“ DEAR salary, why are you not growing?” This happens to be the tagline of an illustration doing the rounds on Facebook.
The illustration shows a man urging his salary to grow up ( read increase) keeping in tune with the increasing cost of commodities such as fuel, bread and meat. It is grabbing plenty of eyeballs and generating loud guffaws.
For Nirmala Devi, though, this is no laughing matter. That’s because for the past 30 years she has been surviving on a monthly salary of ` 997, which after provident fund and other deductions, comes around to a take home of just ` 745.
The amount works out to less than what the planning commission had initially fixed as the daily poverty line — ` 28 and ` 32 — for the rural and urban poor.
For three decades, Nirmala, now 52, has been working as an attendant ( Class IV employee) in the state government- run Guru Shree Shanti Vijayji Ayurvedic Hospital in Rajasthan’s Mount Abu. It was in 1982 that she was transferred to her present job from the tourism department’s youth hostel.
When she had joined, the second pay commission was in force. In the last three decades, three more pay commission packages had been introduced, but Nirmala’s salary has shown no signs of growing, thanks to the state bureaucracy which had failed to fix her wage. As a result, she has been running from pillar to post ever since. And despite successive bosses having recommended her case, things have hardly improved.
Several representations were made, from state ministers to chief ministers to the Prime Minister, the President of India and even UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. But all efforts have drawn a blank.
In December 2009, Nirmala got a letter from Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik — replying on behalf of Sonia — informing her that her case was being referred to CM Ashok Gehlot for action. A year passed before Nirmala wrote to Gehlot in January 2011, drawing his attention to Wasnik’s letter.
But that didn’t help either.
A senior government clerk, who had been dealing with the case for about 15 years, said it appeared nobody wanted to take a call in such a long pending case as it would entail disciplinary proceedings against many officers for inaction.
On Monday, Nirmala narrated her story to Laad Kumari Jain, chairperson of the state commission for women, during her visit to Mount Abu. Jain assured her of help, but till that happens, Nirmala’s struggle continues.
FIVE PAY PANELS LATER
Nirmala Devi ( 52) works at the state government- run Guru Shree Shanti Vijayji Ayurvedic Hospital
For past 30 years she has been getting a monthly salary of ` 997, which after deductions, comes to ` 745
Despite pleas to even the PM, nothing has happened