India

Indian civil servant sacked 'after 24-year sickie'

File image of an Indian worker at a government office in Calcutta Image copyright AFP
Image caption India's bureaucracy is notorious for its inefficiency

The Indian government has sacked a civil servant who went on leave in 1990 and never came back to work.

Urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu said a case of "wilful absence" had been proved against electrical engineer AK Verma.

Mr Verma had been under investigation since 1992, but had refused to co-operate, the minister said.

Correspondents say absenteeism is a pervasive problem in government-run offices in India.

Mr Naidu said in a statement that Mr Verma joined the Central Public Works Department in 1980.

He had risen to the rank of executive engineer by 1990, when he went on leave.

An inquiry was set up in 1992, but formal proceedings to dismiss him were not begun until 2007.

It took a further seven years for the department to reach a decision and dismiss him.

It is not clear whether he was paid during his time off.

Falling absenteeism

India's bureaucracy has become notorious for high levels of absenteeism.

A report in 2012 labelled India's government machinery the worst in Asia.

Schools have also faced problems, with teachers failing to turn up for work in huge numbers.

Last August, a state school in Madhya Pradesh sacked a teacher who had been absent for 23 years of her 24-year career.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to curb slack working practices when he took office last year.

The AFP news agency reports that he makes unannounced visits to government offices, and absenteeism has since plummeted.

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