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Dear public sector workers, good manners please!

27 November 2013 06:57 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Of what use is infrastructural development when the social fabric has been virtually destroyed and human dignity has been thrown into the gutters? We are long past the era of values, manners, ethics and etiquette.  The most regretful is its absence in the state sector institutions.

The recent experience revealed by a woman patient at a leading state-owned ayurvedic hospital in Kurunegala was, to say the least, nauseating. She told this writer she was on her way out having seen her doctor when her mobile phone rang. Unable to bear the scorching sun to answer the friend who was calling her, she walked back into the hospital premises and under the shade of some tree had made herself comfortable on the cemented space where there were some flowers.

After a while, she had heard a loud and stern yelling, ‘’ aee, aee , aee,’’ as is the usual Lankan style of addressing people thought to be menials, never mind  the caller’s roots.!  Engrossed as she was in her phone call, coupled with the mistaken belief that it was a labourer being addressed, she went on with her telephone conversation, when she suddenly got three thundering thuds on her shoulder by a burly man who was standing behind her. She was accused of damaging the flowers which she said was all fabricated as there was no evidence of such damage - she herself being a plant lover and professional horticulturist.

Disgustingly she told me,’’ Ok miss; say I did the wrong thing, but that was not the way to treat a woman as though I was a criminal? Including that institution’s OIC, everyone had teamed up to verbally abuse her on top of the thundering thuds she had received on her shoulder.



" Authorities must focus on the fact that a nation cannot be developed only through infrastructural development completely ignoring the fact of moulding the character of its public sector in a broader sense "



The low image that the public have of politicians and their appointees came from her when she said,’’ all those men looked like political henchman from how they spoke and behaved,’’ Pointing at her two children she emphatically said,’ certainly , I don’t want these children to be amongst such hooligans. This moral degradation is everywhere,’’ she lamented leading this writer to think about the private sector in terms of this issue.

For instance, the private sector institutions have far better, very courteous, well mannered employees   trained in customer care and public relations. What’s more, these employees are not political appointees. So the occurrence   of such incidents in the private sector is less unlikely.

 Significantly, a majority of this country’s socio- political, economic and religious elite have their roots in very ordinary, mediocre surroundings not to forget that it is they that are very status conscious and enveloped in false values.



"  This sort of rude and cruel behavior of many public sector employees can be because of the fact they have been appointed to these posts through political patronage  "




 It is against such backdrop that Mahatma Gandhi’s simplicity and public good are worth reminiscing not to forget Indira Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu and Vijayalakshmi Pandit as well. Those that think that powerful positions, make up and lounge suits would bring out the best in them are mistaken indeed.
Highlighting the importance of corporate power, creativity and innovation alone devoid of values will not take a country into total development. Logistics, infrastructure and physical development are futile when a nation lacks a higher purpose.

More importantly, the need for a public oriented, well - mannered, courteous state sector is imminent. This then remains a dream as the politicians that recommend them are themselves far from being the gentlemen the public want them to be

 Where then do we go from here?  What is the point in building state-of –the-art bridges, roads, railways, airports and harbours when the human resources are of so low quality?

This ill - mannered state sector is not yesterday’s making. It has been so under all governments including the present one. Certainly, this is no justification of past misdoings. Only a double up is needed for record straightening. A grand display of physical growth minus the essential component of humaneness is akin to a coconut minus its kernel.

This sort of rude and cruel behavior of many public sector employees can be because of the fact they have been appointed to these posts through political patronage. It proves a clear fact of ‘like masters like followers’.

These unpleasant incidents won’t happen if public servants are recruited based on their qualifications and through a proper interview process. Authorities must focus on the fact that a nation cannot be developed only through infrastructural development completely ignoring the fact of moulding the character of its public sector in a broader sense.
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