A lot can happen in a day and that is exactly what will be the case come July 1 with the implementation of the GST. Things will no more be the same. And, earlier today at the AMFI summit I heard Anil Ambani, chairman of the Reliance Group, speak of it in the same breath as the ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech made by the first Prime Minister of India – Jawaharlal Nehru – in the central hall of the parliament, about 70 years ago. Nostalgia apart, the GST will definitely change the face of India, with its benefits left for only time to tell us.
On June 28, the Cabinet approved the recommendations on HRA and allowances of the 7th pay commission. The impact of this increment will also come into effect from July 1. The revised allowances are likely to cost the government an additional Rs 30,748.23 crore per annum. The money, or most of it, will be funded by taxpayers. How I wish I had a government job—no tension, no appraisal, no late nights and no weekends spent worrying over catching up with work. The perks are unimaginable – medical insurance, accommodation, subsidised food at canteens and stores, quota in education and the list is fairly endless.
A few years ago, for the job post of peons, the UP government received applications from Engineers and MBA and PhDs. The shift in trend to look for government jobs, even when they are less fancy or meaningful is because of the job security. There was a time, several decades ago, when people took pride in working for the government of India. All those in the private sector, were viewed as lesser mortals, and an entire generation would love to recount how they were not viewed as suitable for marriage, because they worked in the private sector.
The economic liberalisation did change the trend, but like several other things we are going back in time. We are all using the thumb impression, which we lived with till the British taught us how to sign our names. So, government jobs are back in favour and the reason is the less stressful way to function in them. Moreover, I am yet to come across many people employed with the government who receive tax notices or face problems with municipalities as the rest of us do. The occasional raids at bureaucrats is an aberration, and mostly due to corruption.
To me, the biggest benefit of a government job is the freedom to propose increments every few years—and successfully get it. Not to forget time-bound promotions and transfers. There is also very little by way of accountability on what one does. The national carrier Air India, telecom companies – MTNL, BSNL or for that matter the Indian Railways and numerous other such enterprises are bleeding because of this lack of accountability. No other job is as rewarding as it is to work in the government of India.
Take for instance, pensioners. Their medical allowance has been doubled to Rs 1,000. Constant attendance allowance on 100 per cent disablement increased from Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,750. Imagine being paid to fall sick than paying for being treated. An Uber driver recently shared his happiness that his son had got a job of a postman in a village 20km from his—point being that it guarantees him employment without the worry of being fired.
For a class 12 pass out, starting at Rs 20,000 and additional perks meant a big break. I can think of several college pass-outs in cities not making that kind of money when they start. Coming back to the Pay Commission fallout, many believe the additional money in the hands of people will push up consumption and is good for the economy. Why be so generous only with the employees of government of India? How about waiving or writing off the tax liability of employees in the private sector at least once every five years when the economy is doing badly? May be someone could think of initiating such a petition online, I am certain there will be many people who will sign up.