By Elton Gomes
The Indian Railways will be conducting the world largest employment drive. The employment drive will see a total of 2.37 crore applicants competing for 1.27 lakh vacancies.
This will be the second time in the last two years that the railways will be conducting the employment drive. Vacancies range from Assistant Loco pilots, technicians to gangmen, and trackmen.
Ashwani Lohani, Chairman of the Railway Board said that the recruitment drive aims to fill the vacant posts in the safety category and for proper maintenance. “We need to fill up existing vacancies in the safety category posts. Our services have increased manifold, so has the pressure on the system for maintenance. This massive recruitment drive is crucial in that respect,” Lohani said, the Indian Express reported.
Which vacancies are available?
The vacancies for the current drive include Assistant Loco Pilots, Technicians, and various Group D posts under the 7th Pay Commission Level 1 Matrix. Posts of Gangman, Trackman, Gateman, Pointsman, and Helpers among others are included in Group D.
The current drive will have around 62,907 Group D posts. The exams began on September 16 in three shifts. The railways will conduct its recruitment drive across 400 exam centres throughout India. The exam will be conducted in 15 languages, with the last exam being held on October 16.
Owing to the Kerala floods and protests in West Bengal, several candidates missed their exams. The railways has thus decided to give these candidates another chance to appear in the exam. Such candidates will be able to appear for the exams after October 16.
Previous recruitment drives
The railways conducted its last recruitment drive in February 2017. The advertisement published at that time notified applicants of 18,252 vacancies. The railways received around 92 lakh applications, of which only 2.73 lakh candidates were allowed to attend the Railway Recruitment Board exam.
Railways faces cash crunch
Although the railways’ recruitment drive might set a world record, the national transporter will have to cut down on costs worth Rs 4,000 crore per year in staff costs alone – this will be apart from the Rs 800-odd crore cost of the recruitment process.
The Indian Railways is struggling to keep its Operating Ratio below 100 percent. Operating Ratio is money that is spent to earn every Rs 100, and hence a lower operating ratio is always preferred.
However, the railways ended 2017-18 at an operating ratio of 98.5 percent. To add to its problems, around 45,000 people retire every year, but not all are needed to be replaced.
Railways in desperate need of manpower
Railway officials say that some manpower needs are organic and inescapable. “Even if there are machines, we need people to operate those machines. We need more and more loco pilots to run trains as our services are increasing. Over time, vacancies had increased a lot. All this have a direct bearing on safety,” Railway Board member told the Indian Express.
For the Indian Railways, this is in a way going back on its philosophy of manpower management philosophy. After the implementation of the 5th Central Pay Commission, a Railway Board report to the government had proposed that, taking into consideration global trends in technology, the manpower-heavy Indian Railways should become a leaner organization to sufficiently manage its finances.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius