Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS)-THE HINDU-06-01-2020
The Union Cabinet has approved the organizational restructuring of the railways through the unification of the existing eight Group A services into one central service — the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).
The move was required as there was huge “departmentalism” that delayed many projects.
What is the present system like?
The Indian Railways is governed by a pool of officers, among whom engineers are recruited through the Indian Engineering Services Examination and civil servants through the Civil Services Examination.
The engineers are in five technical service cadres — Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE), Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE), Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSSE) and the Indian Railway Stores Service (IRSS).
The Civil Servants are in the Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) and Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS).
Why was the reform needed?
The government wants to end inter-departmental rivalries, which it says have been hindering growth for decades.
Several committees including the Bibek Debroy Committee in 2015 have noted that “departmentalism” is a major problem in the system.
Most committees have said the merger of the services in some form would be a solution.
The Debroy panel had recommended the merging of the eight services into two — the Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS) comprising five engineering services (IRSE, IRSSE, IRSEE, IRSME and IRSS), and the Indian Railway Logistics Service (IRLogS), comprising non-technical services (IRAS, IRPS and IRTS). The government has now collapsed all services into one.
The government has followed the Prakash Tandon Committee’s recommendations of 1994 as it was apprehensive that even if there are two services, there would be infighting.
What will change with the restructure?
The Chairman along with four members responsible for
Operations and Business development,
Rolling stock and
Finance respectively will form the Railway Board.
The Chairman shall be the cadre controlling officer responsible for Human Resources (HR) with assistance from a DG (HR).
Three apex level posts shall be surrendered from Railway Board and all its remaining posts shall be open to all officers regardless of the service to which they belonged.
The Board will also have some independent non-executive 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.
People with a specific skill set might be pushed to perform other work about which there is no clarity.
The merger is unscientific and against established norms, because it proposes to merge two fundamentally dissimilar entities, with multiple disparities.
There is growing uncertainty over promotions and career progression of the officers who are currently employed in Railways.
There could be misunderstanding between civil servants and engineers in Railways.
The civil servants come from all walks of life after clearing the Civil Services Examination.
The engineers usually sit for the Engineering Services Examination right after getting an engineering degree. Various studies have noted that engineers join the Railways around the age of 22-23, while the civil servants join when they are around 26, barring exceptions.
The civil servants are saying that if all present cadres are merged and even higher departmental posts become open to all, engineers, being in larger numbers and of a certain age profile, may end up occupying most posts, if not all.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will be conducting an exclusive examination for recruitment of officers to handle specialised services in the newly created Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).
Candidates aspiring to get into railways will have to appear for the prelims after which they will indicate their preference for IRMS under five specialities — four of them engineering specialities for ‘technical’ operations comprising of civil, mechanical, telecom and electrical, and one ‘non-technical’ speciality which will recruit officers for accounts, personnel and traffic.
This means the Engineering Services Examination, which selects officers for five out of eight railway services, will become redundant.
Indian Railways will now provide the UPSC with its exact requirement of engineers, e.g. for electrical and mechanical. The UPSC, will, in turn, choose them from candidates having those as optional subjects.
The first batch will be recruited in 2021, while the new five-member board with merged officers will be in place by mid-2021.
The government, it’s learnt, may also make it mandatory to select non-engineers — e.g. for accounting, traffic and personnel — from a few disciplines such as economics and commerce, restricting the entry of recruits with optional subjects such as history, political science, sociology, among others. However, this will have to wait until the GoM takes a final call.