Over seven lakh agriculture employees across states are planning phased agitation, seeking an Indian agricultural service. Since they include scores of scientists and specialists, the strikes could affect politically-sensitive agriculture schemes, including those announced in this year’s Budget.
The demonstrations — to be spearheaded by the All-India Federation of Agriculture Employees’ Associations —includes central and state-level officials, faculties of 52 premier agricultural universities, the Agriculture Research Scientists’ Forum, All-India Technical Officers’ Association and the All-India Agricultural Students’ Associations. Together, these form the backbone of the agriculture sector, which offers livelihoods to two-thirds of Indians.
According to the federation, the lack of a cadre has affected promotion, perks and pay of staffers, resulting in a brain-drain. Nearly 40% of 60,000 posts of scientists and teachers are unfilled, the federation said.
The employees say they want their own cadre, which would comprise recruits trained in agriculture. They resent officials being drafted from other services. The director seeds, for instance, is from the Indian Coastal Service, which is totally unrelated to agriculture,” Sahadeva Singh, president of the All-India Technical Officers’ Association told HT.
“Despite being recommended twice by Parliament with two-thirds majority, an exclusive agriculture cadre has not been created. We will not rest till this happens,” Singh added.
There are about 450 category A and 633 category B “highly technical” officers and scientists in the farm ministry.