Saturday, June 20, 2009

Defination of Gazetted Officers in India

A gazetted officer is a civil servant and the authority to stamp comes from president of India.
In India, Gazette is published on regular bases, it is a official Central Government Publication(nicked name Gazette). It publishes the promotions of of certain government official.

If a person's name is published in the Gazette, he/she is called Gazetted, in most cases they are honorary Justice of peace and have same standing as some of the Magistrates. This is why their signatures on certain document are recognised.
Therefore gazetted officer is an officer in Indian government service whose signature is required for attesting certificate copies & photograps of a person.

The Indian government officials are classified into Class C,D,B and A. The Class C and D consist of Upperdivision and lowerdivison clerks grade. Grade B and A belong to the class of officers whose transfer, appointment, promotion and supperannuation is published on an yearly basis in the official gazatte.These officials belong to the managerial class of the government services and belong to the policy formulation, policy implementation, personnel management and the like. Such officers, among other functions have also in their jurisdiction, the power to verify the documents for academic and other purposes

Any catagory of persons who are listed in "Gazette of India" are Gezetted. As simple as that..!!

Governments categorise their employees from Class 1 to 4.

Class 4: Unskilled or semiskilled.

eg. Peon, attender, driver, gardener, Lans Naik, Naik etc

Class 3: Semi skilled with no decision making authority.

eg. Clerk, Head clerk, Assistant, Typist, Stenographer, Telephone operator, Havaldar, Havaldar major and NCOs, etc

Class2: Officers with some supervisory/managerial role.

eg. Section Officer, BDO, Tahsildar, Junior doctors, Assistant Executive Engineer, Lecturers in Government colleges, Headmaster of Government high schools, Junior Doctors in Government hospitals, 2nd Lieutenant to Major, etc

Class 1: Executive power vested officers,with decision making powers.

All India services, though posted to states; promotees from states to the cadre of Assistant Commissioner and above and to the cadre of All India services ; Police officers of Circle Inspector and above; Additional District Civil surgeons, Executive Engineers and above, District Medical Officer and above, Lt.Col. and above, Principals of Government colleges and above, Readers and above of Universities, etc.

Nationalised bank officials are not gazetted officers but protocol ranks exist.

Among the powers and responsibilities of a Gazetted Officer, are the certifications and authentification of photo copies etc. That's why we go to them for attesting our copies where they actually have to see an original of that and certify that the copy is the actual copy of the original as seen by them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Attestation is Frustration - a short story

I had one of the most frustrating days possible …
It was one of those days with no overt mishaps, but renders you highly irritable all the same.

I have been postponing the application process for the DNB entrance examinations for almost a week now. And today would be the last day within the too-late limit. 28th of February being the absolute last day for submitting the form. It’s no big deal as such. The form, I had duly downloaded filled out and signed. The only problem was that it had to be verified and attested by a Gazetted officer.

A Gazetted officer is a higher-class employee with the government of India, who is given the right by the office he holds, to verify documents and attest photocopies and photographs and such other dubious material. The reason they are labeled as Gazetted officers is because the government publishes a half-yearly list including the names of these officials and details of their promotions, transfers etc, under the title of the Indian National gazette, or something to that effect. Supposedly, the list includes high-ranking officials of all fields, Magistrates, Medical officers, Law enforcement officials, Lecturers and professors of government institution and the like.

But try as I might to get hold of this ‘Gazette list’ to find a suitable candidate whose services I could enlist to finish my application process, I failed. It makes me look back yearningly at my student days when getting an attestation was an extremely simple process. Our Government hospital, abounded with Government employed Medical officers of all cadres. Somehow, for the past two years finding such a suitable person has been a very disheartening process. I have searched online a lot and posed questions in nearly every suitable forum. but everyone has their own ideas about this curious creature, ‘the Gazetted officer’.

Having no firm evidence and only a faint idea as to who might be a Gazetted officer, I have approached many people to see if they were ‘It’!. Surprisingly even the most well informed people I have approached, though well aware that they themselves were not tagged with the Gazetted label, could not point me in the right directions. They could give only vague ideas amounting to stuff I already knew.

So how do I manage…?

A couple of times, I actually sent all the relevant forms to a friend residing in the city of my alma mater to get them ‘attested’. That was the most desperate, but easiest way out.

I met up with a friend all the way downtown who, all but swore that her immediate senior, a medical officer of unknown variety, was Gazetted!. It worked out fine, that once, but it’s too much to travel an hour and half across the city for a mere signature.

So here is what I understand regarding a Gazetted officer - the type I could easily access namely - DOCTORS...
1) He needs to be employed in a government setup - state or central.
2) He needs to be a M. O or Medical officer in the least ( there are various types - Casualty M.Os, Resident M.Os, Chief M.Os, among many others)

Armed with this knowledge, I charted out the places I could hunt. The options were scarce. There was a government medical college not so far from home, which I knew should abound with M.Os, like my alma mater did. But there was also the risk of running into someone I knew, and I did not need that. Also the post office which was the second thing on my agenda today was vary far from the aforesaid place and it was mandatory that I post that completed forms today to make the 28th February deadline. Secondly, there was a hospital run by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, also not far from home. I was not so sure if I would be lucky there. But the plus point was that it was adjacent to a Post office which would expedite matters a lot.

So I decided to take a chance and settled on the second spot.

I think it would be prudent to mention here why am so psyched about this whole affair. As a doctor, I know I have an ego, which is larger than it should be for my plain M.B.B.S status. Secondly, recently having lost out in the rat race to get a post-grad seat, the ego has been sufficiently bruised to not want to run into people who might express condolences in any manner. This includes friends and family alike. Even a Gazetted Medical officer, in good faith might inquire when I had finished my basic training in medicine (it has not been that long, trust me!) is bound to make me feel like a failure.

