Saturday, June 13, 2009

Encounters with the PSU Kind...!!

There are two types of people in this world....One - the government officials a.k.a. public servants, fondly called ‘babus’ and second - the people who have to deal with the first kind :-). I, unfortunately like most of you come in the second category

I had the privilege of working in a government office and having a feel of it from close quarters this summer. first experience of a Public Sector Unit (PSU) as part of my MBA summers and it really turned out to be something more than just a learning curve....!

Some of the points that struck me about this whole affair are....

Their Obsession - Stacks of files on every table...wrapped in green or red strips and tied with white thread...and each one seem to be a clone of the other. That is what you will see first as soon as you land here. These files seems omnipresent….on desks, chairs, at the reception and at every nook and corner of the office (thank goodness the lifts and restrooms were spared :-)). So obsessed are these people with files that they even bring books to your table wrapped in these.

A Concept hitherto unknown - “You are working here for free???” - a question that followed me where ever I went (somehow bought a smile on my face every time I heard this :-)). They could hardly believe that I was working without a stipend. Probably a concept that they are not used to (recession or no recession....doesn’t matter..!!!) and is unfathomable to their working culture.

Proponents of Adam Smith’s Theory - If there is one place where Smith’s ‘Division of Labour’ Theory has found its application it is certainly this one :-). Everyone here is assigned a certain set of jobs and they are not expected to perform anything other than that...not even a little extra. The best part is that.... you won’t find a peon here delivering files to a table which he is not supposed to....even if it falls along his way.

The 80-20 Formula - Pareto certainly must have propounded his 80-20 Rule on observing this office setup. You will see 20% of the staff doing 80% of the work while the rest seem to be busy in other high priority tasks like gossiping, loitering,..:-)

The biggest virtue it teaches - Patience - You will see contractors and other officials running from pillar to post just to find their files and promote it to the bade sahebs’ table. People waiting from 10 in the morning to collect their cheque (for the work that they have completed)....finally getting lucky to have a look at their cheque at 5 in the evening and then realizing they won’t be able to get their hands on it today as they do not have some crap authority letter with them.

But I must frankly admit I have had the privilege of interacting with some of the most brilliant people during my project stint. Some of the MNC’s would surely be envious of such talent.

We all know how easy (or how difficult:-)) it is to get work done in a government office and what needs to done to improve the situation. If there is one word we generally tend to associate with them is “Change”. Change is what they badly need..!! But have we ever thought whether the employees here need things to be ruffled and changed around them? I think the answer will be a negative..!


  1. hehe tu govt office mein kya karr raha tha? that too for free.. hehehe Syntel itna bura tha kya?

    How ever I couldnt help add a few points..

    Cobwebs: There are cobwebs everywhere.. on the fan, the tubelight , the files too.. I saw cobwebs in every govt office.. Spiderman Spiderman...

    The people eat pan.. or guthka or manikchand or Goa supari or pan pasand(only a few i knw)

    and OMG! and they are soooo Rude!
    chal itna bahut hua.. zyada time nahi hai mere paas..

  2. LOL :-)
    I'm sure you had a great time being around them during your internship

  3. Oh yes Adi..the answer is a bold Negative...never does anyone of them like to change and they hate any one who starts working on the lines of change..
    And u know what...given a chance I would prefer to be on none of the two sides..both make me sick..Alas!that'll never happen in this world.

  4. Hey Adi,u've so wonderfully captured the experience you had. I am sure it has enriched you and given you something to ponder about and find solutions to :P Anyways hilarious reading this piece.

  5. Hi Adi ,

    Well Observed and written ... Talking of change ... Only a stable revolutionary government for 10 years can bring some change . But sadly it would never happen due to differences & narrowness in diversity making way for bully & cruel politics . Only we can wish,our country be 100% literate though it doesn't mean everybody would be sensible. but a ray of hope may arise that then such people would be a turning factor in bringing upon change .

    Lagta he kuch jyaada bol diya :D ..Keep writing dude .

  6. had d same experience dis summer and as aptly described by one of the officer dere, as part of my training it is all about "iska topi uske sir":P

  7. Damn! I read this piece way too late to give you a suggestion - You might enjoy reading a book named English, August by Upamanyu Chaterjee. I certainly did. It is a work of fiction on the (mis)adventures of a Delhi IAS pass-out doing his 'internship' in some remote town in UP.

    And regarding your observations, you said that you didn't find any files in the lift or restrooms. May be you didn't have a look at the loft under the lift and you couldn't possibly have seen the files that were flushed down the toilets in the restrooms!

    And when you mentioned that you are working for 'free', I believe that they must have interpreted it as you NEITHER take home any money from over the table NOR under the table!

    Lastly, the applicability of 80-20 formula - Well, that is a UNIVERSAL LAW. Didn't you see it when you were working in a certain IT company not too long ago?