Revising the most important facets of reforms proposed by the Bibek Debroy committee & highlighting the pain points of Indian railways –
#1. The process of accounting in Indian Railways is “very complicated”. “It is impossible to figure out what the rate of return on a project is”
The financial statements of Indian Railways need to be re-drawn, consistent with principles and norms nationally and internationally accepted.
#2. Streamline recruitment & HR processes
Remove the multiplicity of channels of recruitment and consolidate the process. At present there are 8 organized Group ‘A’ services in Indian Railways. Deployment to these services is by direct recruitment from UPSC (Civil Service and the Engineering examinations) and also by promotion of Group ‘B’ officers of the department.
The eight services can be broadly categorized in two bigger groupings viz. technical and non-technical services.
#3. Indian Railways should focus on core activities to efficiently compete with the private sector
It should distance itself from non-core activities, such as running a police force, schools, hospitals and production and construction units.
#4. Deploy an independent regulator
Shift regulatory responsibility from the government to an independent regulator as the private sector will only come in if there is fair and open access to infrastructure.
The report recommends setting up a Railway Regulatory Authority of India (RRAI) statutorily, with an independent budget, so that it is truly independent of the Ministry of Railways.
#5. Merge Railway budget with Central government budget
“End gross budgetary support, end this system of paying dividends and therefore you effectively end the railway budget. You not only end the railway budget, you eventually also end the Ministry of Railways and integrate it into a Ministry of Transport.”
Now that’s quite ambitious!
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