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Citizen Voices

The Culture Of Insensitivity And Carelessness Is Destroying Our System

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Pakistan’s bureaucracy deals with the public in an insensitive and careless way and this attitude is a cause of concern for citizens. Successive governments have tried but failed to change this system which has become embedded in our society, writes Ahmed Naveed.

A leaked video is doing the rounds on social media nowadays in which a government employee can be seen throwing away the documents handed to him by a woman. The exact details of the incident are still unknown. Meanwhile, the identity of the employee and the place where the incident occurred could not be ascertained.

However, one thing was quite evident in the video and that was the helplessness of a common citizen, especially a woman, while dealing with the confusing system of the country.

The comments section below the video, like always, was very interesting. There was a unanimous demand from people to sack the insensitive officer. While some people blamed the current government for not doing anything to get rid of this culture of insensitivity, others criticised the previous governments for creating and then maintaining this culture which has now become embedded in our society. Then there were others who blamed “the system” for all existing ills in the society. This reminded me of an article that I wrote last year on my experience of dealing with the so-called system of the country.

The purpose of this piece is not to express my opinion on the video incident but to show that the culture of insensitivity and carelessness is pervasive in our society and not even top government departments are free from it. At the cost of repeating some of the things I wrote, I would like to share a part of my experience when I appeared for the CSS competitive exams last year.

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After more than six months of intense day and night study sessions, I found out that the venue allotted by the commission for the exams was an utter disappointment. The venue for the exam was a government-run college and applicants were stacked up in small rooms.

The chairs were extremely uncomfortable and the size of the desks did not allow one to keep the question paper and the answer sheet on it at the same time. God help those who opted for extra answer sheets.

Moreover, electricity was not available at the examination centre while a generator or UPS were also non-existent. This was the treatment meted out to bureaucrats in the making, ladies and gentlemen!

Surprisingly, not much has been written or said about the changes brought in the CSS syllabi in 2016. The change included revising the syllabus, introducing some new subjects and revising subject group structure. Going through the updated syllabi is an interesting task in itself.

The purpose of a syllabus is to remove the uncertainty as to what to study and what to leave out, but not in this case. The very first topic for the subject ‘History of the USA’ deals with the time period from ancient times to 1492. It would have been much better if the commission had determined the timeline rather than stating the vague term “ancient”.

Similarly, the course content for the compulsory subject ‘General Science and Ability’ has the word “etc.” in it. Maybe the examiner was tired of writing the syllabus and decided to let the students determine what to study.

On the one hand, it is said that command over the English language is the most important aspect of the exams, and on the other hand, there are punctuation errors in the syllabi.

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Furthermore, at one point LED is placed under the category of “renewable” source of energy. Apparently the revised syllabus was counterchecked.

This is the level of carelessness when it comes to preparing and selecting people to run the state machinery in Pakistan.

Coming back to the issue, if we know that our real problem is this system then it should not take much effort to identify those who are responsible for its failure.

It would be much easier to sack the culprits and replace them with diligent and hardworking individuals. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done.

The truth is that hiring and firing of some government employees will not help rebuild a better system. The person who threw the documents in the video is not the only one to be blamed. What he did in that video is what we are being taught every day, directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, by those who are above us. And the cycle continues without a break.

The onus is on those who promised to bring a change in the country and they have to ensure that our system becomes more sensitive and caring. Until that happens, the above-mentioned video will continue to serve as stark reminder to us that nothing much has changed in the country.


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