Monday, July 7, 2014

(empo-tuulwey) There are many possible solutions to the India Ministry of Information and Broadcasting attendance problem


In the nation of India, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting does all sorts of important things. Unfortunately, one thing the Ministry doesn't do is provide a brief description of its activities on its About page. Instead, we find a resume of the minister, and learn about very important things, such as the fact that the minister's son is a dentist, poet, singer, and music composer.

However, I'm certain that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting does all sorts of important things, since the website has a number of pages devoted to broadcasting, information, films, and other topics. All of this work obviously requires employees, and the minister - one Prakash Javadekar - obviously wants to make sure that his staff is working on these important things, and not composing odes to teeth or whatever.

So Javadekar stopped by the office one day:

On July 1, the minister had made a surprise check where he found that several employees of the ministry came late to work.

Javadekar had expressed his displeasure over the lack of punctuality among officials, and directed all staff to be present in office during working hours.

So how will he make sure that officials in their offices on time? He will adopt a solution that is being adopted - and debated - throughout India.


His solution was announced on the Ministry website:

Installation of biometric device for Attendance System (through finger print/face detection/ smart card) with in-built time and attendance software in office of the Ministry of Infonnation and Broadcasting (MS), Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi- regarding.

Yup, the employees of the Ministry are going to have to clock in, possibly with a fingerprint or facial image. So if Ian places his finger on a biometric reader at 10:17, and he was supposed to be in the office by 9, his tardiness will be recorded.

Does the wonderful world of biometrics provide a solution to the Ministry's attendance problem?


Biometrics provides a TOOL that may help to provide a solution to the attendance problem. Biometrics itself is not the solution.

To actually solve the problem, you need to explore the reasons behind tardiness. Perhaps traffic is terrible. Perhaps the employees are culturally obligated to listen to their children recite poems about teeth, and are therefore late to work. Biometrics does not solve these problems, and in fact the employees could even be sufficiently motivated to defeat the biometric system.

There are other ways to solve the attendance problem. For example, if people are supposed to be at work between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, you could simply lock the building doors between 9 and 4, preventing anyone from going into or coming out of the building. You could have a Human Resources person stand at the door of the building, and if someone walks up at 9:05 in the morning, the HR person can hand out a notice of termination.

In fact, Minister Javadekar himself has come up with an alternative solution:

When asked by Karan Thapar whether India could move towards a future where the I&B ministry “ceases to exist”, Javadekar said “Philosophically or ideologically I’d be willing to do that.”

Frankly, this is the perfect solution to the Ministry's attendance problem. If there is no Ministry, the attendance problem simply goes away.
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