Friday, December 29, 2006

Much as I sympathize with people suffering from mental illness ...

... I couldn't help but laugh at Krishnadas Rajagopal's reportage in "'Over-protection of employees has affected efficiency in offices'" (IE, Delhi Newsline, Dec. 29).

Rajagopal recounts the court case surrounding the dismissal of a watchman, Suresh Chand, who contended he spent long spells away from work (frequent, unauthorized absences spread over four years) to be treated for anxiety and depression. What really sunk this poor chap, though, is that his employer provided him medical facilities, but rather than avail of these, the guy went to a private hospital, which produced a certificate for him. Subtext? This man is faking mental illness and using a forged certificate that he bought on the black market as an excuse to tell his workplace to fuck off.

(I do realize that there are a number of issues at play; the way in which mental illness is conceived in India could prevent someone from letting his employers know that he is seeking treatment, but let's be honest: this reeks of foul play.)

The High Court, thank god, upheld Chand's dismissal; the journo writes, "Government organizations in the country are held back by the whims of employees, who consider their appointment to government services as a 'licence to thwart the work culture and discipline of the organisation," the Delhi High Court has observed in an order."

The court, not immune from having itself a little laugh, also observed, "I consider that there are very few persons in India today who are not suffering from one or the other form of anxiety or depression. If such medical certificates are acknowledged as valid for such long, unauthorised absence, no work can be done in any of the government departments."

As a frequent audience for government employee tomfoolery, I applaud this decision ... if only it meant that change would transpire. I'm never going to get back those four hours of waiting for the marriage registrar to consecrate my vows!

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