Govt breaks 150-year tradition, gives nod to restructuring of Railway board

The Union Cabinet on Tuesday gave approval to restructuring of the Railway board through merger of its existing eight Group A services into a central service called the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS). The new board will have a leaner structure on functional lines headed by the chairman and four members — covering infrastructure, operations and business development, rolling stock, and finance.

In addition, the board will also include sectoral experts from industry, finance, economics, and management fields. Moving in corporate lines, the chairman will now be called as chief executive officer. The government is seeing this as a reform, breaking a 150-year-old tradition of ‘working in silos’ that can remove departmental tussles, seen as a roadblock in fast decision making.

“Unification of services will end ‘departmentalism’ and promote smooth working of Railways, expedite decision making, create a coherent vision for organisation and promote rational decision making,” Piyush Goyal, minister of railways, told the media. This is also considered as the removal of another colonial tradition, after the decision to merge the Railway Budget with the Union Budget in September 2016.

However, experts indicate that the merger of the services may not be a wise move, as compared to the Budget merger. “The concept by the government is to have one organisational goal, rather than having agendas set by departments. However, the Railways has a lot of specialised areas. For example, a mechanical or civil engineer cannot be in charge of finance department and vice versa. Hence, there may be technical difficulty for its implementation,” said V N Mathur, former member (traffic) of the Railway Board.

Based on the decision, the chairman will be the cadre controlling officer responsible for human resources (HR) with assistance from a director general (HR). In addition, the existing service of Indian Railway Medical Service (IRMS) will be consequently renamed as Indian Railway Health Service (IRHS).

The government has lined up a massive infrastructure development plan of ~50 trillion to modernise the national transporter in the next 12 years — improving safety, speed, and services. This requires speedy decision making by various departments. At present, the Railway services are organised into departments like traffic, civil, mechanical, electrical, signal and telecom, stores, personnel, and accounts.

These departments are vertically separated from top to bottom and are headed by a secretary-level officers called as members in the Railway Board. “There are pros and cons for this move, but I see more constraints for its implementation.

Unless there is a regulator, a finance person getting the charge of electrical maintenance may not be a very positive sign. There may be some functional departments,” said Vijay Dutt, former additional member of the Railways. In the past 25 years, various committees — Prakash Tandon Committee (1994), Rakesh Mohan Committee (2001), Sam Pitroda Committee (2012), and Bibek Debroy Committee (2015) — have been formed to recommend reforms.

The current restructuring will be a zero-cost exercise and money will be saved by surrendering posts in the board and stopping duplication of works. In addition, at the lower level, technical staff will become multitasker, that may promote skilling and improvement in services.

Creation of chief of defence staff

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Tuesday approved the creation of a chief of defence staff (CDS) who will be the single-point military adviser to the government as suggested by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999, officials said. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said a department of military affairs headed by the CDS would be created under the defence ministry.

The CDS will be a four-star general and his salary will be equivalent to that of service chiefs, the minister said. Officials said the CCS also approved the report of a high-level committee, headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, which finalised responsibilities and the enabling framework for the CDS, they said. In a landmark military reform, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 announced that India will have a CDS as head of the tri-services.

The government is likely to appoint the country's first CDS in the next few days. Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, due to retire from service on December 31, is believed to be a front-runner for the post. Officials said the CDS will be first among equals among service chiefs. However, in the list of protocol, the CDS will be higher than the service chiefs.

The main task of the CDS will be to ensure ‘jointmanship' among the three services. This will include powers to work on setting up few theatre commands as well as allocating military assets among the services to synergise their operations, they said.

At present, the three services coordinate their work under the framework of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), which will be subsumed into the new structure after appointment of the CDS. IBC amendment The Cabinet on Tuesday approved an ordinance to further amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), which will help remove certain ambiguities.

With the changes, there would be no liability on a corporate debtor for an offence committed prior to commencement of the insolvency resolution process, an official release said. Further, the corporate debtor would not be prosecuted for any such offence from the date of resolution plan being approved by the adjudicating authority.

(With PTI inputs)


In line with PM Modi’s vision of making Railways the growth engine of India’s Vikas Yatra, government approves the organisational restructuring of Railways. This transformational reform will end departmentalism and ensure efficient functioning #UnifiedRailways Piyush Goyal, Railway minister


To unify eight Group A services into Indian Railway Management Service Railway Board to be headed by chairman, who will be called chief executive officer


Chief of defence staff will be the single-point military adviser to the government Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, retiring on December 31, is believed to be a front-runner


There will be no liability on a corporate debtor for an offence committed prior to commencement of the IBC process A debtor won’t be prosecuted for any such offence from the date of resolution plan being approved.

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