Modernization of Indian Railways

Jun 13, 2012 10:59 am 10 comments

An attempt for total re-engineering of organisational and structural system of Indian Railways

Introduction: Indian Railways (IR) has been attempting to reform itself with the help of many commissions and committees from time to time unabatedly. Indeed, general public and valued customers are not happy with the achievements in respect of Organisational Culture (OC) and Organisational Development (OD) or improved whole organisation as expected.

Why IR could not achieve the same in the line of business organisation is a different question, but surely it can be discussed how best IR can be approached towards a professionally operated service oriented business organisation for the welfare of our dearer customers, IR and also our nation.

Present Scenario of IR:

Broadly each zonal railway has total 11 departments including Medical and Security i.e. Mechanical, Electrical, Civil Engineering (Engineering), Signal & Telecommunication(S&T), Material Management(Stores), Operation, Commercial( both operation & commercial called Traffic), Personnel, Finance(Account), Medical and Security.

It is observed that inter-departmental parochial in-fighting is eating away the whole developmental attitude in Indian Railways. Thus, if one department proposes a project for overall development involving other departments, surely one or two of those departments will stand on way to protect its own interest ignoring the whole IR’s interest. Similarly, stores, accounts, personnel department may not agree to the proposal showing their own rules and regulations or orders.

So, the biggest hindrance for any sustainable development of IR is the presence of existing multi-cadres system. This system became worst due to heterogeneous essential entry qualifications of directly recruited gazetted and supervisory cadres through UPSC and Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) respectively. These non-uniform essential entry qualifications do not help to create an attitude and also aptitude for well perception of day to day working problems including strategic planning, its implementation speedily and cordially amongst the different departments with sense of integrity. The problems become very critical to the customers while travelling in trains due to lack of co-ordination and integration within the working officers and staff of different departments / wings on board and platforms to tackle the day-today complaints of customers professionally. Ultimately, blame–game amongst them (rail personnel) makes the customers most sufferers.

Now, IRPS is doing simply a post office job. If we see the website of IRPS, it is well understood how they are passing time in their career without any effective discussion on any innovative activities/performance related to organisational development(OD). Similar scenes are also observed in the websites of IRTS and IRAAS.

IRTS or traffic people are dependent solely upon technical departments for cooking up their own stock of information for onwards transmission to higher bosses.

IRAAS people never did any innovative study how best account department could be upgraded for the greater interest of IR in respect of improved system of work. But, there are a lot of scopes to make a/c. deptt. more simplified and rationalised to help all other departments with positive attitude.

In financial front, a foolhardy decision of MR s (Minister of Railways) not to increase the fare and futile attempt to earn more from alternate means for the last consecutive eight (08) years, a mismatch between expenditure and revenue earnings has been created resulting in a high shortage of resources of funds. Thus IR has become financially too week to maintain its core activities i.e. track, signaling, rolling stock, stations and terminals, for improving efficiency and safety, augmenting existing capacities of Railways through indigenous development

Critical analysis and Recommendations:

1. Since Indian Railways (IR) is basically an Industry of Transport-Service / life line of our nation and 65% – 70% employees are of purely technical oriented to serve our dearer customers (passengers & freight loaders) through core activities of train running, the rest 35% – 30% employees of supporting cadres like Traffic, Personnel and Accounts, particularly gazetted officers and supervisors should also be technically qualified as the case may be i.e. degree/diploma. In IR, people from other than technical education (degree/diploma) in IRPS, IRTS and IRAAS can not be also better than Engineers with back-up of respective specialisation like MBA (HRM/HRD/HR), MBA (Finance) and MBA (Operation) etc. or appropriate management education and training in IR’s Institutes. Of course, IR’s Institutes should be upgraded more or less equivalent to any reputed management Institute in India.

2. Therefore, there should be single technically qualified cadre in gazetted officer (IRSE – Indian Railway Service of Engineers) and supervisor level. The minimum basic technical qualifications (degree / diploma) should be like these disciplines: Mechanical, Electrical &Electronics, Civil, and Electronics and Telecommunication etc..

2. The candidates recruited through UPSC in case of direct officers and RRB for supervisors shall be in-house trained with cross disciplinary exposure and posting including operation, personnel and accounts & audits.

3. All officers up to SAG should be posted in a cross disciplinary manner with routine job rotation in all wings/departments including RDSO, except in medical and security to gain multi-disciplinary skills on the job and better perception of day-to-day problems being faced and their immediate solution with positive attitude for the interest of whole IR. After SAG, there should be a selection for onwards promotion to PHOD/DRM/GM on their option for i) General management and ii) Executive / Field( Open line, Workshops, RDSO etc.).

