In the eyes of the general public, underperforming government officials aren’t held to the same standards as people working in the private sector, thus affecting efficiency. Below-par performance does not result in lower salaries, deferred promotions or even termination from government service.
Nowhere is this issue more keenly felt than the Indian Railways, the lifeline for millions of Indians who travel for work, medical treatment, holidays and writing important public exams.
For example, delays in train services stretching over many hours or even days have become the norm. Responding to these complaints, the Union Railway Ministry has warned the heads (General Managers) of various railway zones that such delays will cost them their promotions.
Giving them a month to step up their performance, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal told the various zonal heads that they cannot delay train services under the garb of maintenance work.
“While the minister has taken a lot of flak for delays, he knew it was a price he had to pay for the large-scale renewal of tracks. However, the punctuality figures are way worse than what we had expected. Clearly, the zones are using maintenance work as an excuse to hide their inefficiency,” a senior railways official told the Press Trust of India.
In the last fiscal year, 30% of trains ran late with little to no change in these figures even during the current holiday season. Northern Railways reportedly showed the worst figures with an abysmal punctuality performance of 49.59% this summer, a drop of 32.74% from the same period last year, reported PTI.
The Northern Railways was followed by Northeast Frontier Railway and the Eastern Railway, which recorded a 27% and 26% dip in punctuality respectively. According to PTI, Piyush Goyal blamed railway officials for misusing or misallocating resources for the incessant train delays.
“He has now made it clear that by June 30, if he doesn’t see any improvement, the respective GMs (general managers) will not be considered for promotion. He also said that their performance ratings will depend on where they figure on the delay list. The lower they are, the worse it will be for them,” an official privy to the meetings that Goyal had with Railway officials told PTI.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)