The British author noted for his satirical writings, Samuel Butler (1835-1902), is credited with the proverbial statement ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child,’ also sourced by many to the Bible. The now-out-of-fashion interpretation of the proverb used to convey the message “If a parent refuses to discipline an unruly child, that child will grow accustomed to getting his own way.” In the context of the land’s majority among its 1.32 billion headcount indulging in unbridled unruly acts pursuing myriad causes, being copiously reported upon in all forms of media, one is prompted to switch the focus from child in the proverb to the adult in this column. One can also meaningfully invoke the Kannada proverb ‘Gidavagi baggaddu, maravagi baggeethe’ which doesn’t require to be translated for the sake of those whose tongue is Kannada. One cannot be faulted for remarking that unruly behaviour on the part of the land’s people is their uniform religion as it were, cutting across the spectrum of the various faiths of the country’s populace.
Corporal punishment having been ruled out by law in the land for many years now, the mass of children as the exclusive beneficiaries of the law are now full-grown adults. Going by the message of the aforementioned Kannada proverb, the thought and hope of bringing this mass of adults to orderly conduct amounts to asking for the moon. Also, there are no clues on who or which agency is to bell the cat.
Let us now narrow down the discussion on ‘Sparing the rod and spoiling the child’ to the privileged sections in the population, namely the nearly 10 crore government servants, together employed in the Central Government as well as the governments in the 36 States and Union Territories, not to forget those in the well-marked sections on whom the Constitutional favours have been bestowed. This enviable mass, given their numerical strength and guarantees under the land’s laws, like the child which was spared the rod, has got accustomed to its own way, a feature that every citizen coming across its members in daily life has been made a sucker.
If the index of “revenue per employee,” as commonly computed in case of an industry in private sector is applied to employees in governments as “output per employee,” we are sure to end up with a dismally low figure. In this backdrop, the reported prescription by a Union Minister to chase the non-performing employees with a stick augurs well for the country’s speedy progress.