Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Debroy panel suggests merger of Railway Group “A” services into 2; entry of IAS, IPS etc. into railways

Railway Probationers
IN A measure that could eradicate unhealthy inter-service competition and even bitter rivalry among various Group “A” services of the Indian Railways, the Bibek Debroy-headed panel has recommended consolidation and merger of existing eight organized Group ‘A’ services into two services i.e. the Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS) comprising five...
technical services (IRSE, IRSSE, IRSEE, IRSME and IRSS) and the Indian Railway Logistics Service (IRLogS) comprising three non-technical services (IRAS, IRPS and IRTS). BoI was first to report in an article on March 24, 2015 that the IR was contemplating such a move, and this could be suggested by Debroy panel. Debroy, an economist, is now a Member of NITI Aayog. The other members of the panel, constituted in September last year, include former cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, former head of Procter and Gamble Gurcharan Das, senior fellow in Centre for Policy Research Partha Mukopadhyay and former MD of the National Stock Exchange Ravi Narain. Here are 10 things the panel recommended on restructuring of railway services cadres.

1. The panel says rationalization of the number of services should achieve the required end objective of “eradicating unhealthy inter-service rivalry/competition that contributes to ‘departmentalism’”.
2. The merger of present eight services into one railway service is bound to be a dramatic decrease in the degree of specialization. But the committee feels that “going from the present system to the one service option would be too radical and not too practical a solution”.
3. The panel further says that the "one Railway service" option would require a very diverse set of skills and competencies to be available in a directly recruited candidate, which is “not an optimum situation, and could certainly not provide the optimal mix of the kind of professionalism and broad base required”.
4. The panel recommends that IR should consolidate and merge the existing eight organized Group ‘A’ services into two services i.e. the Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS) comprising the existing five technical services (IRSE, IRSSE, IRSEE, IRSME and IRSS) and the Indian Railway Logistics Service (IRLogS) comprising the three non-technical services (IRAS, IRPS and IRTS).
5. The panel says direct recruitment of officers to IRTechS should continue to be from the Indian Engineering Services (IES) examination conducted by UPSC, as is being done currently. The committee is of the view that holding a separate exam for IRTechS may not be desirable, as it may lead to dilution in the quality of candidates selected and would also entail extra expenditure on the exchequer.
6. The panel also weighed in another option of UPSC conducting a separate examination for recruitment to IRTechS after Class 12 and then imparting them specialization in railway engineering. But the panel is of the view that holding a separate exam through UPSC and then grooming the selected candidates in railway technology in a Railway University, is “still premature”. If there are indeed Railway Universities (as formed in China and Russia) there will be a pool of specialists in railway engineering, the panel suggested. “But India is still some distance from that objective. Once that Railway University channel is opened up, the UPSC route should not continue. Multiple channels should not exist”, the report says.
7. The panel says direct recruitment of officers to IRLogS (IRAS, IRPS and IRTS) should continue to be from the Indian Civil Services Exam (ICES) conducted by UPSC, as is being done currently. As in the case of IRTechS, the panel is of the view that holding a separate exam for IRLogS may not be desirable.
8. The committee also recommends the creation of a new service --- Indian Railways General Management Service (IRGMS). Carving out a new Group ‘A’ service will essentially require selection through a process of assessment conducted by UPSC from among eligible officers belonging to IRTechS and IRLogS, who fulfill the laid down eligibility criteria, the report says. It was also recommended by the panel that due weightage to general management qualifications (MBA, PGDM etc.) attained from recognized university, either before joining the service or after, should be given. As such, “the selection process has to be rigorous, fair, and transparent”, panel says. “It should comprise assessment of record of service, psychometric testing and interview by a panel of independent General Management domain experts to be chosen by UPSC,” the panel further suggested.
9. It  was further recommended by the panel that the selection to IRGMS be conducted for officers completing 13 years of service (at the time of grant of Non-Functional Selection Grade). But  the opportunity to existing officers with service more than 14 years also needs to be provided. For this purpose it is recommended that officers less than 52 years of age (eligibility criterion for posting as DRM) but having service of more than 14 years should also be screened for the IRGMS as a one-time exercise at the initial stage.  Also, officers who have already worked in General Management posts of ADRM, DRM, AGM, SDGM, GM should also be screened for selection to IRGMS. And there should be no quotas for officers of any of the existing services, nor should any other artificial barriers be permitted, and equal opportunity should be made available to officers of all organised Group ‘A’ services, the panel recommended.
10. Finally, the panel recommended that lateral movement of officers, both from outside (other government services) to IR and from IR to outside (deputation to other ministries), should be encouraged, without adversely impacting delivery of railway services. The lateral entry/movement should be permitted both in non-technical and technical departments, respectively based on the Central Staffing Scheme pattern. The panel notes that there is virtually no deputation of officers of All India Services or other Central Group ‘A’ services to IR. “Consequently, IR suffers from inbreeding and is deprived of the benefit of services of officers with a wider set of competencies and varied experience,” the panel says.
Is there a hint that IAS should handle some key posts in Indian Railways too, something the railway officers have stonewalled so far?

10 comments:

  1. IAS/IPS officers may find it very difficult to work in the already dirty politics of Railway services. Still its a good suggestion as it may bring some sense of insecurity in the 'stonewalled' Railway Services.

    Posting IPS in vigilance shall also serve the purpose.

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  2. As if IAS/IPS are free of dirty politics?

    Please comment on what happened recently at LBSNAA, Mussorie.

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  3. IAS/IPS railway ka aur beda gark karenge.....
    Bring middle level fauji officers from various discipline to save Railways...

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  4. It is good move that at some level you select to form Management cadre from diverse pool of officers. Similar measure to be done in central government to increase competition among all Group A officers to make them work harder, work innovatively. There is no need of IAS entry to railways, IAS has set enough bad examples of failed organizations across central / state governments. Atleast railways should continue to run for serving comman man

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  5. 2nd ARC Recommendation for having a Senior Executive Cadre SEC after 15 years of service and doing away with service categorization of services from then on, for manning senior posts in GOI is required to be implemented immediately.

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  6. IAS officers will never work under a boss from the railways. Most likely such lateral movement will occur at Chairman level.

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    1. This will be a good thing. Then railways will coordinate better with other ministries

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  7. There is absolutely no need for IAS to step into Railways Administration at any point of time. As it is they at the most get Pvt Secy post in Min of Railways & that should suffice. IPS officers on the other hand corner all posts in RPF & GRPF from IG level to the top and till date no direct recruit into RPF has gone on become Director General of Police - Railways. There is no need to tinker with the existing system and the Debroy Panel Report as usual should go to the Shredders.

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  8. But what about different educational qualifications? civil engg, electrical engg, electronics and mechanical? how will they work in one service?

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