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The bio-metric attendance machine

November 29, 2014

‘Our newspapers are reporting that sarkari babus have started coming to office in time. Is this news?’ said our Prime Minister in his speech on the Independence Day. Obviously the reference was to punctuality that had crept in the government offices due the installation of bio-metric attendance machines and the long term plan to connect it to the salary calculations. Fear of deductions in the limited official leaves that government employees are entitled to, and deductions in their salary had made each one of them punctual irrespective of where he is placed in the hierarchy of the government machinery.

Let us look at the way things now happen in any government office or a sarkari institution. It is nearly always hilarious. Instances of people rushing to mark their attendance even before parking the car in the parking slot, or paying the auto driver or rickshaw-walas are commonly visible in the morning. Such is the influence and fear of this small gadget called bio-metric attendance machine!

However, the evening scene is usually somewhat different! The advantage of this little gadget called the bio-metric machine is that the staff is available till the last minute of the office hour now. The earlier practice of packing their bags and leaving the office almost an hour before the official closing time is missing to some extent. ‘To some extent’…yes I have used these words because now the time for packing the bags and leaving the seat time has shifted to almost 15-20 minutes before the official closing time.

No, no. Don’t jump to a quick conclusion that these bio-metric attendance machines are not so effective! I did not mean that at all. People are not leaving their office early anymore!

The place where this attendance machine is installed becomes a social meeting place almost 15-20 minutes before the closing time. Each one pretending as if he or she just happened to be there a few minutes before the time. They will keep making insane small talk or just talking to each other while secretly keeping an eye on the time displayed on the machine. All sorts of talks and dialogues ranging from admiring the nice colours of the saris, bags and shirts, to political gossip or dissection of any official order or criticising their seniors for having been denied permission to attend a training programme so very vital for the next higher pay scale and grade pay or the non-release of long due arrears and so on, can be heard during that short span of 10-15 minutes. One can find people cracking jokes, some feeling happy and laughing, some are found to be grumpy and sore and criticising and complaining, some are just waiting and listening neutrally and are not in a mood to give any opinion or share any thought. But one emotion is common to one and all – waiting for the machine to show 5:00pm!

‘You know, in the morning it took several attempts before it could recognise my impression!’ said one member.

‘You could have tried the other finger impression you have registered. Have you not registered two finger prints?’ another remarked.

‘One should have all ten registered’, joined in another member in the conversation.

‘No, in fact each one of us should have registered five of ours own and other five of our other friends. Proxy attendance can then be marked in case of emergency!’ another member came with the idea that appealed to others too.
‘What a brilliant idea!’ some of the people there said aloud and some just admired silently and nodding their heads, some just smiled and looked on.

‘Why not sell the idea to administrator of the machine. Life would then be so comfortable!’ added another jokingly.

‘You know what a Secretary in one of the Ministry does? He has got one finger of his PA registered against his name and when he gets delayed, he phones and orders his PA to mark the attendance for him!’ said one of my colleague known for his humorous comments. This was his way to speak up and raise his concerns against any of the wrong doings.

‘Wish we too had a PA to mark our attendance’, was the expression seemed to have been written largely over the people around there.

Now this is also a form of ‘speaking up’. Because the ones who were talking about the escape routes are actually the whistle blowers of loop holes in the system!

However, to clean up India, we need people to be more than just whistle-blowers… we need them to do positive things. For instance, these office-goers waiting for the clock to strike 5 need to go back to their desks or cubicles or classrooms (if they are lecturers in a college) and resume doing their work until it is time to finally leave for home.

Well, to continue my story… just by then, the digital clock of machine just showed 5:00 and everyone got busy with verifying their own registered finger. Within seconds the place was empty of people. It was kind of a clean sweep…and I hoped the clean sweep of the thoughts of wrong doings too!

Now I had just happened to notice that even Strepsils is running a campaign and asking people to contribute positively in the ‘clean India’ campaign and to also speak up. So I could not resist sharing this information with my colleague.

‘My colleague had been unknowingly and truly contributing to the Strepsils’ Campaign #AbMontuBolega by raising his concerns about malpractices, if any!’ I thought.

I said to him, ‘You know Strepsils has started a campaign named #AbMontuBolega on Facebook and Twitter. It encourages people to speak up, and to raise and get your voices heard against anything unclean and dirty in India. And you are our Montu! We all know that you can’t resist pointing out a malpractice even though you do it in humorous way.’

‘We should all speak up whenever we see something that is wrong and gives our India an unclean image’, he added.

‘Not only speak for wrong doings of others, we too should refrain ourselves from following any malpractices!’ all present there agreed to it.

The atmosphere was becoming serious. To bring back the humour someone added, ‘To start with only own fingers to be registered for attendance!’ Everyone laughed.

.Biometric Attendance Machine
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Kyuki Bin Bole Ab Nahi Chalega #AbMontuBolega
This post is written to support the ‘power of voice to clean up India’ campaign run by Strepsils on a prompt on indiblogger
The #AbMontuBolega campaign website | Facebook page | Twitter account
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Sangita Passey
29 November 2014

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