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Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Caught with the pants down!
The great Indian Railways stands exposed. Managed by puny guys, one of whom has been caught with his pants down with a few more in the pipeline, this great organization that witnessed minimal contribution from its mandarins in the last few decades is indeed tottering. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, a great organization brought to its knees by its constituents is indeed a sad story.
It is a cultural malaise, a culture where a senior guy does not appreciate a junior bloke standing erect, a culture of supple spines, free lunches, self gratification, sycophancy and feudalism. Indeed, railways is very much out of place in the corporate environment of the twenty first century. A corporate sans sprinkling of a corporate culture.
Mahesh also must have been a budding youngster perhaps full of idealism and commitment when he would have joined the railways as a probationary officer. Like almost everyone else he also would have learnt to enjoy power and the perks that go with the job, steadily increasing as one climbs up the ladder. Trained in a staff college that does not regard instilling value systems or leadership traits in youngsters, as worthy of consideration, Mahesh would have grown up in the system that admires and places on pedestals sycophant pygmies. He also would have realized fairly early that for a price paid in cash or sycophantic behavior, many of the important postings are negotiable. And therefore the dubious deal! While Mahesh deserves a couple of years behind bars, yet the major part of the blame should be apportioned to the rotten system that has percolated the nooks and corners of this organization that once had a great affixed to its name.
As the head honcho of the Delhi division I had ringside seats in so far as witnessing the conduct of the apex levels of the railways. And the view was disturbing to say the least. While the top guys never displayed leadership qualities, always had a supple spine and lambasted subordinates at the slightest opportunity, they invariably laid prostate at the feet of their bureaucratic and political masters. Many of the lot also never lost an opportunity to take advantage of their position almost always, even in the matter of whacking the curtains that are allotted to their official bungalow, at the time of their retirement. Whacking of curtains and adjusting the entire electricity consumption of their house as official are minor examples of unethical practices, yet lays bare the conduct of officials in high places.
Large scale structural reforms are perhaps the only route to redeeming the greatness of the railways. The Mahesh Kumar episode is signalling a turning point provided the gravy train is able to negotiate the turnout it is faced with.
In God we trust, Insha allah!