If you are preparing for IES and wish to join Railways, this article is important for you. If you are preparing for civil services, then also have look. For all those who have willingly or unwillingly come into Railways, Bibek Debroy Committee’s recommendations for restructuring of Railway Services promises new changes which may completely overhaul the existing organisational structure.
This panel suggested various reforms for Indian Railways but here we will look only at human resource management chapter of this report. If implemented, whatever little bit you know about Railways services is going to change. So, have a look at this article to know how IR will take shape if these recommendations are implemented.
What is the Problem?
IR is a complex, multi-departmental, and operational organization spread across the country, with approximately 1.3 million employees. There are about 400 different categories of Group ‘C’ employees and 10 Group ‘A’ services, of which 8 are organized Group ‘A’ services. The main problem in IR is Departmentalism. The term “departmentalism”, as being used here, refers to the negative aspects of functional specialization in IR.
Let me explain in simple words. There are so many officers in IR and so many departments that one department doesn’t work in harmony with others. They promote their department’s interest over the interest of organisation.
In light of this basic issue and lot of others which i will not detail here. This panel proposed following recommendations.
What has been Proposed?
IR should consolidate and merge the existing eight organized Group ‘A’ services into two services i.e. the Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS) comprising the existing five technical services (IRSE, IRSSE, IRSEE, IRSME and IRSS) and the Indian Railway Logistics Service (IRLogS), comprising the three non-technical services (IRAS, IRPS and IRTS).
Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS):
Direct recruitment of officers to IRTechS should continue to be from the Indian Engineering Services (IES) examination conducted by UPSC, as is being done currently. Thereafter, once that new system of entry is in place, the recruitment of a few officers through the Special Class Railway Apprentices route should be discontinued, as the raison d’être for it is no longervalid. Candidates belonging to the existing engineering streams (electrical, mechanical, S&T, civil etc) who are eligible for any of the Railway engineering services and who appear, qualify and obtain preference based on their merit should be recruited to the common single IRTechS. Alternatively, the option of conducting a separate Railway engineering exam by the UPSC has also been suggested to us. However, this Committee is of the view that holding a separate exam for IRTechS may not be desirable as it may lead to dilution in the quality of candidates selected and would also entail extra expenditure on the exchequer.
Indian Railways Logistics Service ( IRLogS)
Direct recruitment of officers to IRLogS should continue to be from the Indian Civil Services Exam (ICES) conducted by UPSC, as is being done currently. As in the case of IRTechS, this Committee is of the view that holding a separate exam for IRLogS may not be desirable. A similar procedure as recommended for IRTechS should be followed in the case of Group ‘B’ officers inducted into Group ‘A’. Promotion of Group ‘C’ officials to Group ‘B’ posts of the accounts, personnel, commercial and operations departments should continue to be done through the existing procedure, except that for promotion to Group ‘A’ IRLogS, there will be a common seniority list drawn up of all Group ‘B’ officers belonging to different departments.
Fixation of inter se seniority: Determination of inter-se seniority of officers belonging to various cadres recruited from different channels has always been a contentious issue in IR. With the merger and consolidation of the existing eight organized Group ‘A’ services into two services at lower levels and three services at middle management levels, a credible manner for evolving a merged seniority list of the various batches will have to be adopted. In the first instance,this will include drawing up common seniority list for IRLogS and IRTechS within the two sub-groups, and then a combined seniority list of officers belonging to both these sub-groups. More importantly, the combined seniority lists will be required not only for fresh recruits, but also for those already in service with long years already spent in the IR system. While this Committee admittedly does not possess the expertise to work out the common inter se seniority of Group ‘A’ officers of the two services (IRLogS & IRTechS), and this should ideally be worked out in detailed consultation with UPSC and domain experts, we do wish to underline that a credible and equitable methodology for the purpose is a sine qua non for the proposed restructuring . Unless a satisfactory formulation is evolved and executed, recommendations on restructuring of Group ‘A’ services in Railways will essentially remain a non-starter.
Lateral entry:This Committee found that although there are some IR officers who proceed on deputation to other Ministries in the Central Government under the Central Staffing Scheme, this number is quite small and is largely restricted to deputation at Deputy Secretary/Director level posts,with the exception of a few at the JS level. This Committee observed that performance of IR officers on deputation has been largely of high standards, and that these officers have also been enriched by such exposure and experience. However, this Committee notes that there is virtually no deputation of officers of All India Services/Other Central Group ‘A’ services to IR. Consequently, IR suffers from inbreeding and is deprived of the benefit of services of officers with a wider set of competencies and varied experience. As such, this Committee is of the view that lateral movement of officers, both from outside to IR and from IR to outside, should be encouraged, without adversely impacting delivery of Railway services. The lateral entry/movement should be permitted both in non-technical and technical departments, respectively based on the Central Staffing Scheme pattern. This Committee further feels that in order to enhance the acceptability of such a proposition: (a) The number of posts to which deputations (lateral entry from outside) are to be permitted must be clearly identified, based on a rational criteria; (b) Inflow of talent from outside, such as chartered accountants, cost accountants, bankers, financial management experts in financial management posts, personnel from CPWD,research assistants from leading labs and universities (IITs etc.), scientists from Government labs etc. (to join RDSO and training institutions)on deputation should be encouraged; (c) A system of balancing has to be devised so as to ensure that career advancement of Railway officers is not adversely impacted. This can be done by ensuring a net outflow of Railway officers (i.e. number of Railway officers on deputation minus number of other services officers coming on deputation to Railways) is retained at present levels; (d) Deputation of officers well conversant with Finance, PPP, resource mobilization etc. in other wings of the Government,can be effected through the Central Staffing Scheme. These could be to general management and financial management posts in the Railway Board, technical posts in RDSO, as faculty to NAIR and other training institutions.
I will end this article with following quote said by Paul Theroux, The Imperial Way, 1983.
India is a vast and complex place. The phones seldom work, the mail is unreliable, the electricity is liable to sudden stoppages. There are numerous natural disasters and there are 800 million people. It is almost inconceivable that the country is stillviable……Towards the end of my Indian journey I decided that India runs primarilybecause of the railway……It is impossible to imagine India without the railway, or tothink what could possibly replace it