Ref: Presentations by Railway Board (OSD-MS) and IRPOF
Sushil Kumar Bansal*
Two presentations have recently been made before full Board one by Management Service Directorate (OSD-MS) and the other by Indian Railway Promotee Officers Federation (IRPOF) highlighting their respective view points on the above subject. Both presentations indicate totally diversant views and very few meeting points, just like perhaps Indo-Pak, summit-presenting their respective positions on Kashmir and meeting nowhere. Still decision has to be taken, to fix the cadre atleast and also evolving a suitable/logical recruitment policy for Gazetted cadre.
It is therefore proposed to discuss this issue in detail and depth, through this paper of mine. It is worth mentioning here that I, through 7-8 papers submitted between Oct.-2000-Feb.-2001- have discussed the issues thread breath cadre fixation as also career development for Grp.`B’ officers-in much detail. The presentation made by OSD-MS makes it very clear that the Board has not given any consideration to the views expressed there in through these papers-submitted by the President of a recognised Federation of Grp.`B’ officers. Again, despite a presentation made by the IRPOF, where in several facts have been revealed/pointed out, the Board wants to persist with the details given by the Board, through their presentation through many of these facts in are correct, and indicate already set up mind/attitude.
The perusal of both presentations brings-forth one point very clearly that the stand taken by few officials, as back as 1996-97, based on certain pre-determined notions, has been presented in year 2001 again with old argument but in a new form only. In 1996-97, as per MPP directorate of Boards paper, the maximum number of direct recruits, which can be recruited in a year was 168, where as per present presentation this is 172 (in the year 2001). Despite many meetings, submission of numerous papers, lot of discussions having taken place in between, the Board is struck up with the same figure preciously 172 even today, without taking into account any argument, any paper, any submission made by IRPOF in-between.
It is very important to mention here once again, that in a meeting held on 07.04.2000 in the chamber of Member Staff, when the figure of 181/year for recruitment was given to the Federation, many discrepancies were pointed out there in, by us,. It was accepted that in light of these, the figure many be 203-204, Board promised to come up with revised details shortly.
In order to clear the issue let us present our view point once again, keeping in consideration the present presentation made by the Board on the subject. There are two issues mainly i.e. Cadre fixation and Recruitment Policy first thing first, i.e. Cadre fixation.
A. Cadre Fixation
In their presentation to the Board, Managment directorate has come to a magic number of 720 posts in Junior scale. As per their details, 180 of these should be for Grp.`B’ promotees and the balance 540 for direct recruits. These numbers of posts for Junior scale, knowing well that for the last 2 decades (since 1980s) the number of only leave reserves in Junior scale is 602 till date. This means actual cadre of Junior scale shall be only 118 (720 decided – 602 JS/Leave reserve). The number 180 has come from the Rly. Administrations stipulations/and study of the needs of Career Planning of Gp.`A’ direct recruits – that any recruitment beyond the number of 172 shall be detrimental to the career graph of Grp.`A’ direct recruits.
Once the number of 172 say 180 is arrived at by this consideration (maximum of recruitment possible) and since the Grp.`A’ direct recruit has to remain for 2½ years (1½ yrs. being probation period) say 3 years. The number of posts should be 180x3 = 540 for direct recruits. Adding 180 for promatees (in fact they do not remain for 1 year even in Jr.scale) the Rly. Administration has come to the magical figure of 720 (540 DR+180 Promotees) for the total cadre in Junior scale).
If the suggestion of Management Services directorate is accepted, then the cadre structure will be:-
HAG & Above - 155
JAG - 826
JAG+SG - 2254
Sr.Scale - 2880
Jr.Scale - 720
TOTAL - 6835
Grp.`B’ - 4905
GRAND TOTAL - 11740
It is evident, that by this type of cadre structure, the universally accepted pyramidical structure in most of the traditional organisation specially in government organisation shall be violated very violently. The only logic in fixing this much cadre in Junior scale, is the need of providing adequate career progression for direct recruit Grp.`A’ officers.