At 12.30 PM, with all sorts of apprehensive feelings running through my head, just when I was about to leave home for the mini-adventure, I received a phone call. I would have reacted to it differently on any other day. It was a call for a job offer, from one of the best hospitals in city. It was a ‘plain post’, or a contract based house job, or house officer post. They wanted me to come for an interview at 2.00 PM, today. But the task I had set out to do was more important, finishing it up and making it to the interview by 2.00 pm would be cutting it real close. For I second I thought about postponing the forms matter and going for the interview. But I had already psyched myself to finish that unpleasant task today, before it was too late. And the job they were offering me was in General Surgery. I have never had keen interest in Surgery. Moreover, not being a resident doctor under any training problem I knew there would not be any ‘cutting’ involved, I’d pretty much be relegated to tending pre-op and post-op patients.

My mom tried to talk me into going for it. But I found myself tending towards the negative. Had it been a job in internal medicine, I would have pounced in it. So I decided to leave it to fate, if I could make it to the interview by 2.00 PM, I would give it a shot. If not…well…then it wasn’t meant to be.

So when I left home my mind was whirling with all sorts of depressive thoughts stemming from the insecurities of my future career. The last thing I needed was bureaucratic bullshit. And that’s just what was waiting for me when I reached the Municipal hospital.

In India, it is common to run into bureaucratic red tape in all places. I was not new to it. Being rest assured that the rest of their career and life is secure, Government officials tend to become highly complacent. Corruption is rampant in all tiers of the hierarchy. Getting any job done from a government office of any sorts is a very big achievement in itself. What I ran into was not frank bureaucratic corruptive bullshit like bribery or anything; but the other end of the spectrum - being shunted from one place to another, form one official to another with no avail.

Armed as I was with insufficient information as to whom I should approach, I found myself approaching even peons to point me in the right direction. I had to stand outside offices for 10 minutes, waiting for the ‘Medical officer’ who occupied it to bid me in, only to be told that they did not do such stuff and I should approach Dr. So-N-So for the same. Three such disappointing encounters and four times scaling the four-floored building, later I found myself in from of the Medical Superintendent’s office. Here it was a twenty-minute wait to be seen. Somehow, I found myself feeling hopeful, if a medical superintendent, the head of a State government run hospital is not a Gazetted officer, who could be? But I was in for a disappointment.

He point blank refused to cross sign my form and attest my photographs, after learning that I was not employed there. When I requested him to consider it as a favor (ok, I said please sir!!), he told me to get my original certificates verified from one of his subordinates, another medical officer, before he signed. I knew it was a lost cause, as I was not carrying my originals with me. Rather than groveling in front of that unhelpful fellow, I left.

Needless to say, after spending an hour in futile attempts to cut the shitty red tape, in a an already flurry mental state, I was seething with rage when I left the building. And as it was always does, when I am overwhelmed with anger, a few tears escaped my eyes. This has always been one of my weaknesses. Nevertheless, the job was still to be done.

I had to fall back on the other option and got the job done. By then, however, it was too late for the interview. It took me a few hours to compose myself after returning home. But mom whom I did not relate the above occurrences, thinks I missed the interview on purpose. I am calm now but still irritable.

Tomorrow is another day and I have more things to do, the topmost on the list is hunting for a job.


Attestation by Gazetted Officers - Irrelevant today .

Recently, I had to submit an application for approval as a “research guide” to a university. I discovered that the application process had not changed after all these years! I read all the small print and started following the instructions one by one till, at one point, I got stumped! I was supposed to enclose a copy of my doctoral certificate, attested by a Gazetted officer.

Who makes the rank?

For this, my Director (Vice-Chancellor equivalent rank) would not do, nor would the nearby bank manager. The nearest government offices being some distance away, my search finally ended with the husband of the young lady officer in a bank. He is a lecturer in the government-run engineering college and is a Gazetted officer.

Here I am, a full professor and occupying one of the highest academic ranks and yet my doctoral degree certificate has to be attested by a lecturer in the nearby college. I am quite a democratic fellow and do not set much store by rank. But the irony of the situation did not escape me and set me thinking.

I remember my older siblings and myself doing this when we were students. Attestation started at a time before photocopying was invented. So people made copies of documents (in earlier days, by hand) or got it typed. This was a long-drawn-out process involving many carbon-sheets and backing paper and typing words such as emblem and seal in brackets. Then you searched for the nearest Gazetted officer and waited till his junior was free. He would compare, in great detail, your original with the copy. He would then initial and return it.

Then the Gazetted officer would sign in green ink and give it back to you with good wishes for your application. Finally, the peon would rubber stamp the attested copy.

I can understand the purpose of attestation in those days. Documents could be tampered with by making very small changes in numbers or initials. A typist could make serious mistakes and this may not be noticed by the applicant. The government would be forced to rescind its decision when it got hold of the original. Perfectly understandable that the government should not waste time dealing with people without required eligibility.

Irrelevant today

But such errors are unlikely today when perfect copies are available by photocopying. The only valid reason, even today, for attestation is that in some smaller towns, photocopying facilities are not available or too expensive and a typist still makes the copy. Surely the government can make the distinction between photocopying and typed copies? And expect only typed copies to be attested? The real reason why this continues today is that no one in the government has done any thinking about the reason for it, or is simply not bothered to make any changes.

(The author is Professor, Goa Institute of Management, Goa.