To battle graft, hit where it hurts: job security in govt | Firstpost Ever wondered why government jobs are such a craze in most parts of the country? Making sense of the craze could help us analyse the deep rot in the whole of bureaucratic apparatus and probably guide us to a solution to the problem of irresponsible, apathetic and corrupt officials. The proposed Lokpal, with all its proposed powers, could put the fear of god in these people but the chances are that they would find more creative ways to dodge getting caught and punished. Actually, they could be targeted at a more fundamental level. In our country thereâ€™s great social tolerance to, even acceptance of, corruption in government offices. Reuters The attractions of a government job, particularly at the lower and middle rungs, are job security, low workload, high number of holidays, the general comfort of low accountability, time-bound promotions and all other benefits that come with it. Once one is in, there is hardly a chance of getting thrown out. With so many people in competition, the entry is a bit difficult â€“ that could be managed too â€“ but once settled it is a life-changing feat. The value of the candidate shoots up in the marriage market as does his social respectability. There are no threats if he is corrupt as he operates within a network of corrupt people. If he is honest, which many try to be initially and only some succeed, chances are he would end up displeasing a lot of people higher up and lower down. Itâ€™s practical to avail oneself of the benefits the system offers rather than resist it. In our country thereâ€™s great social tolerance to, even acceptance of, corruption in government offices â€“ an honest man is generally perceived as an odd-ball amid normal people. It is not unusual for elderly women in villages to ask the prospective bride-groom the amount he makes as â€˜extraâ€™ from his job. In some states there are dowry price tags for all categories of civil servants, starting with successful candidates in the Indian Civil Service exams. If thereâ€™s rampant corruption in bureaucracy, this mindset is one of the biggest supporting factors. But for the man concerned, everything finally boils down to one issue: security. A government job is secure. That is where all the problems begin. It is not easy to throw out a government official even if he is suspected of being corrupt. His dismissal has to pass through a long procedural maze. Suspension does not mean much â€“ one still gets half or more of his salary. And if he is protected by his seniors, he might escape unscathed, with all benefits intact. Compare that to the employee in a private firm. Itâ€™s a contractual job which could be terminated at short notice. Out of job for a few months, the man is virtually out on the street if he does not have strong financial support to fall back on. It does not mean that there is no corruption in the private sector but the risk of getting involved is much higher. Thatâ€™s a strong disincentive for getting oneâ€™s hands dirty. Corruption in the government offices is a low risk-high returns affair. If the risk perception is higher, less and less people would like to indulge in corruption. People in general are risk averse. Nobody would like to put his job, which offers so many other advantages, at risk for some quick buck. Society in general is tolerant about corruption but it is not appreciative of a man getting caught in the act either. A jail term is always a social stigma. There are chances that the man concerned would get ostracised. Thatâ€™s makes a strong case for taking security out of government jobs. It strikes at corruption at the most fundamental level. Why not make government jobs contractual? Why not make salary increments and promotions in our offices performance-linked? These steps would certainly promote more efficiency besides making corruption a risky indulgence. Itâ€™s time the government put in some serious thought into that.