The government first made it harder for bureaucrats to wriggle out of serving in the Northeast. Now, it is trying to make their life in the northeast easier.
The government has liberalised rules allowing Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service officials belonging to the four cadres of northeastern states to opt for voluntary retirement after 15 years of service, five years before those based in other states.
The four cadres cover states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland and Sikkim.
The decision is one of the series of measures recommended by a committee chaired by the former revenue secretary, Vineeta Rai.
The committee was constituted soon after the government tightened rules placing restrictions on allowing All India Service officers to change their cadre.
It was not rare for officers desperate to change their cadre from a north-eastern state to “fall in love” with a colleague, get married and ask the central government to post both of them to a third state.
The new rules stipulated that if two officers allotted a cadre in the northeast married, only one of them could change their cadre. It was only if the state governments concerned refused to accommodate the second person that they would be allotted to a third state. But the government depending on its requirement would identify the third state, not the officers.
This rule, intended to ensure that the region did not fall short of officers, had led to heartburn among younger officers. The recent Vaidyanatha committee report reviewing the IAS induction syllabus had noted how the first reaction of most officer trainees allotted to these cadres was “one of angst and apprehension” and recommended counselling for them at the civil service institute.
In line with the Vineeta Rai committee recommendations, the department of personnel and training has also allowed officers posted to the region to give a list of three states where they would like to settle down after retirement. These officers would then be treated at par for post-retirement housing with officers of the selected states.
Also, the government has allowed officers allotted the four cadres to avail of leave travel allowance every year while serving in the northeast and children’s education allowance at par with Indian Foreign Service officers serving abroad.
Besides, the officers and their families posted in these cadres would be entitled to air travel on referrals to super-specialty hospital in emergency situations. Women officers serving in the northeast would also be allowed use of army hospitals in addition to existing facilities available to all officers.