All-India NABARD Employees Association (AINBEA) has called for a forward-looking recruitment policy at NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) that takes care of hiring feeder cadre employees, too. It requested the Chairman of the apex agricultural and cooperative bank to stop the practice of direct recruitment of Grade A officers and fill-up vacancies instead by promoting eligible hands from Group B, except in highly technical jobs. 

Practice in RBI

This has been the practice in parent Reserve Bank of India, which has proved rewarding too, Rana Mitra, General Secretary, AINBEA, said in a letter to the Chairman, NABARD. “We also witness rampant contractualisation of Group B and C jobs. We urge the management to immediately end casualisation at all levels. It should also consider regularisation of contractual workers currently working at various levels of NABARD and its subsidiaries,” the letter said. 

Shortage of staff

Mitra told businessline the letter is a follow-up to appeals for recruitment of Group B and Group C staff. NABARD suffers from shortage of workmen employees, especially after retirement of bulk-recruitees in 1984. No regular recruitments had taken place thereafter, save a few in 1990, 1995, and 2016.A base-level support system that sustains demand for lower-level positions through promotions is found lacking. In fact, protracted agitation by AINBEA had forced hiring of a woefully inadequate number in 2016. 

Minister of State for Finance Bhagavat Karad told the Lok Sabha in December last year that the total number of vacant posts in NABARD was of two whole-time directors and 1,011 of other employees - 514 in Group A, 174 in Group B, and 323 in Group C. These vacancies arose from time to time due to various reasons such as superannuation, resignation and voluntary retirement

Agreement violated

Mitra said Grade A positions are filled based on an agreement between the management and AINBEA in the ratio of 70:30, i.e. 70 per cent from Group B and 30 per cent from the open market. The management has not been adhering to this agreement, he alleged. There is an immediate requirement for periodic recruitment at Group B level as per the spirit of the settlement. 

The absence of a feeder cadre at the base level has affected the quality of service, especially in the administrative and operational areas wherein regional language plays a major role. “We are given to understand the management is finding it difficult to nominate DDMs with knowledge of regional language. Recruitments of Group B officers and filling up of vacancies in Grade A as per settlements will give needed fillip to rural development work, that too in a cost-effective manner,” Mitra said.  

Employee multitasking

A majority of recently recruited Group B officers are engineering graduates/post-graduates from various disciplines. AINBEA had signed an agreement on July 8, 2005, that provided for ‘multitasking’ of staff after suitably training them. It would have offered productive and rewarding fixes to the manpower problem. “This would mostly be in the line of RBI, leading to regular recruitments in fairly large numbers of workmen employees in clerical, peon and maintenance cadres,” Mitra said. 

The AINBEA does not find any logic in outsourcing regular NABARD jobs to subsidiaries. In this context, Mitra urged the Chairman to consider merging subsidiaries with NABARD, particularly since it is facing serious competition from nascent National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development. Core competence in agriculture and rural development should not be frittered away. This does not augur well in the long run, with even parent RBI busy restoring core functions to itself.