Of late, Indian Railways has been affected by a extreme ailment, worse than Covid-19, viz rampant ‘departmentalism’, and creation of ‘silos’ which has severely hampered its effectivity and continued development. At current, a minimum of 9 main disciplines are concerned in working the 1.4 million robust behemoth, viz civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, materials administration (shops), operations, business, finance, human useful resource, and Railway Safety Power.
Intense inter-department rivalry for promotion and creating a bigger turf, has resulted in a extreme logjam in its sustained development to fulfill rising calls for for transport of freight.
Moreover, the practically 170-year-old behemoth has been severely hit by falling passenger revenues on account of the Covid-19. The time is ripe for some critical introspection and rebooting the administration ethos.
In a big transfer, the annual Rail finances had been junked 5 years in the past, which additionally eliminated the necessity for the Rail Minister to play to the gallery or reply inconvenient questions within the Lok Sabha. Working ratio was not the Damocles’ sword hanging on the Railway Board, and a re-organisation might now be undertaken. Taking a leaf from the Chinese language Railways, as early as in 2014, a gaggle of retired Railway officers ready a programme for coaching Railway Engineers who can be conversant with all the key disciplines which go into working the huge organisation.
The proposed syllabus reduces these disciplines to only two, a technical/engineering-oriented course and one coping with transport, finance and basic administration. The brand new breed of Railway Engineers must be a jack of all trades and grasp of none. Nevertheless, they’d grasp a specific self-discipline as they progress of their chosen self-discipline.
China presently has 10 such Universities devoted in direction of churning out 1000’s of railway engineers yearly. These are deployed in scores of rail initiatives in China and overseas, notably within the quite a few African Railways, which China has been serving to to develop and handle.
A BTech in Railway Engineering by a Chinese language college incorporates a basis course, which incorporates arithmetic, physics, pc engineering, ethics and management. Topics lined in Railway Infrastructure Engineering course are advance bridge planning, observe administration and upkeep, diesel programs, and so forth.
Moreover, the course for Railway System and Communication Engineering covers topics comparable to IT and app-based administration, transport economics, security and catastrophe administration, passenger info system, cellular communication, and so forth, all tailor-made and particular to working a contemporary Railway system. A few years in the past, NAIR, Vadodra had arrange a separate Nationwide Rail & Transportation Institute (NRTI) to draw younger aspirants who plan to go for Railways as a profession. On the undergraduate stage, they provide a four-year BTech course in Rail Infrastructure Engineering and one other in Rail Methods & Communication Engineering. Additionally they supply a 3 yr BBA course in Transportation Administration and BSc in Transportation Know-how. On the post-graduate stage, programs supplied are MBA in transportation administration, provide chain administration, transport know-how and coverage. MSc in transport economics, transport info programs and analytics are additionally accessible. So, is Railway Methods Engineering & Integration, which is an Worldwide diploma programme supplied in collaboration with the College of Birmingham, UK.
As well as, a personal establishment viz Sir Padampat Singhania College positioned in Udaipur has additionally began programs in railway engineering, and their first batch had reportedly been snapped up by the Nationwide Excessive-Pace Rail Company’s Bullet Prepare Venture, proving the necessity and advantage of such programs.
Indian Railways hopes to have the primary batch of railway engineers from NRTI inducted by 2023, after all, offered they clear the UPSC choice course of which is necessary for all such profession alternatives in Railways.
Reportedly IITs are additionally being inspired to begin these programs, which might assist improve the pool of rail particular engineers and improve their employability, particularly with non-public sector offering rail transport.
Nevertheless, for the reason that departments or the disciplines will live on and can stay lively as earlier than, it stays to be seen if the silos will get dismantled, because the officers working the 5 technical departments can be inducted from one stream.
The writer is former member railway board