8 of 130 candidates in the running for the position of Railway GM in the IRMS cadre have been selected

The much-awaited posting order for the newly created Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS) cadre for general manager (GM) positions in Indian Railways has not been released. In the order issued late Monday, only eight officers were eligible for selection from a field of 130 candidates.

As a result of the Railways Ministry’s merit-based selection process that abolished seniority-based posting, 122 officers from various batches and services were not qualified for inclusion in the IRMS cadre for the Level 16 positions of General Managers (ex-cadre, Higher Administrative Grade-plus) and equivalents.

These positions are equivalent to Special Secretary to the Government of India.

The appointment of four officers in the running has been deferred by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on Monday. There is one civil servant in the group – an officer of the Indian Railway Traffic Service who serves as an additional member of the Railway Board. As for the other three, they are from a variety of engineering services.

Only eight officers from various engineering services of the railways were selected and subsequently posted as general managers of zonal railways and other units.

A maximum of eight organized Group-A services (Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Traffic, Accounts, Personnel, Signal, and Stores) were eligible to apply at Level 15 in batches 1983-86. Among these, Traffic, Accounts, and Personnel are officers who have passed the civil service examination, while the remaining services are officers who have passed the engineering service examination.

Among the officers from the 1985 batch who have qualified under the new merit-based system, only one officer has been selected, R N Sunker. Sunker, an officer in the engineering department, proposed massage services in trains to generate non-fare revenue in 2019 while he was the Divisional Railway Manager for Ratlam. The East Coast Railway has appointed him as General Manager.

There are seven other qualified officers from the 1986 batch. R N Singh, a member of the civil engineering department of the Railway Board, has qualified and has been appointed as General Manager of the Southern Railway. His previous position was that of Divisional Railway Manager in Delhi.

Three of the eight officers are mechanical engineers, two are civil engineers, and the remaining three are in the stores, signaling, and electrical services.

One of the reasons cited by the new mechanism for not qualifying many of the 122 officers is that the evaluation mechanism was unable to verify their “integrity.”

Prior to the posting, officers underwent a process of self-assessment, multi-source assessment (peers, seniors, etc), along with annual confidential reports from officers as part of the selection process for empanelment by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister.

A Departmental Promotion Committee of Railways, consisting of the Secretary DOP&T, the Chairman and CEO of the Railway Board, and one non-railway officer, assessed the officers for empanelment.

Earlier this year, the government instituted this new system to ensure a level playing field for all officers based on merit rather than on their age. Furthermore, as stated in the notification, the new system is intended to eliminate “departmentalism” in the railway industry.

Civil servants complain that the earlier age-based system did not consider merit in the railway sector. The applicants have also argued that over time the Civil Services Examination was unfair to them because of the two-stage intake process, coupled with the famed toughness of the exam. As a result, they were invariably ranked lower than their engineering counterparts. In other words, most of them had short residual service tenure to be considered for top positions three decades later.

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