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Zonal Imperative

Zonal Imperative
Highlights

The Telangana government’s   decision to do away with the zonal system has triggered an intense debate with especially the youth from backward regions expressing serious concerns. The employees are unduly worried over the impact of the decision on seniority, promotions etc. 

The Telangana government’s decision to do away with the zonal system has triggered an intense debate with especially the youth from backward regions expressing serious concerns. The employees are unduly worried over the impact of the decision on seniority, promotions etc.

The government may not encounter any constitutional questions as warned by the opposition. Telangana is a separate State and it can decide on the fate of zonal system. However, the move will have grave administrative and legal complications. It’s not a political decision to brush aside the dissent. A thorough debate is needed to resolve many tangled issues.

The zonal system has two dimensions. It is an acknowledgment of Telangana identity. The prime objective in introducing the zonal system was to ensure inter-regional equity, which was evident from the fact that even in the united State Telangana was not a single zone. A mere reorganisation of the State does not make this objective redundant as the Telangana State has wide regional inequalities.

The reorganisation of districts creates new challenges for the existing zonal system. For instance, a few mandals in the fifth zone were shifted to the sixth zone due to creation of new districts. This interchange of mandals due to reorganisation of districts will lead to overlapping of different zones, resulting in several administrative and legal complications in relation to appointments, promotions etc.

The government, perhaps, decided to abrogate the zonal system to tide over this complex situation. But, the cure can prove to be worse than the disease. With the abolition of zonal system, there will only be district and state cadre posts. The zonal posts should either be downgraded as district cadre or upgraded as state cadre posts. It would create a lot of heartburn among the employees. Besides, such a shift would result in myriad anomalies in public services.

The formation of more districts is unlikely to correct the inter-district asymmetries, resulting in unequal competition. Thus, the zonal system remains an imperative to render justice to the backward regions in education and employment.

The simmering discontent emanating from the government’s decision to do away with the zonal system has a potential to arouse sub-regional sentiments. The history of Telangana movement is a testimony to this possible challenge.

The zonal system cannot be panacea for inequalities. But, it would certainly mitigate the damage due to persisting regional inequalities. Meanwhile, Telangana can no longer have only two zones. The reorganisation of districts makes even the reorganisation of zones an imperative.

Telangana is emotionally integrated. But, the social and economic inequalities still pervade. The categorisation of posts into different cadres should be carefully done to strike a balance between the efficiency of public administration and the need to usher in equity.

Any tinkering with the zonal system cannot be a unilateral decision. An in-depth study by an expert committee and wide consultations to evolve a consensus are the need of the hour.

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