This Federation on earlier occasions, through many papers on the subject, has brought to the notice of administration, that based on many rational factors, as indicated there in, the cadre fixation in Junior scale should be in the range of 50% of the total cadre of assistant officers. Various historical factors brought to the notice were as under:-
(i) The number of Junior scale posts taken into consideration for all calculations – called as notional posts – were 2842 even upto 1990.
(ii) The number of sanctioned Junior scale posts shown in classified Gazetted cadre booklet upto 1985 were above 2050.
(iii) Even the Jt. Director (Gazetted Promotions) in his note in June 1988 indicated that more than 2000 Grp.`B’ officers are working on adhoc basis, against Junior scale posts.
(iv) The then Advisor – Management service – Sh. Singla in his paper submitted in international senior, submitted the number of Junior scale posts to be in the range of 4000.
(v) The number of leave reserve Junior scale itself is was 602 even in 1980, the actual number should be much more than – many times – of this.
(vi) The total posts in Assistant officers being above 6000, the number of Jr.scale logically should be not less than 4000 (60% & 6000 + 602 LR).
In view of the above, it is totally illogical and actually malafide to fix the number of Junior scale posts at 720 only in the total cadre of 6000 Assistant officers.
One of most shocking as also regrettable aspect of all this exercise is that cadre fixation is being used for he career development of cadres, though both are distinct for all purposes. The cadre fixation and recruitment should be totally distinct from each other.
If, only for a second the career progression of Grp.`A’ direct recruits is forgotten, while deciding the cadre strength, then the only number which shall be considered logical for Junior scale cadre fixation, will always be near about 4000 Nos. and that should be so. But also what is being done is that the cadre fixation – is being made tool for career progression of direct recruits Grp.`A’ as the same time with no such positive consideration for Grp.`B’ promotee officers.
May, we categorically say, that since there is only one grade for Grp.`B’ officers, there is no system of career progression for them except increasing the number of induction in Gp.`A’ for them.
Further, the Railway administration is contemplating to bifurcate the cadre of Junior scale – 540 for direct recruits and 180 for Grp.`B’ promotees. Under what system, rules, regulations only the assistant officers cadre can be bifurcated has not been indicated. Grp.`B’ officer’s Federation, however has no objection in bifurcation of cadre, provided off-course, it is bifurcated upto the top at least upt SAG grade, right from Junior scale cadre. In our opinion, it is not legal and logical to bifurcate the cadre only in Junior scale.
After all these discussions it can safely be said that the fixation of cadre, to 720 numbers is not based on any argument, logic or facts except the blind consideration of providing adequate/satisfactory career progression for Grp.`A’ direct recruits and that also at the cost of Grp.`B’ promotee officer’s fate and career prospects. For a model employer Government organisations like railways, equal consideration for all cadres is expected, which is shockingly not being observed in all these deliberations, of career fixation.
If is cadre is to be fixed, then the number of Junior scale posts cane be in the range of 4000 or so and nothing less.
B. Recruitment Policy
The Management directorate, in its presentation has submitted, that in order to ensure career progression – for Grp.`A’ direct recruits – any recruitment of direct recruits beyond the number of 172 year shall be detrimental to the interest of these, and it shall cause stagnation in their cadre. Based on this calculation or assumption only, they have recommended the cadre of 720 (540 for DRs & 180 for promotees) in Junior scale. This has been thought that by this system there will be 180 vacancies for Grp.`A’ direct recruits and 180 for promotees. As per them, this shall ensure implementation of DOPTs instruction of quota in posts instead of vacancies as also restrict the number of vacancies to be filled by direct recruits. This in turn, will ensure satisfactory career progression for Grp.`A’ direct recruits.
