Arunendra Kumar steers clear of the usual management speak, advocates good work-life balance.

Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board (CRB), may be helming the world’s fourth largest railroad network and biggest employer, but during his extensive interactions over two days with a cross-section of junior administrative officers of the Southern Railway, his advice was more about maintaining good work-life balance than about improving operational efficiency of the loss-making behemoth.

A few ‘J’ grade officers who participated in meetings with the CRB said that they could scarcely believe their ears when Mr. Kumar steered clear of the usual management speak, and, instead urged them to ensure that they spent quality time with their family. The CRB, in fact, wanted supervisor officers to be more liberal in not only availing themselves of leave to spend time with the family but also in granting leave to their juniors.

“His approach was refreshingly different … quite unlike that of any of his predecessors,” said a mid-level officer who listened to an address by Mr. Kumar at the Integral Coach Factory on Monday.

According to sources, the CRB also seemed to be addressing redtapism in the Railways when he suggested that different departments should stop functioning within walls. Any matter that was discussed in a cordial atmosphere instead of the usual bureaucratic mode had a better chance of being resolved quickly, was his reasoning.

Mr. Kumar also advocated cordial labour relations, urging managements to engage more with trade unions and the latter to reciprocate constructively.

On Tuesday, the CRB carried out a quick inspection of the passenger amenities at Chennai Central and MMC suburban stations, the quality of bed-rolls at the linen factory and the Integrated Security System at Central. He told officials to frame a plan for developing the frontage, bus bay and taxi stands at Chennai Central.

Mr. Kumar told newsmen that adequate fire safety measures were being taken up to prevent mishaps. He also wanted the travelling public to cooperate by not carrying inflammable materials.

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