Probationers in Indian Railway get unique opportunity to traverse length and breath of this country. I think no other service gives this much exposure in travelling as the Indian Railways. In other services, probationers are taken on ‘Bharat Dharshan’ but we are literally on Bharat Dharshan at any given moment of time.
I have recently been to some naxal affected areas of Jharkhand as a part of my field training. In field training , probationers are sent to actual construction sites of Railways. It is quite obvious that construction activities take place in far off areas from the cities. Those areas where railway has not reached have been left behind in the developmental process.
Construction unit in field is headed by Deputy Chief Engineer who is a JAG grade officer. He works under Chief Engineer who sits at headquarter. Under Dy. CE there are many Inspector of works, assistant executive engineers and executive engineers for carrying out the work. This whole organisation is separate from open-line setup. Separate offices, resthouses and other infrastructure is developed for construction organisation. The head of construction organisation in a zone is Chief Administrative Officer who reports to General Manager.
Government of India’s policy is to counter naxal and maoist narrative with the prospect of development of the state. Development is really the effective antidote for any kind of extremism and insurgency. In this respect , Railways is seen as the major force behind any kind of growth story. There are many Railway projects going on in Jharkhand. I have to Hazaribagh-Ranchi site. As you move away from Hazaribagh towards Chatra forest range, the threat perception of naxals increases significantly. It is not like you will always encounter naxals in these areas, but all the contractor and govt. officials work in their shadow. As of late, contractor is more harrased than govt officers. Basically he has to pay levy to them for working in their areas. Sometimes vehicles are burnt, sometimes labors are threatened , basically an atmosphere of fear prevails which is not healthy for developmental process.
Given all the circumstances, Government has to work through its agencies , one of which is Railways. We represent the will of the state and in doing so we have to exert our authority on behalf of Government of India. We have to construct new line inspite of all the challenges which lies before us. So the first thing is to motivate yourself and your subordinates for working on the project because such kind of post are considered as punishment posting. Once you have made your mind then only you can move forward. So the first hurdle is you prepare yourself. Infact in civil services, the exposure is more while in railways the contact is limited. So they face greater risk in working in these areas. You must have heard of DM’s being kidnapped or the attack on police convoy. For the Railways threat is not only to officers but also to thousands of passengers who are travelling on these routes.
The essence of public service is developing the most backward areas of our country. People write lofty answers in the examination but the real test lies here. It should not be said that officers alone can bring about change. Primarily it is the responsibility of politicians to be harbinger of change. It is they who make the policies and we implement it. So a backward state ruled by good politicians should be the idea place for true civil servant. Similarly a backward state ruled by corrupt politicians is the most unsuitable place to work. Sometimes, this works as feedback loop in which poor people are main victims. All the politics in our country is played in the name of poor but he always remains poor. Officers play a very small part, their main role is the effective implementation of task given to then by their political masters. In IES, there can’t be much interference because nature of job is technical and it can’t be left to discretion of anyone.
My personal experience from this tour was quite positive. In these areas , there is natural beauty tarnished only by the acts of men. We went to different construction sites:
Apart from extremist challenge , there are engineering challenges which is our main work here.
We also went to that site where naxals had burned contractor’s vehicle. In the name of ideology, this has become an extortion business and our pseudo-intellectuals posing as champion of human rights should come down to see what is being done in name of ideology. There is a severe need of pushing for growth in terms of infrastructure development in these areas. It only through these means that government can counter the narrative of left wing extremism.
We stayed in Guest houses at different places. This is one big advantage with railways that we never have to think about travelling and staying in any part of country. Our seniors always take care of us. They make sure that we face no problem whatsoever.
Overall this was an enlightening experience which definitely enriched our perspective of this great nation. In probation there is an opportunity to experience in real what you have studied in theory. It gives you a glimpse of your career ahead. The diversity of work and the challenges ahead are put before us in detail. Also, the probationary period gives us unique opportunity to look into the actual working of government organization without having to bear any kind of responsibility.