach the Joint Secretary or Additional Secretary or even a Special Secretary placed in charge of establishment. Transfer proposals initiated at the dealing assistant level thus takes a concrete shape before reaching the Departmental Secretary; and with endorsement from the Chief Secretary, the file reaches the Minister in charge of the department and from there it goes to the CM to get the final stamp of approval. Often the CM signs on dotted lines, because by that time, the CMO involved, the entire process must have been so managed that scope for the CM to say ‘no’ to such proposals would have become too scant for difference.
The entire process is vitiated with corruption. And corruption is the only fuel that runs the transfer industry under the pretense of exigencies of administration.
Transfer encompasses two sets of officers. One, who is relieved and the other, who relieves.
Relieved officers are usually the victims of machinations.
I will cite only three instances as the minimum required elaboration of patterns of the mischief.
Pattern No. 1:
In this pattern, innocent officers, having no godfathers behind them, suffer transfers, as thereby officers with backing of godfathers can be accommodated in their places.
As for example, Dr. P. C. Mahakud, a surgery specialist of capital hospital, Bhubaneswar, who had been posted there against a vacant post after serving more then 25 years the remotest areas of the State that roughly constitute the KBK region, was suddenly transferred to Nayagarh within a very short span of time, as a relation of a top functionary in the Chief Minister’s Office was eager to come to the capital hospital. In this case, Dr. Mahakud had to suffer such unjustified transfer, because, a relation of a high power person was to be accommodated in his place. He was clearly a victim of machinations at that time, though he never objected to his transfer, as to him, obeying the government was his duty.
Pattern No. 2:
In this pattern, honest officers who do not grease the palms of higher officers get transferred to disadvantageous places.
As for example, Shashi Bhusan Mohanty was District Agriculture Officer at Angul when Srinibas Rath, the then Agricultural Production Commissioner in the rank of Additional Chief Secretary, visited the place in the guise of official tour. Mohanty was asked by the private secretary of the APC to keep ready for him new sets of rest room requirements like towels and tooth brush etc, which he had done. He was again asked for new sets of the same for the next day. The accompanying staff of the APC made it emphatically clear to Mohanty that the ‘Sahib’ was not in the habit of using the same rest room materials twice. So, Mohanty supplied new sets to the APC everyday till he left. But, at the time of his departure, he served on him a detail bill for the rest room materials purchased everyday as per orders of the accompanying staff of the APC. This was not to be digested by the top officer. By that time, Mohanty, selected by the DPC for the post of Deputy Director of Agriculture, was awaiting the promotional posting. But, as an off the record punishment, he was posted to Kalahandi to be departmentally tortured by another IAS officer – Tara Datt under charges that soya bean seeds supplied by the government were lying unsold. Datt ordered for recovery of the cost of unsold seeds from his salary, though in no way he was responsible for the situation. In fact, the cultivators had rejected the seeds because of lack of their faith in the seeds supplied officially. It was often being agitated in various parts of the State that officially supplied seeds were not germinating and bearing properly. Datt soon understood the reality and withdraw his orders. But, this instance speaks of how honest officers are transferred and tortured because of reluctance to comply with dishonest desires of top bosses.
Pattern No. 3:
In this pattern, an officer is transferred not for any fault at his end, but for wrath of wrongdoers whom he/she refuses to oblige.
As for example, Labor Minister Bijayashree Rautray had to carry out oral orders of Chief Minister’s Private Secretary V. K. Pandian to transfer P.K.Mohanty, District Labor Officer of Cuttack within a very short time of his posting, because he had justly initiated action against the unfair labor practices and prosecutable contravention of labor laws by the publisher of The Samaja, the newspaper that has pledged pages to political propaganda of the CM.
These are just three samples of the practice whereupon the transfer industry stands.
In this industry, the functionaries who handle the machine of posting, have tremendous scope to earn without any investment.
While giving his final approval to any chain of transfer, if the Chief Minister looks at how the proposal is generated and vetted, I believe, this industry would pose no problem to good administration.
Let the CM use intelligence. Let him dig out how the transfer industry works. Let him find out the reason of delay beyond the normal ‘transfer season’ in preparation of the proposal for transfer and posting. Let him ascertain how much time the vetting Officer – the Joint Secretary or the Additional Secretary or the Special Secretary – takes in finalizing the transfer chain, and the reason of delay, if any, at his level; and finally when the proposal reaches the Minister, and how long time it takes to get cleared by the Minister to reach the CMO.
Every point of delay beginning from the initiation of the proposal to vetting thereof, stage by stage, and clearance of the finally vetted chain of transfer by the Minister concerned to reach the CMO is a point of bargaining for backhander. And, this is a major cause of corruption in administration and endangerment of work aptitude in the victims of machination.
The CM should look into the matter seriously if official work culture is not to be left to further erosion.