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food for thought

If people want change, they may have to wait a long time for it. There can be no predicting when, where and how change will come, what form it will take. We thus see the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi’s words: ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’. The winds of change this year have brought in a new ruling dispensation in Assam. People here have opted for ‘poribartan’, but they need to introspect about the change they desire. Will change begin from Dispur by government order as the people wait passively for it to improve their lives? Or are people willing to lend a hand to bring about change? Government employees posted in Dispur and State departments are at the epicentre of this much-anticipated for change. So it is surprising to see their ‘confusion’ when the new Chief Minister recently made an appeal to work 10 hours a day. Some departments hurriedly issued orders of 10-hour office timings. This made the State employees’ association mutter about ‘sheer violation of Labour Act’. Filly, CM Sarbanda Sonowal had to clarify that he had only meant people should work in mission mode to take the State forward. The notifications were withdrawn, but the controversy has struck a false note. Over 90 percent workers are in the unorganized sector. They work punishingly long hours, are poorly paid, enjoy little benefits and have no job security whatsoever. What will they think of privileged State government employees carping about working 10 hours? If the Prime Minister in New Delhi and the Chief Minister in Dispur are plugging away at their desks to get things moving in a big way, should it not set an example? In fact, the wise will say that work begins, flows, ends and begins again. It cannot be divided piecemeal into hours or pigeonholed into files; it must not be shunted endlessly from table to table for bribes. Without work ethics, government offices in Assam cannot become change agents.

About the author

Ankur Kalita