Powered By Blogger

Popular Posts

Search This Blog

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mental blocks

The number of "full of hope" youngsters that I have encountered during my delhi stint gives me hope that all is not yet lost. A budding youngster told me today that the railways is like chetak of rana pratap that is just waiting for a hint from its master to gallop. Unfortunately while we have a lot of heads in the organization, the number of those who have the capability to lead can be easily counted on fingertips, with a lot of fingers to spare.

And it is indeed sad that many of us have lost hope, lost the will and the drive  to lead where we are  planted, while what is not lost is the yearning for someone else to take the cudgels on our behalf.

It is indeed a leadership crisis of the highest magnitude that the railways finds itself staring at. And the crisis is primarily of the bureaucratic kind, while the political class continues to take the flak.

And so we forever wait for change to happen, the systems to change and things to improve. This wait is however devoid of the realization that for the organization to prosper, we all have to convert ourselves into instruments of change wherever we are planted.

And my boys at the division did it, did it so easily and so well that it made my heart swell with pride. The boys have experienced and also proved that impossible does not exist and the limitations are mainly figments of the mind. Yes there are foolish limitations that we have imposed in the name of  "checks and balances", primarily out of a misplaced belief in the need to mistrust everyone under the sun. And if a man with a gut is able to show these foolish limitations the door, sky is the limit for this great organization, the greatness of which has been kept under check, unfortunately for a long period now.  


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Restructure Railways

Why is it that almost everyone who is a railway babu is unhappy with life in general and official life in particular? Why this organization that once used to be referred to after prefixing a "great" to its name finds itself in a state of utter despair? Why is it that this despair or helplessness is amply visible even in the senior  echelons of the organization, who despite finding themselves utterly helpless, merrily cling to the chair in the hope of self gratification of the materialistic kind?

Why is it that the senior management who should generally find solace in leading the organization, to its glory or its doom searches for self actualization in ridiculing its subordinates or in materialistic gains of the of pettiest kind? Why is it that none of us, and I am yet to find one cutting across departments who looks up with pride and expectancy towards those who are expected to lead the organization?

My visit sometime back to a railway area shocked me. While a high moral ground was certainly not expected, the conduct of the masters was definitely bizarre. Vying for attention, humiliating subordinates in public view, seeking gifts and blatant indulgence in acts of petty impropriety was on full  display but what really hit one hard was the indulgent acceptance of all this as their fate by the inhabitants of the township.

There is a crying need to restructure the railways and build it and then run it along professional lines. There is a dying necessity to inject or create "railway officers" as the present system of running the organization by departmental officers on petty departmental lines has utterly failed. And there is a need to do the same before a total collapse occurs.There is a pressing need to bring in a radical change in our training systems by focusing on leadership and not merely on mundane technical matters. .

There is a need to focus on land and HR and not merely on one minute punctuality and punishments to staff in accident cases. There is a need to build pride in our men, but pride cannot be built by blatant acts of self aggrandizement by the upper crust, that we are witness to, day in and day out.

Railways and railwaymen are indeed great, else how can one explain the tremendous spectacle of over ten thousand trains criss-crossing this great nation day in and day out, despite the self goal being indulged in by the senior officers of the nine services, routinely and regularly. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dreaded Symptoms!

Sometime back I wrote about the tendency of the railway officials to invariably jump on symptoms, without any concern whatsoever about the disease that may have caused the same. Today's accident near Anantpur once again had my mind rattled on the issue. When shall we ever learn?

Learn what? That in an HR dominant organization like the railways human mistakes are bound to happen and the environment of fear that the railway babu's have created is only hastening the impending disaster. My mind has quickly travelled to the site of the acccident and I  can easily visualize the scenario there. With almost everyone who considers himself a somebody on the railways, and there is a fleet of them, trying to use his phone to find out details of what happened, not for remedying matters but to rattle out the details to his superiors when asked for, the men manning the field would be having a very tough time. All those somebody's would be trying to browbeat the others in seeking the head of the delinquent staff and offficers who would have committed the heinous mistakes leading to the accident. The ground truth and also the reason behind the staff committing mistakes while on duty would be lost in the chorous claiming the head.

