By: Rebati Adhikari
‘Sarkari kaam kaile jala gham’ is an old axiom that has been in use since time immemorial to signify bureaucrats’ apathy towards service. The picture today being of tardy service delivery and arrogant civil servants. Yet the number of applicants for government service is staggering.
In the fiscal year 2071-72, a total of 599,668 applications were received for just 7,991 posts. In the previous year 2070-71, Public Service Commission (PSC) had received 560,915 applications for 6,813 posts. In the fiscal year, 2069-70 this figure was at 368,805 for 5078 posts. The number of applicants are constantly growing with each passing year.
“Not only geographical and educational but also demographic and family backgrounds affect a person’s perception of employment. A person whose family has always valued government employment will have a completely different outlook from a person whose family has from the start scorned civil service.”
The fascination for government job is attributed to job security, external and international posting, hefty bonuses and benefits of leave education and training opportunities. A survey commissioned by B360 to FACTS Research and Analytics was conducted among 28 Masters level students studying at Presidential Business School, 16 students responded that a private job is more appealing while 12 students gave preference to government jobs. 19 of them voted government job as their second preference. Every survey has its limitations; the students surveyed are studying in an American institution affiliated to Westcliff University so they are likely to carry a different outlook towards employment. Nevertheless, they shared that they have appeared for government service exam either of their free will or at a parent’s behest. “The survey was within Kathmandu valley however, applications for government posts come not only from Kathmandu but from entire Nepal. So the level of demand for government jobs may not be assumed for the entire nation based on the survey,” says Pramit Dabadi, Senior Officer – Strategic Communications & Operations at FACTS.
Matrika Khatiwada is a Sub Section Officer at the Directorate of Fisheries Development Fattepur, Saptari and has been working there for two years. He joined government service determined to root out corruption. He believes that the youth carry the responsibility of building a robust bureaucracy. Sabitri Timalsena is a non-gazetted second-class officer working at the Ramechhap District Court since a year and half years. It was a dream job for her and she succeeded at first attempt. She feels that if you work hard enough, you can get through the Public Service Commission exam which is fair unlike other sectors where favoritism and nepotism exist. She opines, “If bureaucracy fails, the whole system fails. We need talented young people in the system to wear down corruption and serve the nation.”
As per survey respondents, 21 said they would prefer government service for job security while four of them attributed it to the prestige associated with it and two said that perks would be the pulling factor. According to Dabadi, main attractions towards government jobs are stable employment and income, retirement plans such as pension and the general presumption of slack workload.
Many others believe that government jobs are tedious and do not allow space for capacity or career building. Except for a few departments that attract the youth because of their overall payoff such as Inland Revenue or Consular Services, the general perception of government jobs hinges on monotony and unproductiveness. One has to visit the government operated postal service office at Sundhara to get in tune with the issue.
However, government service still holds prestige and a higher level of social standing. The perception towards career is also shaped by geographic origin of the applicant, social experience and upbringing. “Not only geographical and educational but also demographic and family backgrounds affect a person’s perception of employment. A person whose family has always valued government employment will have a completely different outlook from a person whose family has from the start scorned civil service. Moreover, geographical backgrounds also have a significant role to play. There are fewer offices and low opportunities of formal employment in rural and semi-rural areas. However, the presence of government officials in such areas finds them viewed as people with steady source of income, influence and respect,” shares Dabadi.
The current political instability, fewer employment opportunities and the overwhelming brain drain and migration is also considered a possible factor for increase in PSC applicants. The school leaving certificate is believed to be an iron gate to the future aspirations of the youth, the Lok Sewa exams are no different. Young people will try umpteen times to get through it.