We have amidst us a fast diminishing number of elderly citizens who can recount from their unfailing memory the many aspects of salary that jobs commanded even during the closing years of the first half of the last century. Teachers in schools under the government management drew salaries of a princely sum in just two digits, in the august company of staff of low hierarchy in the few departments of the government who also took home small cash on the first day of the month. Teachers in colleges drew salaries in three digits, a number close to the smallest three-digit number. The so-called gazetted officers too drew salaries nothing much to write home about. The now-hard-to-believe quantities of grocery on other needs that the rupee could fetch in those bygone days is another matter. Maybe, opportunities for landing jobs with steady salary were limited, but that should be weighed against the population of the land, a fraction of the total headcount now.
The days of euphoria following announcements by the government with details of hike in basic pay and different allowances, based on the recommendations of the successive pay commissions, decennially, have faded on the count of excitement. The army of quill-drivers has apparently got into the groove of imagining the next event of constituting the Pay Commission. Salary-related action has turned routine, being considered as a right and sanctified.
While the track record of successive governments of the day both at the Centre and in the States is marked with low rating in public domain, and certainly by the opposition in various legislative bodies, the staff drawing salary and pension from the treasury, numbering nearly 10 million on the rolls of the Union Government and their counterpart in the governments of the 36 States and Union Territories have every reason to feel gratified and be grateful receiving their pay cheques like clockwork, not to forget prompt payment of arrears due to frequent hikes in salaries.
The steadily mounting outlay on salary and pension of the government employees has long crossed the worrisome point, only in the circles of the ministry of finance. While self-employed entrepreneurs have increased over the past two-and-half years, not everyone of them command a salary that is both steady and secured, but the pay cheque from the government enjoys its own sanctity.