The much-awaited Indian Railways restructuring has finally got the Union Cabinet’s nod, and it promises to open new vistas to officers recruited through ESE by UPSC. In all likelihood, engineers now stand a chance to rise to the ranks of Secretary.
In keeping up with the Government’s policy of pushing in specialists into the top jobs, the Union Cabinet has attempted a brave move in restructuring Indian Railways like never before. In doing so, the Government of India has drawn out an ambitious plan to modernise Railways, and provide the highest safety standards, speed and services to the passengers with a proposed investment of Rs. 50 lakh crore over the next 12 years.
With such an investment, it is said to pump prime the job market for engineers in long term. Going by the policy objectives, this technical paradigm shift has been duly recognised and given its due by the Ministry of Railways. However, this ambitious plan cannot be implemented without recruiting in hands trained in technology, so as to apply for the good of the people in general, and the Railways.
As per the reform measure, 8 Group A services are likely to be unified into a central Indian Railway Management Service to end departmentalism, expedite decisions, and strengthen Indian Railways.
In simple words it means an end to the quota-based cadre management of engineers, and an opportunity for merit to excel. Going by the average age of ESE recruits versus CSE recruits, ESE stands to outweigh any competition for the top management positions. This is bound to have a massive impact on the morale and career prospects for the engineers taking the ESE route to the Railways.
All the said reforms are to be seen in the context that Indian Railways is a large and extremely complex organisation. It has a proud history of performance and service to the nation, but the current demand-supply mis-match has pushed it on the brink of irreversible downturn. The said policy reforms are said to cut down on the non-revenue generating departments, and focus primarily on the core services of Railways.
For a developing country like India of which Railways is the backbone, to remain competitive globally, this reform has to come through. Looking at the larger map of the competing nations, India indeed has been lagging behind. And, in the process the reform is going to put ESE on the right track.
A Brief History
Unification of services has been recommended by various committees for reforming Railways including – the Prakash Tandon Committee (1994), Rakesh Mohan Committee (2001), Sam Pitroda Committee (2012) and Bibek Debroy Committee (2015). All these committee reports recommended radical structural changes as well as implementation of a new investment strategy to meet the transportation needs of the nation in 21st century as well as to help Indian Railways recapture its past glory.
- Unification of the existing eight Group ‘A’ services of the Indian Railways, as mentioned below, into a Central Service called Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS). The government’s prime objective with this reform is to create a coherent vision for the Railways and promote rational decision making.
IRSE – Indian Railway Service (Civil) Engineers
IRSEE – Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers
IRSME – Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers
IRSSE – Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers
IRSS – Indian Railway Stores Service
IRTS – Indian Railway Traffic Service
IRAS – Indian Railway Accounts Service
IRPS – Indian Railway Personnel Service
- Re-organisation of Railway Board on functional lines headed by the Chairman Railway Board (CRB), who will be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with four Members and some Independent Members, who will be highly distinguished professionals with deep knowledge and 30 years of experience including at the top levels in industry, finance, economics and management fields.
- The existing service of Indian Railway Medical Service (IRMS) to be consequently renamed as Indian Railway Health Service (IRHS)
As per the reform, the unified Group ‘A’ service called ‘Indian Railways Management Service’ (IRMS) will be created from the next recruitment cycle in consultation with DoPT and UPSC to ensure fairness and transparency. This will facilitate the Indian Railways to recruit engineers/non-engineers as per the requirement. This will also offer equality of opportunity to both the categories in career progression, denied largely to the non-IAS UPSC fraternity.