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October 27, 2019

‘Busier-than-thou’ system is the real culprit

Lahore

October 27, 2019

“Holier-than-thou” is the name of the political game that is in play, at present, in our country since every Tom, Dick and Harry in the political class is claiming to be more pious than the other.

As such, ours is a self-righteous style of governance. So, it is neither democratic, nor autocratic. Instead, it is a scrabble game of piety and impiety, PM Imran Khan and his ‘devotees’ labelling every opponent as the most impious creature on earth, simultaneously considering themselves on the right path: a sort of a puritanical model. It reminds us of an old book on human relations. The book had divided human relationships into four categories. The category that applies to our present structure of governance is: “I am okay, you are not okay”.

Unfortunately, this battle of piety and impiety is now being fought even in the streets, the whole society having fallen victim to this epidemic. The end result is total impasse and stagnation.

To add insult to injury, the “busier-than-thou” attitude has worsened the things to yet greater extent so much so that no one is readily available to redress your grievances, courtesy the overly busy, heavy schedules of movers and shakers of our government, more so of our economic and other remedial systems.

Having done reporting on the investigative side for several years, I have been listening to this general complaint from hundreds of aggrieved, hapless people. However, during the last few weeks, these public complaints have multiplied manifold.

In order to countercheck, I myself tried to contact a number of ministers in the federal as well as Punjab governments. It is not so that they did not respond. They did respond, some of them after four to five days of ‘hot pursuit’ while others responding after weeks of manhunt, nay ‘minister-hunt’. But, all of them were in the busy mode: speaking hastily, not registering the talk as if wishing to end the call in a jiffy.

When I tried to talk on phone to a Punjab minister, I was told, “I am was badly entangled in myriads of things which may consume another week in tackling all that.” It left me wondering what if some grievance required redress in a day or so. Same was the knee-jerk response from the secretary concerned.

Switching to another minister, I found him in a yet more intense “busier-than-thou” state.

As regards my chase for a federal minister, I was told he was badly tied up. I know this dynamic office-holder personally as a very courteous, responsive man. But, again the same problem, that of “busier-than-thou” system of governance.

Doesn’t it prove that governance has now turned into a headache both for the busy bees in the government and, likewise, for the busy bees among the governed classes (the latter are busy in chasing the “holier-than-thou” and “busier-than-thou” lot).

I guess the culprit behind failures and delayed relief is this busy business spread over unnecessary meetings, discussions and movements, leading to nowhere other than much greater public discontent- and disconnect (public-government disconnect) that are escalating with every passing moment.

Commoners in the street usually ask these questions: “What do the governors, chief ministers, ministers, commissioners, police seniors and other office-holders achieve by way of daily, lengthy meetings?” “Do they formulate policies every day?” “Can’t they work intelligently for a week or a month and formulate the overall governance structure once for all and then assign the officials concerned their respective duties to be performed with greater liaison with public and under the vision once laid down in the policies formulated through deliberations?”

Administrative science experts and scholars are of the considered opinion that too much busy style of governance- meetings and all that- constitute a bad departure from the successful systems of governance that run on the basis of devolution and delegation. In efficient public delivery systems, the higher you go, the easier go the things as senior and senior most administrators devolve duties and then monitor their juniors by giving them specific targets and deadlines. If, however, the top notches themselves get entangled in the confusing and confounding time tangles and unnecessary meetings and movements, what will they deliver to the masses or, at least, their electorate ? —…[email protected]