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Promotion in Jobs: RESERVATION A DANGEROUS LIAISON, By Dr S Saraswathi, 5 Sept, 2012 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 5 September 2012

Promotion in Jobs


By Dr S Saraswathi

Former Director, ICSSR, New Delhi)


Politics and promotions is a dangerous mix. The Government’s bid to provide SCs and STs with reservations in promotions in Government jobs by amending the Constitution will play further havoc with the system. Public administration in India has many new lessons to offer to students making old textbooks of renowned scholars inadequate and in some part outdated too.  Politics and public administration are so intertwined that we tend to miss the object of administration and concentrate on the politics of administration.


Administration is the process of management and a means “to care for or to look after people, to manage affairs”. The original Latin word from which the term is derived means “to serve”. The concept of “service”, which is related to work, is slowly weakening today though we still use terms like “public service”, “civil servant”, “government servant”, etc.  There is  a corresponding  increase in the stress on  grades, promotions, distribution of jobs,  seniority list, pay commissions, etc. – all of which  concern the people in the administrative set up  more personally.


One cannot bypass digression into the contents of administration to find out what is right and what is wrong in public administration in India today.  The topic has acquired an important place in the ideology of social justice which is accepted as a basic constitutional principle in India.


Reservation of posts in employment and seats in educational institutions has become the most important instrument of ensuring social justice in the caste-ridden society of India. Unfortunately, it has been a subject of maximum number of encounters between the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary at the Centre and the States for the past many years.


Reservation policy has a unique significance of uniting all political parties and has immense electoral significance. But considering the kind of heated debates that go on in public, it cannot be said that political or party consensus reflects national consensus.


The first amendment of the Constitution was made in 1951 to enable the States to make any special provision for the advancement of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and socially and educationally backward classes. The Mandal Commission recommended reservation for Other Backward Classes in Central Government offices. Some States have bifurcated the backward into two classes – backward and the most backward – and have fixed separate quota. All these are for initial recruitment and are considered necessary for elevating the backward classes.


Even the States in southern India, which are confirmed adherents to Reservation Policy at the time of recruitment as an indispensable device to promote social justice and prevent undue predominance of some castes in public service were not initially keen on extending the policy to promotions.


The Government of Karnataka issued several orders on quota in promotions, but always limited its proportion. Some States declined to include Class1 posts, and some wanted to put a reasonable restriction on the number of times an employee could avail of such preferential treatment.


Article 335 of the Constitution prescribes that in making appointments to services and posts under the Government, “the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration”.  The substance of this provision has a direct bearing on promotions.


Promotion is essentially an instrument to retain in service those personnel who have proved good for the job. It is a policy intended to keep the employee contended and efficient. Before the emergence of the concept of human resource development in management in a big way, promotion was linked exclusively with the requirements of management for running an establishment. 


In the words of a great authority on public administration, L D White, promotion means “an appointment from a given position to a more difficult type of work and greater responsibility, accompanied by change of title and usually an increase in pay”. The normal administrative practice is to take into account the length of service, efficiency, professional requirement of the concerned posts, etc., in granting promotions.


Clearly, promotion is a reward for good work. It is given in recognition of a person’s ability to take up higher responsibilities in an organisation. Opportunities for promotion act as incentives and create an atmosphere conducive to efficient work.


Today, in the context of the Reservation Policy, promotion is bereft of its real meaning and is understood and projected as higher emoluments and greater authority, more privileges, and superior status. Hence, the scramble for promotions and all the controversies that surround the manner of according promotions.


Civil Service is team work and it is sustained by high morale and code of ethics. It is carried on best if the members at different levels of the bureaucratic hierarchy perfectly cooperate with one another. White mentions that morale is “both an index of a sound employment situation and a positive means of building up an efficient organisation”.


High morale infuses energy and interest to make bigger achievements.  Correspondingly low morale does the opposite and lowers the output of an organisation. High or low morale is a state of mind and is related to organisational climate of which inter-personnel relation is an important aspect.  Sense of loyalty and cooperation depend on employee satisfaction.


In any organizational set up, the person holding higher rank must have superior knowledge and ability to perform the tasks than his subordinates. That is the reason that organizations have to be careful in giving promotions which change the status and position of concerned staff members vis-à-vis others.  In any case, promotion is not a birth right for anybody.  It should not be automatic, but should be earned.


Quota-based promotions will upset the hierarchical relations and will worsen the office atmosphere.  The beneficiaries and the hopefuls assured of promotions are likely to lose inclination to learn, work, and earn their promotions, and instead try to expedite their chance.  While boosting the morale of the benefited employees, it will spoil the total atmosphere and promote a sense of alienation among the members marginalized in the process.


There is a case for promoting SC or ST candidate in his normal turn even if he is not the best among the available, but not for putting him over and above the better qualified out-of-turn under a quota policy. After all promotion is an arrangement in a bureaucratic set-up to improve efficiency and output and not a political show of social justice. ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and  Feature Alliance)

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