Saturday, March 31, 2018


Decades ago while serving in a tribal area, during  a get-together ,a friend who unfortunately is no more, related an interesting anecdote. As a new recruit to Government service, he was given the diary and  despatch work as is the practice in case of ministerial staff.Pitted against the august company of  officers, in a party, he introduced himself as DDO, meaning ' Diary Despatch Officer'- the full form not disclosed.
After some years while serving another department on deputation, I was saddled with the responsibility of   the Head of Office and the Drawing and Disbursing Officer for the first time. During the fag end of the financial year, the office came up with the idea of making some purchases which to me appeared quite unnecessary and outlandish. In my wisdom ,I decided not to go for purchases and surrender the amount of  some thousands of Rupees , which almost amounted to my annual salary at that time.In the process, while  surrendering the surplus budget, a small amount was still left due to wrong calculation. I gave the nod to purchase a huge trunk to keep files and a fawwara for watering flower plants that grew in the office premises.The offices go for panic purchases and invite Audit observations.  I was able to avoid this.
While some members of the supervisory staff, consider it as an honour to be bestowed with DDO powers which gives them a false sense of importance and superiority, I have always considered it as a headache especially in the month of March, as due to release of additional funds at the last moments, there is pressure of clearing official bills especially the M.R.Bills of staff. The DDO at this time becomes a signing machine. Running to and fro between the treasury and the office  is quite taxing for the official entrusted with the job.Needless to say, many a time I have returned home in the wee hours in the morning.
It is also quite cumbersome for the departments carrying out development activities if they are not able to spend the allotted budget. I have seen many officers getting rebuked and reprimanded for this purported ' lapse'. This financial wisdom has always been beyond me, as I feel the emphasis should be on wise spending rather than on haphazard spending to exhaust the earmarked budget.
On the 31st of March, the boozers have a field day as the liquor gets cheaper with the licensee vendors being under a compulsion to exhaust the stock.
On one occasion, on 31 March, while going upstairs on a short cut from the Mall ,Shimla to the ridge, I was face to face with a person, visibility drunk.Per chance in trying to make way for each, we came running to the same side.Pat came the remark from this drunken friend " Lagta hai bhai sahib, hum dono ki haalat ek si hai !"☺️
So much for 31st March !

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