People may say all sorts of things about the Planning Commission of India and its five-year plans and the catchy terminologies it comes up with (of course, with a little help from the government in power). But there is no getting away from the fact that the body knows how to plan well, at least when it comes to its own needs.
According to a news report, the panel has made the newly-constructed ultra modern toilets of Yojana Bhavan — its headquarters — exclusive for its senior officers. To ensure that lesser mortals don’t use these VIP toilets, access cards have been given to senior officers and janitors have been posted outside these toilets. The panel feels that dirty toilets with their low-grade fittings present a bad picture when foreign dignitaries come calling. In total, 60 babus above the post of directors can use these four swank toilets. It is another matter that probably the foreign dignitaries will find it odd that in a country where thousands have no access to proper toilets, here is an office of the Government of India where you need access cards to enter the toilets.
But why were the toilets not in good shape at the Bhavan in the first place? Going by the government’s staffing record, there must be enough janitors around to keep them clean and security staff to ensure that the fittings are not stolen. But then, as we all know, accountability is not what the government expects from its staff. So come winter, you will see government employees sitting in the well-manicured gardens of the traffic islands enjoying the glorious sunshine. In summer too, they find cool corners to recharge their battered batteries. But then will the personnel department ever call them and tell them to do their work? No, that’s not how we work in India. Here if you can’t fix a problem, then just add another layer to it, never mind the money involved.
However, the junior babus at Yojana Bhavan must not take this sanitation apartheid lightly. They must ask the Commission to walk the talk on their pet theme of bringing about an inclusive society.