Governments cannot be this cruel to their own staff

Governments cannot be this cruel to their own staff

What matters most is to have nothing to be ashamed of, says wise counsel. There is a saying attributed to Confucius that in a country that is well...

What matters most is to have nothing to be ashamed of, says wise counsel. There is a saying attributed to Confucius that in a country that is well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of, in a country that is badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of. Who should be ashamed then and where? Who should be proud and of what? If we look at the world as a whole, a lot of the rich should be ashamed of themselves as the world is very badly "governed".

Poverty, destitution and social inequalities constitute the eighth of the 'Twelve Great Issues for the Future', which manifests itself in different dimensions: from the village, to neighbourhoods, districts, countries, regions, and continents to the whole world, this global village. We already know that globalisation, including the population moving beyond the traditional borders of national economies, has a variety of outcomes. How we judge them, as well as what economic and political conclusions we draw about them, depends upon our point of view. On the one hand, if we confront the average income levels (and wealth, in the long term) in various countries, their disparity is reducing. And that is good news. On the other hand, if we compare the income stratification within particular countries, in most of them this is becoming larger and larger.

And that is bad news. Particularly, in times like these, when a pandemic is sweeping the world and flattening the economies, every country has its concerns. Here in our country we have a strange situation. On the one hand, we have the Centre declaring a lockdown while advising caution against disruption of normal economic activity. The Centre has also asked the governments to ensure that daily wage earner and labour and small vendors do not suffer in the wake of the lockdown. While private industry has announced work from home, the governments have divided their departments into essential and non-essential services and accordingly advised the employees to work either from home or from the field as usual. Hardships of middle class are of a different order.

Usually living on the next month's income, this section has too many liabilities like house rent, EMIs, educational expenses, transport expenditure and several unforeseen costs in day to day lives. The governments have all announced huge bailouts for various sections - vote banks - for different reasons. Now comes the salary cut announced by several governments in the country at this juncture like bolt from the blue. The Telangana government has taken a place of pride in setting an example again buy breaking the backs of its employees announcing a 50 per cent wage cut for a majority of them. Maharashtra added a 10 per cent more of cut for a good measure and AP followed suit, but said it would pay in two instalments, the salaries, in April. Do the governments think that their employees are wallowing in luxuries? So the employees get half the salaries, but will the electricity bill be halved? The municipal taxes? School and college fee? Do they be supplied with vegetables and milk at half the prices? Will the house rents be halved? This is a double whammy for them.

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