One of the largest hospitality contractors working for the Railways, RK Associates, found itself in trouble after posting a newspaper advertisement seeking “100 male candidates from Agarwal Vaish community” and from a “good family background” to serve in the railway system. The Indian Railways does not stipulate the intake of candidates by contractors on the basis of caste or religion.
Published Wednesday, the advertisement sought candidates for managerial positions in food plazas at stations, train catering, base kitchen and stores. It went viral on social media, with the top brass of the Railway Board and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), of which RK is a vendor, taking note.
Facing the music, RK Associates tells IRCTC that two different advertisements got mixed up due to clerical error. One was for recruitment in Rlys catering, other for its “social welfare” program. Issues apology. “We did not realise what happened until…”@IndianExpress
— Avishek Dastidar (@avishekgd) November 7, 2019
On Thursday, IRCTC asked the company for an explanation. “RK confirmed that the manager of its HR department, responsible for the recruitment ad, has been removed from the job because of this ad,” a Railway spokesperson told The Indian Express. IRCTC officials said the contractor has placed the HR manager under suspension for the lapse.
Railways also issued what it termed a “strong displeasure letter” to the company. Some in the ministry were of the view that this kind of advertisement is illegal and RK’s contract should be cancelled. However, a view emerged in the morning that this did not, technically, amount to a violation of the contract conditions. The advertisement was from Brandavan Food Products, an RK company.
Issuing an apology to IRCTC, the contractor claimed that two different advertisements got mixed up due to a clerical error. “Our objective was not to hurt anyone and not bound to offer the job to any specific community and are open to offer the job to suitable, eligible and skilled candidates, which we are doing since the inception of our company,” the company said in a statement.
“The advertisement will be changed and the revised will be published in due course,” it added.
RK Associates was in the past embroiled in a CBI case on what was labelled the “Rail Neer scam”.