No Consideration for Grp.`B’
While restricted recruitment shall ensure satisfactory career progression, it will result in acuate stagnation in the cadre of Grp.'B’ officers. It is totally clear from, all the talks, that all calculations made in this directions, have only one criteria in view i.e. adequate/satisfactory career prospects for direct recruits. What it will mean for and what affect this shall have on Grp.`B’, has no body’s baby and no consideration is given to that aspect. The Federation of Grp.`B’ officers, have submitted many times with calculated figures, that any reduction in the present number of 250 induction/years shall mean acute stagnation in their cadre of Grp.`B’ officers, but who is caring for all this?
Parameters of career progression
The number of 172 has been arrived at for ensuring that all the minimum eligibility periods fixed for various cadres/grades i.e. Sr.scale, JA grade, selection grade and even Sr.Admn. grade (5th year, 9th year 13th year and 17th year) are converted into definite promotional periods for Grp.`A’ direct recruits. That is what the concept of the adequate career progression for Grp.`A’ direct recruits is.
In actual terms, the IRPOF has no objections to this concept, and has never put any hindrance/obsteckles in achieving this objective at only stage. However the only submission of them has been that this should not be at the cost of career prospects of Grp.`B’ officers and secondly the same consideration be given to Grp.`B’ officers too. Alas, both of these are not to be for Grp.`B’ officers.
Impact of reduced intake of Gp.`B’ officers
The IRPOF has already submitted detailed study reports on the subject, which clearly bring out that if the number of inductions is reduced from 250 to 180 – as proposed – the length of service in Grp.`B’ before inductions is likely to be increased considerably i.e. from 11 yrs. 8 month (with 250 vacancies) to on average 14 yrs. 3 month (wit 181 vacancies) and in later years, in some cadres to 16-17 yrs. even.
Any measure taken to ensure reduced periods promotion for direct recruits at the cost of much increase in length of service for induction for Grp.`B’ officers, is not only unethical but frustrating also and indicative of step motherly treatment.
Most disturbing aspects
Most disturbing aspects about the presentation made by the management service directorate are that the effort put in by the administration in negating every thing, what ever has been said/demanded by IRPOF at any occasion, be it equal pay, or 80% posts in Jr.scale pay or transportation allowance, or avoidance of larger stagnation in the cadre, or improved promotional prospects. As if IRPOF is talking nonsense in all respects. Every thing said, has been said as wrong, by providing the facts in different ways. It has been said through this presentation that the situations in all respect has improved considerably over the years, and the administration is giving much more to Grp.`B’ officer than what is due to them otherwise. What can be for away from truth than this.
Solutions suggested by IRPOF
Same is the fate of all measures suggested by IRPOF for solutions. Be it introductions of LDCE scheme in Grp.`A’, or increasing percentage quota of Grp.`B’ from 50% to 75%, increasing number of inductions from Grp.`B’ to Grp.`A’ on one time basis, increasing the number of posts in JS cadre, bifurcation of total cadre from JS to SAG in the ratio of quota laid down, or intake from DRs and Promotees to be delinked, decreasing the periods for induction to Grp.`A’ or what not.
The stock reply in all the above has been not possible under the rules’, or not acceptable to DOPT/finance ministry and in many cases the thinking/arguments of IRPOF are not correct, and the actual facts are that the situation in all respects is much better than 1970/1980/1990, from which ever year it can be shown as such.
What is the fact?
What ever the presentation may say, but the following facts cannot be negated:-
(i) That the, number of CL-II (Grp.`B’) posts out of the total about 6000 posts in Assistant officer’s post was 1997 only as indicated by Adv. M.S. in 1990 - the balance 4000 being Grp.`A’ posts only.
(ii) That the number of Grp.`B’ officers working in Grp.`A’ is near by 10-11% of the total Grp.`A’ posts and about 18% of the total Grp.`A’ working.
(iii) That the share of Grp.`B’ in Grp.`A’ is much less than 50% of the quota laid down for Grp.`B’.
