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Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS): Trimming of the Railway Board, the powerful body that governs the Indian Railways

  • IASbaba
  • January 3, 2020
  • 0
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POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Role of civil services in a democracy

Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS): Trimming of the Railway Board, the powerful body that governs the Indian Railways

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd January 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd January 2020

SRC: Twitter

Context:

  • The Cabinet recently approved trimming of the Railway Board, the powerful body that governs the Indian Railways. From nine, the Board will now have only five Members.
  • The Cabinet also decided to merge all central service cadres of Railways officers into a single Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS). 

What does it mean?

  • Any eligible officer could occupy any post, including Board Member posts, irrespective of training and specialisation, since they will all belong to IRMS.
  • The five members of the Board, other than a Chairman-cum-CEO, will now be the Members Infrastructure, Finance, Rolling Stock, Track, and Operations and Business Development.

Present system:

  • The Indian Railways is governed by a pool of officers, among whom engineers are recruited after the Indian Engineering Service Examination, and civil servants through the Civil Services Examination. 
  • The civil servants are in the Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) and Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS). 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).
  • Until the 1950s, the Railways system was run by officers from just three main streams: Traffic, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical. The other streams emerged as separate services over time.

Why reforms?

  • End inter-departmental rivalries, which it says have been hindering growth for decades 
  • Bibek Debroy committee in 2015 have noted that “departmentalism” is a major problem in the system and recommended merging of railways
  • A separate exam under the Union Public Service Commission is proposed to be instituted in 2021 to induct IRMS officers.

Why opposition?

  • The merger is unscientific and against established norms, because it proposes to merge two fundamentally dissimilar entities, with multiple disparities.
  • 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 age difference starts to pinch at the later stages of their careers, when higher-grade posts are fewer. There are more engineers than civil servants.
  • Protesters are also saying that the merger is against the service conditions which civil servants sign up for while choosing an alternative if they cannot make it to IAS.

Conclusion:

  • This methodology involves interpolation of officers of various services in a combined list, arranged in proportion to total strength of each service. The service with the largest number of officers will form the base. At the top of the combined list, toppers of all services will be placed in order of their date of birth—those born earlier being assigned higher seniority. Thereafter, officers of various services will be interpolated in between the officers of the base service in the ratio of the number of officers in that service vis-à-vis the number of officers in the base service

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think restructuring of Indian railways impact Indian civil services?
  • How do you think it impacts Employment?

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