Letters to the Editor
Step Motherly Treatment of ATMA Staff of Nagaland
The Chief Minister
It is a sad day for a citizen like me to take up this initiative and write to you about the pending salries/emoulment of ATMA a trend which has been continuing since the year 2019 till the present year. As you must know that ATMA is a centrally sponsored scheme initiated during 2005-06 to be responsible for technology dissemination at different district levels, the umbrella employs around 300 staffs who are well qualified graduates/Masters/PHDs streamlined from agri and allied background appointed after departmental exam/interviews over the years with the designation of DPDs, BTMs, ATMs and office staffs. We were promised emoluments for rendering our services to the farming community in the state as extension agents but the journey over the years has been rather a difficult one. I’m grateful that the scheme provides employment to the youths some of whom have a family now and also tackle the very problem of unemployment in the state. But if services are continuously rendered without timely provision of salaries isn’t it a type of exploitation?, with global pandemic taking a toll on everyone the word credit or Baki as we use the term in local shops is also a concern for ordinary citizens and the staff whose salaries are on hold since April 2021 till today. But this isn’t the issue as it has been continuing as stated since 2019, with 3-4 months salaries pending then only a month or two will be released and then the cycle continues. The commitment and dedication of ATMA staff working during pandemic times can be seen through daily local newspaper where a section of clippings with the term “ATMA conducts training/ATMA conducts demonstration” is seen to which even a village lad from different district in the state will acknowledge and vouch that the contribution of ATMA in agriculture sector is not a new topic. During our graduation courses we were taught in economics about types of unemployment such as Disguised unemployment, seasonal unemployment, structural unemployment an example of which we are living today “disguised” because we’re appointed as extension agent but without timely salaries so we are fit as unemployed, “seasonal” because we receive salaries only as per the seasons the higher ups (whoever decides to release salaries). So the question here is are we the 300 strong staffs really employed or unemployed? to which till today we don’t have proper answer.
We were quite happy when our Agriculture Minister Shri Kaito appealed “for extra responsibility and to spread awareness to the farmers to promote their output for self-sufficiency” and APC Shri Kikheto stated “Be ambassadors of organic products of Nagaland” to the farming section, thinking now that agriculture is the main focus in the state to improve livelihood and achieve food security due to the pandemic.. Our roles however minute it might be will help to contribute in state agriculture and in turn our circumstances will change as our emoluments too will be provided timely as agriculture is now the main game but alas it has rather been a disappointment since 2020. Even with lockdown restrictions staff were directed to perform duties, do field visits, conduct training and demonstration, etc. so with quite a few difficulties and pending salaries till today we are continuing our duties without any timely incentives alloted to us.
Therefore, it is a sad statement even to agree publicly that even with graduation/Masters/PHDs certificates with high qualification we are facing as stated “The disguised and Seasonal unemployment” in ATMA umbrella.
It is my earnest request to you Sir to kindly intervene in this situation and release the pending 3 months salary with a promise to provide timely salaries in time so that we can continue to render the best services to the farming community as an extension agent and our state agriculture can also take another step to achieve self sufficiency and become the ambassadors of Organic products as great leaders have stated.
As our former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru quoted, “Everything else can wait but not agriculture”, therefore I too hope that in the long run of our state running towards “Agriculture self sufficiency” nothing related to agriculture can be compromised and hoping that the ATMA role as an extension agent will also not be disregarded .