Public Sector Companies (PSUs) in India have been symbols of inefficiency and corruption. Most of these companies remained unprofitable and essentially a burden on the common taxpayer of India. After the country became independent, government of India adopted the policy of ‘import substitution’ and diverted most of the resources in ‘critical industries’. Public sector companies were created in all major sectors and existing private companies were nationalized. The adopted policy led to what western economists wrongly dub as the ‘Hindu rate of growth’. However, post liberalization, it became clear that problem was not with the culture but right at the policy level. The public sector companies on the line of Communist states were inefficient and were responsible for sluggish growth, lack of accountability and an absolute absence of transparency.
The work-culture in public sector companies has been leisurely and often casual. Employees got timely appraisals without so much as making an effort for it. And there was rampant corruption too at all levels. Employees were not under any obligation to work because government jobs came with an assurance of employment till working age and pensions after it and to top it all, the promotions were a given. You spend a certain number of years in a rank and then get promoted to the next automatically. And then came the Modi government in 2014 and things started to change.
Modi government went on to change the ‘Babu culture’ and tried to bring accountability and transparency in the system. Therefore, the concept of ‘lateral entry’ of professionals was introduced for bureaucracy. There is a fundamental change in the working model of ministries too.
The Railway Ministry led by Piyush Goyal is at the forefront of bringing ‘corporate work ethics’ in government jobs.
Now, officials in Railway ministry could be demoted or denied promotion if s/he does not perform. Their promotions can also be denied/delayed if they do not comply with orders postings in rural areas. “If an officer does not comply with his/her transfer-cum-promotion within the stipulated period, it may be treated to be a refusal for promotion and may render the officer liable for debarment from such promotion for a minimum period of one year,” said the railway board. Piyush Goyal has had a long tenure as corporate executive and he was opposed to the lackadaisical and what is infamous as the ‘bureaucratic attitude’ of the railway employees. Therefore, ‘perform or perish’ mantra was adopted for the railway employees. The ministry also introduced productivity linked bonus (PLB) for non-gazetted employees to send the clear message that performance and performance alone will decide promotions or bonus.
The introduction of ‘corporate work ethics’ has made railways significantly efficient. Railways achieved all time high safety records within one year of Piyush Goyal at the helm of affairs. All the unmanned crossings were removed in less than a year. To make railways efficient and environment friendly, the ministry also achieved 100 percent electrification of broad-gauge lines. Fines levied on ticketless travelers who used to bribe TTEs earlier and escape, added a lot of revenues to government coffers. The introduction of ‘corporate work ethics’ will make the government and public sector companies more efficient. This is the face of new India which is rule based meritocracy driven economy. And one must thank Piyush Goyal for the change.
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