(iv) That the Grp.`B’ is experiencing extreme stagnation in all cases, whether promotion to Sr.scale (adhoc) – Av. 11-12yrs. – or induction to Grp.`A’ – Appox. 12 yrs. – where in the eligibility for both of these is periods are likely to be increased considerably if, as proposed, the number of Sr.scale posts are reduced (16-17 yrs.) or the number of vacancies/year for induction are decreased to 180/yrs. (from 250/yrs. now) (14-15 yrs.).
Attitude about other demands
Though, many issues were not accepted to be part of the presentation made by the Management Services i.e. equal pay for equal work, 80% posts to be in junior scale grade and transportation allowance etc. but still they have ventured in giving comments over these demands also. This is a measures of their attitude towards the grievances of Grp. ‘B’ officers that they have not given positive comments towards even these demands, though two of these i.e 80% posts and transportation allowance already been accepted and recommended by the Railway Ministry.
There are remarks against one time exception, recruitment in Grp. ‘B’ having vide fluctuations, number of Grp. ‘B’ officers reduced substantially, percentage of promotee quotas viz.-a- viz. total posts, length of service in Grp. ‘B’, recruitment in Grp. ‘A’, the weight age in seniority viz. a viz. other ministries and to reduce adhocism in senior scale etc. have also been commented in a way, which do not inspire any confidence in Grp. ‘B’ officers mind regarding the fair play, reasonableness and equal treatment etc. from the so called model employer i.e. Government of India. What purpose is being served for such facts, comments and expression of feelings etc. as these just do not help in creating right atmosphere rather it creates suspicion in the mind of member of the cadre. Suggestions given by the IRPOF to solve the present situation in respect with recruitment policies i.e. increase in promotee quota percentage, bifurcation of direct recruit quota with 25% from market and 25% from LDCE etc., delay in DPCs and promotion to Sr.scale for abolishing adhocism by inducting 1250 Grp. ‘B’ officers in 5 years have all been dealt with in a very inconsequential way and creates impression that the administration is not interested in solving the problems of Grp. ‘B’ officers in a reasonable way.
Increased period for promotion to Sr.Scale (Adhoc)
It is regretted that though it has been accepted that promotion to Sr.Scale adhoc (adhoc) was 3 to 9 years earlier and now it is 6 to 9 years but still it is said that the average of 6 years remain intact.
It is regretfully stated that the average of 3 to 9 years and 6 to 9 years can not be same. This is mathematical information and can not be denied by any one. Still the administration has dared to avoid the same by saying that average is same.
Fact is that, except few departments and that also on few railways, Grp. ‘B’ officers having senior scale adhoc in most of the departments and in most of the railways.
Increased period for induction to Grp. ‘A’
A statement given by IRPOF that the average period spent in Grp.’B’ for induction in Grp. ‘A’ has considerably been increased over last 10-15 years. It is a statistical fact which can not be questioned by any one but still Management Services Directorate has refuted even this fact and as per them, there has been improvement in all categories except Electrical and Mechanical departments. The fact is that this statstic have deteriorated over the year largely and the present day, over all average period to be spent in Grp. ‘B’ before induction to Grp. ‘A’ is likely to cross 12 years as compared to 10 years earlier. If the number of inductions are to be reduced as proposed from 250 to 180, this figure shall cross even 14 years mark. The denial of this fact can not be farther from truth.
Intake to be de-linked
The IRPOF has already submitted keeping in view all the issued at stake that no solution is possible unless the intake of Grp. ‘B’ & Grp. ‘A’ is de-linked. In reply to this, the Management Services says that the proposal of 3:1 ratio in the cadre fixation is meant for that purpose. Nobody can agree with this statement of theirs and in fact, by saying incorrect things time to time they just want to prove that administration is not interested in amicable solution of the things.
It has been stated that power to relax can not be used every time and therefore this shall be used very scarcely. Moreover, this can be maximum 1.5/1.6 times only and this shall not be every year for all departments.
Keeping in view all these conditions, they have come up with a proposal for 246 posts for the year 2001, 216 for 2002 and 201 for 2003.
