A merger to better manage the Indian Railways
- A recent Gazette notification regarding the creation of the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS) marks a paradigm shift in the management of one of the world’s largest rail networks.
About the merger and IRMS
- A nearly 8,000 strong cadre of the erstwhile eight services is now merged into one.
- Eight out of 10 Group-A Indian Railway services have been merged to create the IRMS.
- The merged services are: Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS), Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE), Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSS), Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), Indian Railway Service of Civil Engineers (IRSE) and Indian Railway Stores Service (IRSS).
- Aims of the restructuring: Besides removing silos, this restructuring also aims at rationalising the top-heavy bureaucracy of the Indian Railways.
Way forward: Training
- Training the future leaders of India’s public transporter in the rapidly evolving logistics sector of the country is the most important task ahead.
- The UPSC will recruit a few hundred IRMS officers each year from now, they will remain much less in number when compared to already serving officers for a long time to come.
- Training of the existing cadre of officers: The fact remains that even after the creation of the IRMS, the 8,000 strong (already serving) officers of the Indian Railways will need to work in coordination and not in silos, as they will be serving in the organisation for decades to come.
- This highlights the importance of training of the existing cadre of officers as they will have to deliver on the ambitious Gati-Shakti projects.
- The task of training such a dynamic talent pool assumes importance in view of India’s aspirations of becoming a $5 trillion economy.
- All this will require a massive revamp of the capacity building ecosystem of the Indian Railways.
- Redesign the training: The merger of services provides an opportunity to redesign the training for newly recruited IRMS officers to make them future-ready. Initial training along with mid-career training programmes may be reoriented.
- The IRMS training needs to be designed based on the competencies required for different leadership roles.
- Mission Karmayogi of the Government of India provides for competencies based postings of officers.
- The Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT) programme of the Government of India will be instrumental in shaping the career progression of IRMS officers.
- Future IRMS officers should be ready to face the challenges of working in an organisation that is involved in round the clock and round the year operations, has substantial social obligations to meet and, at the same time, which must earn for itself.