In charts: How Indian Railways has cut the number of employees in the last decade

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  • Indian Railways has replaced only a small portion of retired employees in the last decade
  • The number of lower-level employees, Group D, has fallen more sharply than higher categories
  • Railways is a much sought-after employer in India where private jobs are scarce
The Narendra Modi government is being constantly criticised for the lack of jobs in a country that is touted as the world’s fastest growing economy. However, while policymakers are busy dismissing the data pointed out by critics, a sitting duck opportunity to silence--at least a quarter of a million people--is going to waste.

A Right-to-Information (RTI) query has shown that the Indian Railways had 2.66 lakh vacant jobs in Group C and Group D posts as of November 2018, according to a report. But the most recent recruitment drive by the government is looking to hire less than half of the existing vacancies.

Group C employees at the Indian railways hold posts that include senior section engineers, locomotive pilots, ticket booking clerks, train ticket examiners, station masters etc. Group D positions include that of helper, gangman, trackman, welder, fitter and porter among others.

Over the last 10 years, not only has the employee strength shrunk, but the reduction in lower level jobs has been jaw-dropping. While the total number of jobs at the Indian Railways went down 5% between 2008-09 and 2016-17, the number of Group D jobs were reduced to a sixth of their level nine years ago.

More alarmingly, even the number of replacements has been significantly less than the number of employees who retired each year in the last decade. If all the retired posts were filled up, at least 300,000 more people would have got jobs, according to news agency IANS.


Indian Railways is among the world’s largest employers. With lack of private opportunity for job seekers, the state-owned Railways has emerged as a much sought-after employer for millions of Indians. More than 25 million people applied for just 90,000 posts in March last, according to a Reuters report.

The fact is that both BJP and its rival Congress have been responsible for cutting jobs at the bottom of the Railways’ organisational pyramid. However, the pressure is always more on the incumbent government to improve the state of the economy and to create jobs.

Modi opponents have been strengthened by the lack of jobs in the Indian economy. To shut his rivals, the Indian prime minister has brought in reservations in government jobs for the poor, over and above the existing caste-based quotas for those in the margins of the Indian society.

While the politics took centre stage, the government has missed the available opportunities to serve both the poor and the socially oppressed sections of the society. Aside from the deep cuts in Group D jobs and the piling up vacancies in the railways, the central government departments including state-owned companies had 28,713 unfilled positions reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward castes as of January 2017, according to a report.

These numbers will be significant in determining voter sentiment going into the elections in May 2018.

(With Inputs from IANS)

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