Everyone out to impress the boss and in the race to bag the coveted "sycophants trophy" even at such moments when the organization and its mandarins should be seeking and facing the truth, is indeed sickening. The race also to be the first one to tell the bosses about what happened and commiserating with him on the perceived demise of commitment in the field staff is also a trait amply visible in the officers, who are regarded as rising stars in the organization, even at moments of disaster.

When shall we ever realize that almost all the so called ills of the system are no more than mere symptoms of various deep rooted malaise shrouding the officialdom. The core of the disease lies in the inability of the management, the upper crust to be more precise, to provide the right kind of leadership to the organization. Even a casual study of the bureaucratic practices of the railways would reveal the obvious, that we have adopted a conflicting variance with all that is written down in management books and case studies of repute. Moreover any organization, the upper crust of which consider ridiculing and pulling down their men as the solution to its ills is living in a fool's paradise and therein lies the tragedy of this great organization.

A rudderless organization, not led by, but headed by officials at various levels who have no vision or direction to convey to their team, but whose focus always remains fault finding and rendering unsolicited advice on all matters under the sun. "Dispense advice when asked for support" has emerged as our gurumantra. An organization based on mistrust is what we are rearing and therefore the regular recurrence of all those symptoms that jolt us out of our blissful sleep. A jolt that damages the organization more than it helps the situation.

May God help  us!     

Monday, May 21, 2012

Inaction Kills!

Inaction kills.

Almost six years of continuous batting on the field, first on the unknown but smooth turf of Bhopal followed by the familiar but undulating turf of Delhi has me thirsting for more. But I am temporarily rested, not to recoup as a matter of design, but more as a matter of policy of the top brass of the railways to clip the wings of whomsoever they perceive as a high flier and maybe a threat to their own mediocre existence.

The two innings separated played on turfs separated by almost eight hundred kilometres had some amazing similarities and some not so amazing differences. What was similar was the level of challenge, the pathetic condition of the terrain handed over to me and the integrity, commitment and capability of my boys. What was different was the complexity of processes, the level of empowerment and trust and the support of the top brass with the delhi turf taking the cake in so far as negativity is concerned. The powers that mattered at Bhopal left no stone unturned in ensuring my success, for the sake of the state of course while the support structure at delhi was virtually non existent with the top brass making its presence felt generally only for finding faults or giving unsolicited advice. Yet, my boys played exceedingly well and what a success it was, even on the delhi turf!

And this further reinforces my belief in the superiority of the people who man the apex levels in the golden service of the nation and those in the railways who man the functional levels, levels that are responsible for keeping the wheels moving.

Why we refuse to accept the ground reality, the truth, knowing fully well that a make believe world cannot be sustained for long. The reality and the basic truth has to be faced some day and therefore why not now? Why is it that the powers that be, refuse to grant basic dignity to all those subservient to them, and would only like to hear the voice of a mediocre or that of a sycophant? Any version other than theirs is normally considered high treason. We have to appreciate that the ivory tower approach suited the british who ruled over subjects of a slave nation, but has no place in a free nation. Perhaps this behaviour is what mediocrity is all about.

It is not physical activity that tires a person, it is physical and mental inactivity that really tires one down. This realization comes only after one is rested after a gruelling long drawn out match.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Delhi Division way!

My innings at Delhi got over yesterday and I am once again back at the stands awaiting the call of the captain. It is for the captain to decide my next role, whether that is of a batsman, bowler, fielder, standby or a spectator. Whatever be the role, the salary remains guaranteed and therein lies the solace.

The last two days have been memorable. Yet the only thing that needs to be taken care of is that the love and adulation of my men, that was on blatant display in abundance should not go to my head. I have to remain grounded, indeed firmly wedded to the ground.

The roller coaster called Delhi division has indeed left its indelible impression on me.  That despite what the majority of us say and feel, it is yet good to be good and bad to be bad and that is the only thing that really matters. That even in the heartless city of Delhi, the emotions have the capability to flow as freely as in the “back of the beyond” place called Patratu, where I spent some time during my heydays, is a thought that got embedded in the core of my heart. Yes, the basic human being is the same everywhere, with love and respect for goodness and human values and that made my eyes tearful  at the thought that I would be for sometime missing the goodness of the entire team of my officers and staff.  

