11:00 pm, January 27, 2014. The results of the interview for hiring “young professionals” were out and as expected, I got selected. My parents’ happiness knew no bounds as their child was going to join the Secretariat of the state and work under the direct supervision of administrative officers. That was precisely what the recruitment ad declared. “The persons will assist Secretaries/District Collectors in the planning and implementation of the flagship programmes of the Government.” It promised to develop the professional aptitude of the selected candidates through training and engaging them in relevant developmental projects. I eagerly waited for four months to get the offer letter.
On the joining day, I found that 15 of us were recruited in a very important department (in terms of revenue collection). And on that very day, we got a taste of how our lives are going to be. After joining, we were not even provided with a space to sit, leave alone the rest. For seven days we wandered around the corridors before a senior officer intervened and we were assigned a place to sit. Later, we were assigned to different sections of the department under the direct supervision of section officers (earlier known as the upper division clerks). Little did we realise that this was just the trailer.
Cooperation was a distant dream; we were clearly made to feel unwanted and alien at every step since then. On the first day in my section, my supervisor made me dust the old files and rearrange them in a chronological order. It was a clear shocker, and more due to the way he instructed me. On another instance, one fellow young professional was chastised openly by a clerk for merely standing in the way. She was asked to get out of the department if she cannot find a seat. She broke into tears instantly. You don’t expect this type of behaviour at your workplace, especially when you are in your late thirties. On the day we completed one year, the self-evaluation form of one of my friend was torn and thrown into the dustbin by her supervisor. These are just to mention a few incidents to give you an insight into the level of insensitivity we faced. No stone was left unturned to make us feel irrelevant.
The rules of assigning work to us were twisted and turned as per the whims of the section officers. Only a few of us were lucky to get some meaningful and productive work. More often than not, we were assigned the task of data entry. Many of us were not even provided with a proper place or computer. We had to take turns at a single computer to complete an assigned task. At times, there was no work at all and were made to sit idle for days together. The promise of proper training was never fulfilled. Even our appraisal process was never initiated voluntarily, as laid out in our agreement. We had to pursue senior officers for weeks before the file would be put up.
Amidst such circumstances, the expectation of professional (and in turn personal) development faded away with time, and we began our struggle for mere survival. The subtle mental torture we were subjected to is beyond quantification and no words can put it on paper accurately. The situation was no different in other departments that had hired YPs (Young Professionals). And all this was being done only because our recruitment had not been done through the public service commission. Are we at fault for this in any possible way?
After three such years, the Government proposed to terminate all the YPs. And no prizes for guessing the justification provided for – “There is no productive or visible contribution from the YPs”. Instead, the government wants to hire retired clerks as ‘Officers on Special Duty’.