By Ninong Ering and Abhishek Ranjan
The AGMUT cadre – comprising of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories (UTs) – has outlived its purpose. It came into formation as a result of chronological democratisation of constituting units and was created to make the administration of ‘loosely controlled’ areas more in line with the UTs. After Independence, a special administrative service – the Indian Frontier Administrative Service (IFAS) was created to manage the administration of the frontier territories. The IFAS underwent significant expansion from 1954 onwards. However, in 1968 this service was merged with the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) for a variety of reasons. Thereafter, in 1988 the UT cadre was established and Arunachal Pradesh was amalgamated in AGMUT.
UTs being homogenous and smaller in area are relatively less complex and are far easier to administer, whereas Arunachal – being highly diverse and larger in area – is far more complex and hence poses an altogether different challenges to be administered through the same lens. The AGMUT model has failed to meet the pressing needs and demands of the growing population, and a change in the current system is desperately needed.
Despite having gained Statehood 30 years ago, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the few states in India to be bereft of a single cadre. The Joint Cadre setup has led to the lack of institutional memory, adhocism in policies and has resulted in a latent chaos in the administration. It has led to the ill-implementation and execution of Central schemes which has prevented the developmental initiatives from percolating to the grass-roots.
As per the statement of objects and reasons of the separate cadre of AIS bill, 2016 tabled in Lok Sabha, it has been said that officers who spend a good amount of time in the State and understand it better in terms of administration are transferred to other location of AGMUT cadre probably never to return which creates gap in administrative understanding. When joint cadre was allotted to Arunachal Pradesh, it was a new State. But time has arrived now to consider a separate cadre for Arunachal Pradesh under All India Services which will only simplify administration and make governance more efficient and effective in the State of Arunachal Pradesh.
Even smaller States like Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim have their own separate cadre now but a larger State like Arunachal Pradesh does not have one. Thus, the Government should provide a separate cadre to the State of Arunachal Pradesh now. Section 35 of the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986 contains provisions relating to the All India Services. This section has to be amended in order to create a separate cadre for the State of Arunachal Pradesh from present AGMUT cadre in all three All India Services.
Familiarity with the place and its issues, professional competence, and a sense of empathy with the locals are all essential pre-requisites for civil servants. However, a short tenure of 2-3 years in AGMUT units has served as a deterrent to develop these traits among officers. By not consulting the state government in complete violation of Clause (3) of the All India Services Act, 1951 “which states the Centre to consult the States in matters of regulation of recruitment and conditions of service”, the Centre has undermined the authority and identity of Arunachal Pradesh. It has caused a dent in the federal structure of ‘Indian Republic’.
The provisions and operations of AGMUT cadre have clearly been detrimental to the state’s development. Arunachal Pradesh’s importance in India’s geopolitical framework has increased with China’s military disposition along its northern border with China, particularly after the Sino-Indian military standoff at Doklam near the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction in June 2017 and Beijing’s continuous reference to Arunachal Pradesh as southern Tibet, which makes it a special case that needs urgent action.
A separate Cadre will not only ensure continuity in administration, it will also abate ad-hocism in policies and prevent chaos in the system. It will reduce the bureaucracy’s alienation with the people of Arunachal, aid in better conflict resolution, and propel the inclusion of more locals in the state’s machinery. Most importantly, it will result in greater public satisfaction within AP, and bring the people of Arunachal Pradesh closer to its government.
While the benefits of a separate cadre are apparent but it needs to be aided through a holistic approach. First, a comprehensive policy to expand the state’s administrative capacity and inclusion of state service officers by easing the promotion norms will ensure that the vacancies are filled within a short time. Second, capacity building institutions needs to be set up which shall impart regular capacity building sessions to help serving officers be professionally competent and develop better understanding and dealing of local issues. Lastly, additional incentives need to be provided to make the service in state more lucrative from other cadres. Perks like special allowances, leave for higher studies, post-retirement benefits etc. can be offered to attract best talents.
Though the institutional limitations will hinder the state’s development for some period but a diligent and persistent effort to alleviate the state’s concerns would help Arunachal Pradesh get mainstreamed into the country’s economy at a faster pace.
(Ninong Ering is a Member of Parliament, Arunachal East and Abhishek Ranjan is a Policy Analyst. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org).