My passing thoughts about another committee to improve railway!
I was fortunate to work with Shri Prakash Narain as CRB, when I used to be Secretary ,Central Board of Railway Research . Yes Madhav Rao Scindia was truly a different Minister, and even as mere young Joint Director , I was made comfortable for direct presentations to Minister in the presence of all Board members and DG RDSO. Well, on the spot orders MR gave for Rs 100 cr test track for High Speed testing and fatigue testing loops as presented by me ---imagine that was in those years! Even Restructuring RDSO report made by me was accepted and RDSO became a Scientific Institution with enhance powers for DG. Sri Prakash Narain took tremendous interest to listen to youngster like me and with MR like Scindia , it was truly a transforming period.
But Railway is not lucky. Mostly our own officers are scary to exercise powers! Fact is most of our officers want to have old cushy life with club privileges and hold staff responsible by making such rules of working.
Technology and research requires higher order of thinking and cannot be delegated to less qualified staff. But that is what the service officers do.
Be as it may, I feel railways never had the rare combination of good progressive Minister and excellent Board at the same time. Sri Prakash Narain and Madhav Rao Scindia was one such beautiful short lived period.
I personally believe we railways have the best system.Railway Board is truly highly empowered body The way we delegate powers to GM really makes GM to function practically independent in day to affairs. But at the same time real time information exchange between Board and the GMs optimises resources.
The staff are committed and can keep the system working even when communication links break down. Really we are the best organised. Nothing wrong in being proud of ourselves.
But without prejudice, we too must upgrade ourselves. Lack of persons like Sri Praksh Narain and Madhav Rao at helm do impact the technology upgradation.
What is a system without having high quality persons to man?
Attitudes, character and private agendas of political class , short sighted egoistic political bosses whose stupidity was taken advantage by highly placed bureaucrats too joining their ilk , brought our golden system in to current shameful mess, where every Tom, Dick and Harry selling soaps want to advise! Non merit based incentives & considerations other than performance for getting rewarded in work, but politically unavoidable bound to affect quality of output.No one wants to talk about it.But digitaisation transferring knowledge base and response practically independent of quality of lower level staff talents, can be a way out. I tried.
Mind you, I as MD of Konkan Railway enjoyed total freedom to create operating structure for Railway totally based on digital technology taking over control functions in real time and integrating entire gamut of railway working in to one seamless wide area networked knowledge embedded system Three levels of decision making got inbuilt. It is there working for last 15 years 24/7 , unique in the world. Praised internationally. But what prevents replication a totally indigenous proven technology entirely to railway codes and practices, developed by dedicated group of railway officers? The officers who worked under me later even retired as CRB or GMs etc. But so shy to admit that a tiny railway did what they did.
True I had to fight most of the time but it was worth the effort. Entropy of larger system must be taking its toll on KR too, over these years.
Improvements certainly can be done. The day extremely intelligent railway officers put nation first subjugating own ego , railway will see improvements by leaps and bounds.
If we decide , all tools are available. Only leaders are missing.
I really feel sorry for Sri Bibek Debroy, a very unenvious job.