I am reminded of the moment of my departure from Bhopal, the tremendous outpouring of love and affection, even on the streets of the city, of the excrutiating pain of separation from all those who gave me love, affection and success. I am reminded of ITDC, Patratu, DLW, the rail museum, even ICF and all those other places whose men gave me the meaning of life itself. That the true meaning of power is the ability to be able to do something for the masses is a thought that is slowly getting ingrained deep in my psyche for my own betterment perhaps replacing the deep rooted feelings of ego and self aggrandizement.

Prior to landing on the hot seat of Delhi, I could not have earlier imagined the brilliance and commitment of the entire team of my officers. I also could not have earlier visualized the tremendous commitment of the unions towards welfare of the men, besides miserably failing in assessing the deep love and affection of my men towards me. And that gives me a new line of thought – that despite the penchant of the officer clan for wielding power and exploiting the system for self aggrandizement, the men, the railway men remain the true soldiers the organization has. It is indeed hard not to fall in love with the men in the field, the people who keep the wheels moving. It is harder still to hold them accountable for the ills of the system despite knowing fully well that the nonchalance of the bureaucrats is responsible for the staid state of affairs.

Yes, the Delhi team has infused in me a fresh bout of hope, hope that all is not yet lost and that it is still possible to rise from the ashes and restore the glory of the great Indian railways.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The more the merrier

Railways swears by this slogan. Otherwise how can one justify the ever growing fleet of officers with hardly any substantive work. Railway Board is full of officers, almost as many as the rest of the federal ministries put together and the redundant bodies, the zonal headquarters almost bursting at their seams with officers of all levels. The fat is easily visible at disaster sites that bubble with over a dozen officers above the levels of joint secretary who have no role except being present and rendering unsolicited advice to the guys that work.

Supervision of almost everyone has become the motto of the railways, an organization that has given the word “trust” a go by. There is absolutely no trust anywhere in the system and the higher the bloke in the hierarchy, the more prone he is to pass unsubstantiated value judgements on any issue under the sun.

With hardly any substantive charge to effect positive output, the only way the railway blokes can have any sense of importance is by exercising negative powers. And therefore while the system hardly has anyone who can deliver, it has layers and layers of officialdom who by a stroke of their pen can stop things from happening. Negativity therefore flows freely in the system and positivity is almost dead.

With hardly being able to contribute positively to the system, the focus of the officialdom has shifted to seeking items of self gratification at the cost of the organization and by browbeating the juniors. Putrid it is to witness senior blokes committing impropriety, and impropriety it is without doubt.

What has the railways come to? Perhaps the only solace lies in the realization that we are getting what the majority of us deserve.

Moving slowly to disaster is the best way to describe the situation.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hope Lives!

The ascension of Parsuram to the apex as the Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh has come as a sanjivani for many of us who have lost hope in the system. It is indeed a matter of immense satisfaction that the system that has a matter of routine started throwing up sycophants and nincompoops for top level assignments also at times recognizes the jewels that would otherwise have remained hidden in the omnipresent heap of coal.

Parsuram Ji has been one of my rare bosses who never bossed over but always remained a great friend, a tremendous well wisher and an unmatched guide. He is also one of those rare bureaucrats who have a heart of gold and a spine of steel. Perhaps his name that was also the name of one of the greatest sage of all times, has had an effect on his entire persona that now resembles more a polished diamond than anything else. 

Shivraj Ji  and Parsuram Ji would make a tremendous combination, a combination that is bound to put the state on the highway to progress. A progress based on and inspired by a very strong value system that both these frontliners share, is going to be an everlasting one.

That both the political and bureaucratic masters are going to leave their footprints on the sands of time is also a foregone conclusion, yet what really matters is that both of them are instrumental in rekindling hope in an otherwise hopeless scenario.

If only someone like Parsuram ji occupied the apex slot in railways, railways is bound to rebound.