The irony of the fact is that all these conditions are meant for keeping intact the satisfactory level of career progression for Grp. ‘A’ direct recruits and satisfactory means here that all their eligibility periods be converted into promotion periods. To ensure this, the factor 1.5/1.6 is being considered.
As per the proposals of the Management Services, the above mentioned number of vacancies will mean, according to the calculations that in every department, Grp. ‘B’ officers having 9 to 10years of services in Grp. ‘A’ are likely to be brought in to zone of consideration and that’s all. Bringing persons with 9 to 10 years service in the zone of consideration means the average length of service of all Grp. ‘B’ officers in Grp.’B’ for induction in Grp ‘A’ shall be definitely about 12 years if that is the career progression for to Grp ‘B’ officers then it is better not to claim that every consideration is being given to them.
Though, as in the case of all direct Grp. ‘A’ officers wherein their eligibility period are being converted into promotion periods if the Grp. ‘B’ also demands the same consideration for themselves then they are not asking the sky. However, the Grp. ‘B’ officers being practical just demand that keeping intact their weightage of 5 years if they are given Grp. ‘A’ after 8 years of service in Grp. ‘B’, it shall be reasonable. But perhaps the administration does not feel even this to be given to Grp.’B’ officers and therefore lot of statics and calculations have been brought forth to deny all this to Grp. ‘B’ officers. What is surprising is that even those departments where the zone of consideration is having 7 to 8 years service in Grp. ‘B’ are being brought to 9 to 10 years service as zone of consideration. What type of improvement in career progression, this can only be explained by the Management Services Directorate?
Power to relax
It is being said that power to relax can not be for every year, for every department, every time. Moreover, this can not be more that 1.5./1.6 times of the direct recruitment.
In view of the IRPOF, first of all, power to relax, term should not be used for the Grp.’B’ officers. In fact, keeping in view the career progression and other things of administration as well as time, the quota of Grp. ‘B’ officers should be fixed first and then using this power to relax, system should be used for reducing the number of intake of direct Grp. ‘A’ officers. This means that if it is decided in order to give satisfactory career progression 300 Grp. ‘B’ officers are to be inducted in Grp. ‘A’ then by using the above principle Government may take a decision that they would like to recruit only 150 or 160 Grp. ‘A’ officers every year. In our view, deduction in quota, especially, when the recruitment is according to the requirement of administration, can not be objected too by DOPT or any one.
Rejection in adhocisim in Senior scale
IRPOF has always been demanded for excessive adhocism in senior scale deteriorates considerably. The weak point was that to reduce this adhocism, intake of Grp. ‘B’ officers in Grp. ‘A’ should be increased considerably without affecting the chances of promotion of Grp.’A’ direct recruits adversely at least in SAG grade and above.
It is, however, surprising that the railway administration has found out a unique way of reducing adhocism in senior scale and i.e. by reducing the over all posts in senior scale. The proposals is to reduce about 1300 posts in senior scale. What is a novel idea is this? If you find pain in your leg, cut down the same. The administration is required to be appreciated for such a great proposal for reduction in adhocism.
It is heard that a number of senior scale posts are likely to be up-graded in JA grade and above. Up grading senior scale posts without matching up- gradation from senior scale to junior scale shall be totally damaging the cadre structure of the gazetted cadre on railways. For god sake, such proposals may not be accepted to spite the nose of Grp. ‘B’ officers only.
Conclusion : In the end, I would like to again mention very moderate and reasonable aspirations of Grp. ‘B’ in net shell as under:
i) Weightage of 5 years to continue and Grp.’B’ should be given induction in Grp. ‘A’ after 8 years of their service in Grp. ‘B’.
ii) For the induction in senior scale adhoc should positively be their after 8 years service in Grp. ‘B’ if not earlier.
It is requested that systems to ensure these be evolved with positive attitude at the earliest possible to avoid frustration among the members of Grp. ‘B’ cadre.
*Writer is former President of IRPOF and Retired SAG/IRSME Officer.