Telangana

Indian Railways Management Service a result of the inter-department spat on Train 18

The inter-departmental spat over the ambitious project of the Indian Railways -- Train 18 is reported to have pushed the decision on Integrated Railway Management Service. The 16 AC coach train has been built from the ground-up by Chennai's Integral Coach Factory.

The inter-departmental spat over the ambitious project of the Indian Railways -- Train 18 is reported to have pushed the decision on Integrated Railway Management Service. The 16 AC coach train has been built from the ground-up by Chennai's Integral Coach Factory.   | Photo Credit: File photo

Performance and integrity to matter in promotions to top rung in Railways

The no-holds barred battle between the mechanical and the electrical engineering wings in the manufacture and approval of the ‘Train 18’ sets by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai could have been the tipping point in the tectonic move to have an unified Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS) in place of eight other services.

Top sources in Indian Railways indicated as much stating that Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was very much cross over the muck-racking exercise by the two wings “without any concern for the overall objective of the railways” and gave the go ahead.

“Train 18 is a victim of fight between two engineering wings. The mechanical department presumed that the electrical would sabotage the project and did not consult it while designing the system. They got it done through an outside vendor. It was later realised that the train was pulling too much power and there were other technical issues,” they explained.

Blame game

Both wings submitted four page notes putting the blame on each other. “Each department was trying to promote its own interest ignoring the train as a whole. It is an indicative how the railways function. Anyway, it has been sorted out and tenders called for with Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO), clearance,” they said.

The ‘departmentalism’ mindset seeped up to the Railway Board too with members rooting for their respective wings leading to “lot of problems” forcing the Chairman to “solve disputes and arbitrate arguments rather than focus on strategic issues and policy planning,” they claim.

Management changes have been made on the basis of the recommendations made by various committees starting from the Prakash Tandon, Sam Pitroda, Rakesh Mohan to the latest Bibek Debroy.

Bold step

“Everyone knew what is to be done, but the Railways Minister took a bold step and at a recent meeting with senior officials took the consensus of a majority of participants,” they said.

Apparently, officers of three wings — Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Account Service (IRAS) and Indian Railway Personal Service (IRPS) — all chosen from the Union Public Service Exam (UPSC) are ahead in seniority when compared to their peers in engineering services from two up to four years.

“Seniority and thereby promotions are determined by date of birth and confidential reports so much so that any young probationary is easily able to assimilate his career growth to the top. It has never been about efficiency and performance. A major restructuring has become inevitable if they are to become efficient and expecting a ₹50 lakh crore investment in the coming years,” top sources said.

Evaluating performance

However, apprehensions remain. “How do you evaluate the rankings among the top performers? It is very difficult to shed seniority aspect totally and choose the senior-rung based on performance,” says a senior official.

Such has been the rumblings that Chairman Railway Board (CRB) Vinod Kumar Yadav had a video conference with all divisional railway managers and tried to allay their fears. Even at the zonal level, respective general managers are discussing with senior staff even as some took to social media to vent their grievances.

Mr. Yadav insisted that the concerns of all the 8,400 senior officers would be addressed in a fair manner. “We are not going to promote anyone at the cost of the existing officers or demote anyone. Wherever necessary, we will have supernumerary posts but will ensure the efficient lot too get justice,” he said, when contacted.

Absolute integrity

Chairman Railway Board V.K. Yadav asserted that the restructuring plan is to ensure officers of one batch get promotions in one go and also propel those with absolute integrity to the top posts.

In an interview with this correspondent, he said the seniority of the existing officers would be determined inter-department wise as per the Bibek Debroy panel guidelines and later, the proposed Group of Ministers (GOM) will look into the postings and promotions after a thorough performance evaluation.

“It is likely to take three months for GOM to hold consultations and entire process could take up to a year. Till then postings, promotions and other benefits will continue as it is now with specialised engineers doing work of their domain only,” he said.

360-degree appraisal

Under the proposed performance evaluation, all the 350 officers joining the service each year will be evaluated through a 360-degree appraisal after their 15-year tenures for postings as DRMs with three senior officers benchmarking work based on interaction with peers, juniors and seniors.

“Just not having no vigilance cases will no longer do, we need people of absolute integrity at the top with proven efficiency through multi-source feedback,” said the CRB, contrasting to the present system where just the ‘top’ 34 of the officials get to become DRMs and above.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 2:05:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/irms-a-result-of-the-inter-department-spat-on-train-18/article30426632.ece

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