5. It is observed and experienced that the CEO, Country Head, Chairman, MD etc. of big corporate houses like ITC, ONGC and many MNCs are/were from Engineers with management education or even without it. Their performance proved and raised them to ultimate highest position. Mr. Y.C. Deveswar, Chairman of ITC is a mechanical Engineer (IIT) with management back up from Harvard. Subir Raha, ex-Chairman of ONGC, a graduate in Electronics & Telecommunications Engineering, specialising in Industrial Electronics from Jadavpur University in 1969 and later he did MBA from University of Leeds in 1985. Rajat Kumar Gupta, ex-Managing Director of Mckinsey & Company, is Bachelor of Technology degree(B.Tech.) in Mechanical Engineering from IIT-Delhi and an MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS) 1973. Ramesh, Country Head of Dorma India Pvt. Ltd., a MNC, based in Madras, is graduate in mech. engg. Subhasis Ganguly, country Head of a MNC, Hydro Building System (India), based in Bangaluru, a graduate in mech. engineering from JU. There are huge examples like these people heading big organisations.

Moreover, preference is always given to recruit from campus of IIMs with technical back up in any branch, rather than without technical back up. It is not a myth, but a fact from statistics. More or less 80% of students in IIM Joka, Kolkata are from engineers.
In IR, people from other than technical education (degree/diploma) in IRPS, IRTS and IRAAS can not be also better than Engineers back-up with respective specialisation like MBA (HRM/HRD/HR), MBA (Finance) and MBA (Operation) etc. or appropriate management education and training in IR’s Institutes. Of course, IR’s Institutes should be more or less equivalent to any reputed management Institute in India.
Now, IRPS is doing simply a post office job. If we see the website of IRPS, it is well understood how they are passing time in their career without any effective discussion on any innovative activities/performance related to organisational development (OD). Similar scenes are also observed in the websites of IRTS and IRAAS.

IRTS or traffic people are dependent solely upon technical departments for cooking up their own stock of information for onwards transmission to higher bosses.

IRAAS people never did any innovative study how best account department could be upgraded for the greater interest of IR in respect of improved system of work. But, there are a lot of scopes to make a/c. deptt. more simplified and rationalised to help all other departments with positive attitude.

All their manuals also require drastically upgraded for smother and more effective day-to-day work.
A basic knowledge of Engineering, should be had with those three departments’ officers, particularly, those who are recruited through UPSC not only to understand the working of IR which is an Industry with about 65% – 70% people of technical know how, also to work shoulder to shoulder for the benefit of better services to the valued customers of IR through running trains with safety, comfort, punctuality and better behaviours.

To implement this, IR has to recruit single cadre system i.e IRSE or Indian Railway Service of Engineers to abolish departmentalism.
Besides, to evaluate the performance of officers for promotion to higher post upto CRB, appropriate and justified decision can easily be arrived in case of a single ‘engineers’ cadre.

Presently, justice can not be done while promoting an officers to DRM/GM/Member/CRB from account, traffic, personnel, elect., mech., civil, S&T, Stores. It is like a comparison among apple, guava, cucumber, tomato, pin-apple etc.

Prakash Tandon Committee Report, 1994, appears to be the best one out of all Reports so far received by IR for better service and development of organisation. The speciality of this report is that it is of only 53-pages and indicated clearly how single cadre in IR can be implemented to abolish departmentalism for the interest of whole IR, not for a part of IR.
Anyway, there should be an open, free & frank and healthy discussion on this topic keeping in view of Tandon Committee’s Report.

6. As on March, 2009, 29.99% of total route kms. were electrified. If it is analysed critically, it is observed that there is neither valid acceptable justification financially for Return On Investment (ROI) nor any other advantages except in as an alternate traction to Diesel one. Moreover, under the insufficient generation of electric power in our country, a large number of agricultural fields and farmers thereof are being deprived of electric power due to reckless electrification. The expenditure per electric loco is much higher than that of one Diesel Loco ( about 2.5 times than Diesel Loco). Besides, in any heavy accident, heavier loss is incurred (time, money and inconvenience to dear customers) than Diesel traction.
Therefore, it is recommended to stop all electrifications to save huge money which can easily be diverted to other sustainable developmental projects for strengthening IR’s financial position.

7. All projects appeared in RSP and Works Programmes simply being kept alive providing a token amount of fund for years after years should be reviewed seriously and scrapped immediately.

8. Fares for passengers and freight must be increased at per the demands of prevailing market price to match expenditure and earnings for the better customers’ service including facilities and amenities like safety, security, punctuality, comfortable travelling, cleanliness, no harassment by RPF and GRP, availability of water 24 hours in running train with proper arrangement for authorized paid service of pure drinking water etc..

9. Regarding security, first of all both RPF and GRP must be withdrawn. Particularly, GRP must go away immediately to save huge funds. RPF should be taken off gradually. Instead, armed CISF should be deployed with the power of presenting the culprit, suspect to the court within 24 hours of arrest. At the fist instance, RPF should be deployed only in the stationery installations like workshops, training school & Institutes, goods shed etc. CISF should be deployed at running train, station, track etc. For this Indian Railways Act 1989 may be amended if required for the Customers’ interest and also country thereof.

