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Move to merge cadres: With postcards, petitions to PM, railway officers intensify stir

Thousands of postcards are being readied to be sent to Modi and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, signed by civil servants and others from Railways, demanding two unified services — one technical and one non-technical — instead of one for civil servants.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
December 28, 2019 5:45:44 am
Railway officers write to Modi and Piyush goyal, Railway officers demand two unified services, Railway officersoppose govt decision to unify all cadres, india news, railway news, indian express news Postcards are being readied to be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal. (Photo: Express)

From next week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will start receiving thousands of postcards from serving Railway officers demanding a rollback of his Cabinet’s decision to unify all railway cadres into one.

Thousands of postcards are being readied to be sent to Modi and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, signed by civil servants and others from Railways, demanding two unified services — one technical and one non-technical — instead of one for civil servants. A separate petition addressed to the PM and Goyal, signed by aggrieved officers from all 68 divisions of Indian Railways, is being mobilised, too, rebutting the justification for one unified cadre.

“Merger of services will hurt the development of Railways and safety of passengers. #NoToIRMS #yestotwoservices #SaveIndianRailways,” say the postcards, addressed to Prime Minister of India, Raisina Hill, New Delhi. Some postcards simply say “No To IRMS” and “Yes to two services”.

Within days of the Cabinet approving the merger of eight organised Railway services into one Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS), the voices of apprehension have grown louder. Railway unions will organise a stir between January 2 and 7.

Questions are being raised on the way the Cabinet note was apparently “finalised a few hours before the cabinet meeting early Tuesday without wider internal consultation”. It is being said that one Railway Board member had verbally mentioned in internal deliberations that in every government system, the Accounts service is kept separate for better accountability and bipartisan scrutiny. But officially, the decision has approval of all Railway Board members.

The protesting officers are from Indian Railway Traffic Service Association (IRTS), Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS) and Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS).

Officers have highlighted in a petition that “Parivartan Sangoshti”, the two-day brainstorming session that apparently brought the merger idea on the table, “misrepresented” civil servants. “The civil services, which were grossly misrepresented at the decision-making level in the Parivartan Sanghoshti, were left without being heard,” the petition says. “It had participants divided into little groups headed by GMs, most of whom are from Engineering services. Who would say anything against the wishes of a GM?” asked an officer.

The petition being readied for the PM and Goyal will maintain that the unification will not solve the problem of departmentalism. Since specialisation will continue to exist in the Railways, thanks to the various functions, departmentalism will continue. It will maintain that unification will affect safe running of trains due to competing interests among various specialisations, those in the know told The Indian Express.

All 68 divisions of Indian Railways are sending separately signed petitions through “official channels” to the Railway Minister and PM. A petition from Kharagpur division in South Eastern Railway argues that “creation of IRMS will only make every officer inclined to protect and promote the interest of his field brethren and will concretise departmentalism”.

The Cabinet note states that “newly recruited officers will come from Engineering and non-Engineering disciplines as per need and posted as per their aptitude and specialisation to allow them to specialise in one field”. The petition says that this “itself means that specialisations (read as Departments) will continue to exist in Railways”.

Officers told The Indian Express that many left lucrative jobs in the private sector and trained as engineers and MBAs to serve as civil servants in Railways. “The move will only throw up court cases,” a senior officer said.

“We will go to trains and tell passengers what is happening with their Railways,” Shiv Gopal Mishra, secretary general of All India Railwaymen’s Federation, told The Indian Express.

The Railway Ministry on Friday issued a statement saying no one will be at a disadvantage due to the move. “For this, Ministry of Railways and DOPT will together work out the necessary formula before it is taken up by Alternative Mechanism. It will be ensured that no one will be at a disadvantage,” it says.

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