Taj Nabi Khan
ALL animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others, — a proclamation made by the pigs who control the government in the novel, ‘Animal Farm’, by ‘George Orwell’. However, the quote here refers to the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but in reality it gives power and privileges to a small number of elites and ignores many others. It is something common to come across changing laws and rules from one country to another but within a state such phenomenon seems awkward and irrational. In the land of the pure where one fails to rationalize many things, among one of them, is unequal distribution of official allowances, salary packages and other benefits given to government employees in different state-run-departments over the years.
The most powerful government departments are availing almost all official perk and privileges including the special, risk, study etc. allowances, increments, in time promotion, honorarium, remuneration for overtime, house rent, medical bills, fuel and car maintenance, and other benefits for their employees due its influence and overall function in the so-called democratic system while the weak ones or smaller departments often remained totally ignored even to get their salaries in time.
The driver is driver and the clerk is clerk whether he or she is in the Supreme Court of Pakistan or in the Post Office or education department of the country. However, if both serve the same country with the same patriotic spirit, same level of qualification, same working experience, same nature and title of job and equal duty of hours, then why do they have such a huge difference in their salaries and allowances? Indeed a big injustice is made usually with those working in small and financially weak departments. The chances of corruption and risk factors exist in almost all departments with varying degrees and for each and every official then why some are obliged and others ignored? Moreover, if the level of qualification is not considered or given status, it would not only be discouraging for the few highly qualified officials but also for others working within and outside of the department. Same is the case with MPhil and PhD allowances in different government departments.
Despite the government announcement, some of the state-run-departments are still showing reluctance for PhD degree allowance. Only the Punjab government had announced MS/MPhil allowances as Rs 5000 in March 2013 through an official notification for all government employees working in different government departments across the board at the rate of 50% of the PhD degree which of course is part of the doctorate programme. However, the same allowance is missing in other provinces and even in federal government departments.
Justice in utilizing the money collected through public taxes and unification of allowances and salary packages is an important task to be given due care especially for addressing the reservation of the government employees working in small departments. The allowance for higher education is a token of encouragement which should be given to all those who qualify and working as government servants so that others also acquire degrees of higher education and enhance their knowledge and skills and excel in their areas of specialization.
Despite in the strong grip of taxation system, the government on one hand rarely shows benevolence towards the government officials especially in their pay raise and allowances. On the other, in the age of price hike, uncontrolled raise in housing rents in urban areas, costly education, skyrocketing gas and electricity bills and medical expenses have made the life of the lower scale employees in general and the employees of some of the ignored government departments in particular very difficult to meet both ends. Uniformity in allowances especially in MPhil/PhD should be ensured across the board in all provinces including the federal capital for avoiding discrimination and addressing the genuine reservations of highly educated govt servants.
— The writer is freelance columnist.