Many people have experienced the country’s bureaucratic system, which demands compromising rights, ignoring what’s going wrong, and keeping silent to ensure the work is done without much delay.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan believes that a person's “clothes” are an important issue and according to his Planning Minister Asad Umar, social transformation is an evolutionary process that takes a painstakingly long time.
Bureaucracy is the engine of the country’s administrative system. Though the president and prime minister hold the reins, civil servants perform the tasks and ensure the implementation of legislation on the ground. To some extent, the International Monetary Fund’s demand for structural reforms in Pakistan also applies to the bureaucratic system.
There are so many examples of what one expects from bureaucratic organisations, like, long queues outside the National Database and Registration Authority offices or unhygienic food at government offices. The processes employed at the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution that prompt senior citizens to visit the centre frequently just for the registration of their pension is another reminder of the state of the government system. Despite having smartphones in their pockets, many public servants are yet to switch to the digital side, which is fast and the future of the working system.
It's safe to suffice the government infrastructure is far from being an inspiration.
To a certain extent, such a trend is also being witnessed in the private sector where sometimes customers are not treated as the prime consumer but as a commodity.
There are many contributing factors to such a low level of service – including old bureaucratic practices, lack of innovation, low education standards, fewer technical institutes, and a dearth of ownership.
It may be seem hard to imagine but there are ways to improve the prevailing bureaucratic system.
Firstly, the curriculum right from schooling to the government service test is of the highest importance because the mode of language and the inclusion of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the curriculum are the bases for understanding concepts and visualisation.
Education has a wide scope that also includes formal and informal types. In addition to this, learning is a lifelong process which means there is always room for improvement. Such understanding would help people grasp concepts like the dignity of labour and the demand for various skills.
Secondly, societal values play a crucial role in developing human trends. It not just impact the performance but also weighs the people’s responsiveness towards different circumstances. With rules in place and room for improvement, systems can thrive not on an ad hoc basis but via analytic procedures.
Furthermore, the service sector is always about delivering tasks in a hospitable manner with ease for the public which means administrations should always be open to criticism. A reactionary approach or arrogant nature of the duty further demoralises the people, who actually are also the jury after being a customer.
Lastly, reforms are always public-centric whether it’s a long term approach or short-term. Expediency, productivity, streamlining, and a robust mechanism are necessary for policies. Without any doubt, the government itself cannot reach such a goal so the consumer/public has a major role to play. In this respect, people should focus on early childhood development and try to teach the children about the difference between right and wrong. Maintaining social values is also vital as the servants come from the masses to serve them with better outcomes. Let’s not forget the sense of ownership.
The writer is a staff member