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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Path Breakers

Being a conformist is what conventional success is all about in the railways. Conforming to what, I have always wondered. Is it conformance to the grand spectacle of rank mediocrity on display at all levels, the higher one goes in the conventional sense, the bigger and deeper it is.  And if the answer is yes, being a misfit is the only acceptable alternative.

I often wonder whether people like me, and I realize there are many, are misfits? Or whether the system is a misfit for an organization that needs to rise for its own sake and the sake of the nation? Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, there are no clear answers as subjectivity rules the roost in all such matters.
Recently a top gun advised that keeping in view my age profile, I would complete 39 when I hang my boots, now is the time when I should take a cool job and work under a guy who is certain to give outstanding reports. However there is a catch. Turning cool right now shall ensure that I remain cool even when I occupy slots that really matter but generally serve only a ceremonial role. And in that scenario, the occupant would cease to have any relevance whatsoever to the organization and its cronies, except that he may hasten the demise. And that leads to another question, what the top slots are meant for? I bet there are no clear answers even with the occupants. Top slot just for being the top guy is the motive. 

Acceptance of the railway working in its present form is beyond me. With the operational issues being handled at supervisory levels that generally handle it much better provided   the officer clan does not interfere, we have miserably failed in performing our role that primarily constitutes imparting vision and direction and making things easier for the field levels. Yet what we remain busy in, defies logic and rationale. Perhaps our work study teams would make a much bigger contribution if they train their guns at the officer clan and start with the upper crust. 
Being misfit also implies feeling uncomfortable and angry in even witnessing sycophantic acts that are on display almost non-stop everywhere. Rampant disbursal of flowers and costly gifts to superiors in rank and their partners in tow, at every conceivable opportunity is sickening, yet the round of applause that accompanies such a spectacle makes the misfits have serious doubts about themselves. The foundation and inaugural stones for activities as insignificant as a new commode, that one bumps into at almost every corner are also an impeccable example of sycophantic behaviour. Yet the round of applause at the unveiling of such stones and the clamour for being mentioned on the stone itself, by almost everyone confuses. Is this the right thing to do, or the revulsion that many feel at such ceremonies is in order?

What however hurts the most is the rampant harassment of employees in the garb of disciplinary action for minor lapses. That the focus of an officer clan singularly responsible for the grand mess and also bringing the organization to near bankruptcy, should remain imposing punishments to its staff is definitely not in order.
The men ruining the organization, screwing the men running the organization.

During my stint at the division, I came across many youngsters who often felt suffocated by the mediocrity of superiors in rank.  Perhaps they may either break down with passage of time or join ranks with mediocrity. Yet how I wish that despite the road blocks and there would be plenty, they continue to be path breakers, for in path breakers lies the true salvation of the organization.


  1. sir,
    when you get a chance put all those foundation/inagural stones as cladding for some public utility. or we could make our own archive of shameful stones :) :) :)

    anyway this is a wonderful piece. thanks for writing and keeping us thinking.

  2. Sir, I am absolutely sure that you will never be able to fit in the sychophantic and laid back modus operandi prevalent in the top echleons of IR. Your sense of self worth is not dependant on the chair you occupy. This has liberated you and this will make sure that you will rise far above the rest of the crowd. Best of luck :) our wishes are with you.To quote a line from the film "3 idiots".... Continue to do what you are passionate about, Success jhak maar kar aapke peeche aayegee :)