Monday, 30th October 2017

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Babus too canny for biometry scanner

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  • Published 22.04.13

New Delhi, April 21: The Prime Minister today tipped civil servants on technology’s power to carry government services to the remotest corners. He might have been surprised to learn that closer home, it was a different story.

At the capital’s seat of power, the babus are beating technology hands down.

In 2009, then home minister P. Chidambaram had introduced a biometric attendance system to ensure punctuality in his ministry. He himself was often seen holding his index finger up before the machine as he left office in the evenings.

Many ministry employees, however, have been giving a thumbs-down to the machine.

A recent ministry circular noted how “habitual defaulters” among the staff were failing to mark attendance biometrically “either in the morning or evening or both”.

It said many employees miss the stipulated 9.30am reporting time more than five times a month. Or, they “are generally reporting late as well as leaving early, or having deficit exceeding 10 per cent of the total working hours in a month”.

Manmohan Singh was referring not to North Block attendance but to the Aadhaar programme, which enables direct transfer of subsidies and other benefits, as he spoke in praise of technology at a Civil Services Day programme here.

Singh told the civil servants that the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, was under the consideration of Parliament.

“This, when enacted, will give our citizens the right to receive specified goods and services in a time-bound manner,” the Prime Minister said.

But not, perhaps, if the babus keep thumbing their nose at the biometric machine. For several months last year, more than half the home ministry staff failed to report for work by 9.30am, the biometric machines showed. A circular issued on October 8 brought the problem to the notice of a joint secretary.

The latest circular asks the joint secretaries to “take appropriate corrective measures by way of counselling, issue of memo, deduction of leave… or initiation of disciplinary proceedings against misconduct, etc”.