Trauma of election duty !

Editor,

When I first learnt that I had to undergo training for Election Duty, I was very excited as I had already done so in the past. But this year it was very chaotic and disorganized right from the allotment of duties to the training at St. Anthony’s College.  Some were assigned the post of First Polling Officers but were eventually asked to go as Fourth Polling Officers. Some were assigned duties of both Presiding Officer and First Polling Officer. I wonder what’s  going on inside the DC’s office! There has never been so much confusion in the past. Why this time?

Appointment letters are usually sent to respective Departments but this time everybody was forced to shove through the mob at the State Central Library premises. A stampede was inevitable so I left the venue and returned in the evening. The men enjoyed rubbing shoulders with women as they tried to brave through the crowd to check their respective constituencies. Only the victims would know how much they went through. And since we are servants of the Government it does not matter as long as work gets done!

The list was printed in the smallest fonts just to harass the poor polling officials. You had to be at least 10-15 inches from the board to see your name on the list. I thought this would be the end of this chaos but to my dismay, we had to push through the crowd again on the day were allotted Polling Stations. Each of us eagerly pushed through to get to the desk to collect our “bone” like a hungry dog. It was complete pandemonium! I don’t remember ever queuing/shoving through the crowd for an appointment letter. What baffles me is that people on the Reserved List were also  asked to collect appointment letters! What for?

Interestingly one polling officer got two appointment letters on the same day –one for being on the Reserved List and another for being a Presiding Officer. On Feb 24 we were told to be at the JN Stadium at 10am so we could collect the materials for D-day. We were there on the dot and all the polling officials lined up from 9.30am till 11am only to be told that they would get distributed at 1pm. A whole day wasted!

As the D-day approached, we were asked to be in Polo at the ridiculous hour of 7.30am! Why so early? We could have come by 10 or 10.30am.We could have had a good night’s sleep at least on the day before we have to sleep on cold, cemented floors.

At the end of the polling we were exhausted but were harassed again at the JN Stadium. It was a like a cattle market where people trampled on each other. Women were not spared. There were no queues nor was there a separate queue for women. I felt so sorry for a polling official who is suffering from Cancer. Yes, he wasn’t spared from Election Duty.

Everybody has seen the gargantuan  weight of the VVPAT (a component of the election equipment). It would have been such a relief if we could submit it first but  because one is a Govt servant it is one’s duty to bear that load. The harassment does not end there. After a long wait to reach the desk for submission of the prestigious First and Second Packets, we were asked to make a copy of some forms. Couldn’t they have instructed us beforehand during the training? So we had to queue up again for photocopying the documents at the stall which was put up at the ground. Even the photocopier gave up! We were all left to stand there till it was eventually fixed. After standing in the queue for hours, we were told we didn’t need the duplicates of the forms anymore! If this is not torture and harassment then what is?

My question is, why couldn’t the Election Department follow the previous year’s protocol ? Why was everything so disorganized? Why didn’t we have to go through so much harassment in the previous years? Election Dept should stop toying with us like little kids? Most of us were so disgusted that we left immediately without having the dinner served to us as a TOKEN of appreciation for being such tolerant and obedient SERVANTS of the Government.

Yours etc.,

Name withheld on request

 

Wanted direct tax regime! 

Editor,

Interestingly, Nordic countries are among the top ten happiest countries of the world in spite of their cold weather conditions. According to global happiness ranking 2017, Norway gets the top position, Denmark is at the second position, followed by Iceland at number 3, Finland at number 5 and Sweden at number 10! Indeed, these countries have given top priority to human development. Norway has been holding the number one rank in Human Development Index for a long time. Other Nordic countries are also enjoying high position in HDI. As a matter of fact, education including higher education is free in all the Nordic countries. Even international students are not charged tuition fees in those countries.

Moreover, Nordic countries have high levels of female representation in their parliaments. The average is as high as 40 per cent which is the highest in the world. These countries are secular. They are religion neutral as well as gender neutral where daddies get parental leave. It has been reported that in Norway fines for drunk driving are calculated according to defendant’s income. This system of fining on the basis of one’s income is right and just like its direct tax regime where one is to pay tax according to one’s income. Indirect tax regime like ours is not people friendly as here even a beggar has to pay equal and the same amount of indirect tax with his creamy counterparts when he is to buy anything from salt to slippers and from food to medicine.

Norway and other Nordic countries have shown that to make people happy; laws, taxation and development should entirely be human centric in the best way possible. We must get our priorities right. It is the masses and not Mars that the Central Governments should be thinking of!

Yours etc.,

Sujit De,

Kolkata

Irrational voters!

Editor,
Through the columns of your esteemed daily, I wish to express utter disgust that rape accused Julius Dorphang of Mawhati constituency lost by a mere 204 votes. It is very strange that a rape accused got such massive support from the people. Are the people of Mawhati not aware of the accusations levelled against Mr. Dorphang? It seems a lot of people lack the basic reasoning behind electing a member of the legislative assembly.

Yours etc.,

Rishiraj Adhikary

Guwahati -6