A study report on RPF done during mid-ninety in S E Railway, Garden Reach, and Kolkata may be referred in this context. It may also be available in Board’s office under E&R (ME) directorate.

10. There should be further Man Power Planning by non-railway agency of repute like PWC, Young&Earnst and others over the departments like Personnel, Finance, Security and Operation. Last MPP was done by RITES who made about 40% rail personnel excess and recommended to reduce personnel @3% per annum. Thus the present strength has been achieved 13.86lakhs (2008-09) from 16.52lakhs (1990-91).

11. Political dictatorship by the leaders of political party should invariably be restrained at all level to the maximum extent possible for effective and smooth management of Indian Railways (IR). Therefore, head of the IR as Minister of Railways(MR), should function as Titular head of IR, instead of existing manner of whims and exploitation of IR’s platform in the personal and party’s interest. Railway Board’s decision through CRB if returned thrice by MR, the decision will automatically be binding on MR to approve or sanction to save the country’s LIFE LINE from breaking down to the ground.

12. To generate revenue from non-conventional method, it is recommended that all vacant land may be utilized for production of agricultural products on lease basis.

Since 1965 grow more food scheme initiated by late Lal Bahadur Shastri, ex-PM of India was started in Railways’ vacant land. This was implemented at Raipur, now Chhattisgarah, Kharagpur and other places too since long time ago. It gives no problem of permanent structure and rather produces more food for the nation. At any moment, in the exigency of railways’ developmental project, lease can be withdrawal. IR should take this advantage leaving side other utopian idea like building of commercial structure for hotel etc. which destroys the railways’ land only creating hindrance to the sustainable developmental projects, whenever required in future.

10 Comments

  • Nice article. keep it up.

  • VIPUL AGARWAL

    Its true that rampant / thoughtless electrification is reason for many woes. US railways which is one of the very few Railways (profitable) runs on Diesel primarily. Electrification should be kept as an option only for specific routes.

  • THE INDIAN RAILWAYS PRESENTS THE GENERAL SLOTHFUL WORKING CONDITIONS OF GANGMEN AND CLASSTHREE AND 4 EMPLOYEES. A360 TURN AROUND WITH THE HELP OF JAPANESE MONEY AND TECHNOLGY IS REQUIRED.THE SANITATION AND HYGIENE STANDARDS ARE SO POOR ON THE PLATFORMS ,TRAINS STATIONS. ACCOUNTABILTY AND RESPONSIBILTY IS POOR. TEKHEDARS AND CONTRACTORS RULE THE ROOST . GERMAN TECH IMPORTED FOR RAJDHANI BOGIES IS NOW SO POOR SINCE THE SEATS AND TOILETS INSIDE ARE MADE BY LOCAL CONTRACTORS. JAPANESE MANGERS, FOREMEN AND SENIOR AND MIDDLE LEVEL MANAGERS IN HUNDREDS ARE REQUIRED TO COME AND BRING THE RAILWAYS TO 2014 STANDARDS. FARES ACROSS THE BOARD MUST BE RAISED FOR ALL CLASSES. TO MAKE THE SYSTEM VIABLE.

  • Admittedly my knowledge of railways is highly limited. I found the recommendations of improving the OD and OC very enlightening, however I get the feeling that the IR first and foremost needs to significantly reduce its size and scope. The IR controls virtually all aspects of rail technology from R&D to manufacturing and comprehensive operations. Yet the terrible safety record of the IR is testament to its poor rate of modernization. Wouldn’t it be better to limit the IR’s role to daily operations and oversight while handling over most other aspects to the private sector?

    Furthermore a large share of this burden can be attributed to political populism.

  • anupma sinha

    I found This article is about the need of re-organised the working pattern of the organisation.study of working of all departments and with the help of developed technologies upgrade the working.
    The biggest problem of the IR is only Group ‘A’ & ‘B’ will have essential upgradation training schedules.
    Administration should pick the upcoming staff from ‘C’/’D’ and provide them essential training.Put the result oriented staff on fast track of promotions. they will provide much better results.
    Employees who are working very hard are on the same position from years get frustrated later suffer with major health problems.
    Second Now-a-days Information Technology is the base of every work and this biggest employer has no proper setup of IT department still whether they are out sourcing the softwares. Its offices are still ot well equiped. on paper IT department is formed on 01.04.2005. still no promotional channel even still very less qualified staff in the department most of them can be do data entry only. if technically sound staff will join IT department he has work harder to fullfill all seniors demand without asking any career benefit.
    BSNL and other department has regularize their IT department as UPSE exam is not conducted for this category. But IR is least concern about the future growth of its employee. IR makes only ‘BREAD EARNER’ Group ‘C’ and ‘D’. Tey can’t growth as Class one Can. does’nt matter how Intellegent and hard working he is.

  • anupma sinha

    Railway Technical Cadre Examination also include Exam for IT department into it.

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