The unhappy civil servant and his never-ending wants

The glittery lure to join the civil service bandwagon, once touted as the numero uno choice for all Bhutanese wishing to pursue a career in the country, has now seem to lost its sheen as hundreds leave their service midway every year either to pursue new careers or simply go abroad where they can earn more while also get rewarded for their efforts.

And, the latest report that states that majority of civil servants are worried of not having enough savings to see them through their lean times, forget about building a safe refuge for themselves and their families once they retire, is all the more appalling as, compared to those who work in the private sector, civil servants are considered more affluent and well-paid.

The study also reveals that civil servants gradually lose their interest in performing their duties due to undue pressures from their bosses, add to that glaring systemic loopholes, red tapism and nepotism, and rampant corruption practices among the government bodies.

It is seen that hard work and diligence only take one as far as being able to lay three square meals on their family tables, while the corrupt ones drive flashy SUVs and invest in real estate while siphoning off millions of state resources. Hence, most, it seems, tend to lean towards the latter, as is evident with the growing instances of corruption as reflected every year by the Royal Audit Authority.      

In the not so distant past, though life was a tad simpler and the earnings of civil servants much more meager compared to present day perks and allowances, our citizens and especially the civil servants, were a lot happier and content bunch. Nobody complained of having to work in a remote school with the most scanty of resources, and no one even felt at unease to travel long journeys in rickety tin-like BGTS busses and hitch a ride in gypsum-ferrying Lorries.

It is not that our civil servants today are overworked nor is it that they are being underpaid, it is just that with the changing times our wants and priorities have changed.

Tell this to the single mother who works in a private hotel in the capital from six in the morning to nine through the night, and without any pension or provident funds nor any tours and paid leaves; tell this to the roadside workers who are paid less than Nu 7000 a month and have to toil among the toughest of terrains and weather. Ask them if they can save for their future. Ask them if they own a car or have bought plots of land.

The state, over the years, has substantially worked towards uplifting the lives of its citizens, especially civil servants like teachers and health workers who are some of the best paid in the country. Yet, the majority of those grumbling seem to be from these sections who tend to retire in droves to further their own interests.

Our common national interests should come foremost in our endeavours to serve the Tsa-wa-sum. Otherwise, mere lip service and hollow pledges will take us nowhere.