Sunday, 2 July 2017

Engineering Services- The glass is half full.....

There is lot of materials now available in internet about different Engineering Services allotted through UPSC. This is made possible by Seniors and colleagues who took pain in writing about their opinion about the services without fear of backlash or adverse effects. I personally thank them for giving their frank opinions which definitely gave a big picture to all aspirants and future IES officers.
            In every service there is lot of positives and negatives. My good friend once told me a story of his professor. The professor took a note book and draws a tiny dot in earlier white, unblemished page. He tears the paper and asks what is it? It a dot, came the reply. Professor explains when you are focussing on dot, you are forgetting the paper on which it exists.
            I don’t wish to explain advantages and disadvantages of various services. It’s out there already. I just want to reduce the anxiety experienced by many aspirants who are sometimes are only seeing the dot and missing the white paper. During my time, very few wrote about the different Engineering services. These officers made it a point to cite pros and cons of department. I am thankful to them. They made filling DAF easier. However of late, there is increasing bad lighting of all Engineering services by young officers. I wish to address this issue.
            There is two worry issues of Engineering services that aspirants find-
1. The comparisons of departments in the Engineering service (like IRSE, CES, CES (Roads) etc)
2. The comparison of IES with IAS.

Dynamic nature of Engineering Services- Engineering is one of the most dynamic services. It easy to quantify the achievements of Engineering services unlike Scientific services or Social services or Economic services.
This dynamic nature of service adds variability to the equation. For example, in civil engineering, there was great demand for surveyors and engineers who could manage them. This was the era of Great trigonometric survey (GTS). Those people did a great job with very high accuracy which is achieved with modern instruments today. Now it is a saturated department in State as well as Central. Similar was water resource department. There were great engineers who built irrigation canals, sanitary pipelines, dams etc. For now, its importance has reduced relatively. CPWD was great traditional department which is now facing completion from other construction PSUs. They were great engineers who built and designed majestic Buildings. Apart from the Public Works it was required to carry out the construction works of Archaeological, Posts and Telegraphs and Indian National Airways and other such Organisations as ‘Depot Works’. You will still find buildings with name of executive engineer on these buildings. However, many of the earlier functions have been bifurcated.
Now a day focus is on infrastructure of India. The department of railways and roads are on rise with mega projects. Like all other departments, this may also face the nature’s slump.

This dynamic nature of engineering department is true for private and government departments. When a young engineer gets appointment to Engineering service, this important thing should be in mind. In services, he serves for 30-35 years. This is a very long time and you will never know what is in store for you. Some department relevant now may become redundant and some redundant one may become most relevant. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done in this matter. A brief history of MoRTH (Ministry of Road transport and highways) from wiki will shed light on this-

Changes made over years (Source: Wikipedia)
 ·        1942 : The Department of War Transport was formed in July, by the bifurcation of the then Department Of Communications into two Departments:
 (i) Department of Posts
(ii) Department of War Transport.
·   1957: Department of War Transport was renamed as Ministry of Transport & Communications and Department of transport was placed under it.
·    1966: Department of Transport, Shipping & Tourism was placed under Ministry of Transport and Aviation.
·         1967: the Ministry of Transport and Aviation was bifurcated into Ministry of Shipping and Transport and the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.
·         1985: Ministry of Transport and Shipping became the Department of Surface Transport under the Ministry of Transport.
·         1986: the Department of Surface Transport under Ministry of Transport was renamed as Ministry of Surface Transport .
·       1999: Ministry of Surface Transport was subsequently re-organized into departments, namely Department of Shipping and Department of Road Transport and Highways.
·      2000: the Ministry of Surface Transport was bifurcated into two Ministries namely Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Ministry of Shipping.
·         2004: Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Road Transport has again been merged and renamed as Ministry of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways

As you can see, all services under Engineering services are evolving. The choice of engineering service is important during filling of DAF and must be cautiously done. After allocation and then being sad over the decision is not good. Thinking too much about future in initial years will take focus away from work that is required to be done. Like all government services, Engineering services is a way to serve public. We should be grateful that an opportunity to serve is given and make most of it.
So what is the solution if you don’t get your desired department and expected facilities?    The fact that all the material in internet about engineering services is written by young officers like me who may not have fully explored the department should be a relief. Each department however worse it may be comes with certain unique positive attributes. For example, IRSE have lot of authority, CPWD have diverse work, CES (Roads) have easier life style and lot of relevance now, IDSE/MES/BRO/ IOFS for those who love military life, SIS/IIS for those who like being different, CWES for those who have yearn for nations water resources. Focussing on positive attributes and keeping in mind that whatever you do, it will affect the country directly or indirectly will keep away any self doubts.

The other solution to the above problem is to have low or no expectations about facilities. Don’t have any expectation that department will give any benefit at all. No car, no bungalow, no servants. Think that even tea you drink have to paid by you. Imagining this and coming to service, you will focus more on your duty and enjoy bonus benefits specific to different services.
There are tons of deputation prospects available to officers which may not be foreseen in near future. A redundant department will allow more of such deputations. In government service, there is interesting work, there is frustrating work but no work done is unimportant. Even drafting a letter or collecting data over phone for the policy makers to make decision is important even though this may not be ideal work you might be seeking. Comparing other departments work and brooding over is nothing but proverbial grass is green on other side.

            The Comparison of IES with IAS- This is heart ache that most IES officers face in. They see young officer becoming a boss over them. This is true for even other civil services like IRS and IPS. Let me quote the material of 7th CPC report which one of my colleague showed to me and is reproduced below-

Average year of promotional prospects for even for Civil services other IAS/IFS is far higher than the engineering service. For those who don’t know what is SAG and HAG, it is Joint secretary/Chief engineer level and HAG is Additional secretary/Additional director general level. The above table will tell that most of civil service have better promotional prospects than engineering service. Defence service and engineering service are a bit slow moving in promotional prospects.

What is definitely not told that there is something called cadre review which reviews these promotion prospects and improves them. The above table won’t even be recognizable in 20 years or so. Some service will fare better and some will get worse. There is nothing that can be done about it in initial years. A person genuinely interested in engineering should let his interest prevail rather than these figures above. This is because you will not know what is in store for you and you may fare better than you think now.

            The purpose of writing this post is because of general observation that new officers who are genuinely interested in engineering services, being bothered by these departmental shortcomings and slow moving promotional prospects. They make half hearted efforts in switching over to other services whose working field they are not even interested. This is a great tragedy and loss to country. Even before coming to Engineering services, they are bogged down by despair. They true performance is affected as they are pulled back by these shackles. I hope this post will give the confidence to future aspirants.
They are told about shortcomings of department but not about the reforms and changes that will improve the situation. They are not told about the dynamic nature of engineering departments. They are not told that glass is half full. This service like other services has its own charm and place in government mechanism. Don’t let others say otherwise.

P.S. thank you Ganesh for the title of this post. As always, this is my personal view and will not be used for any legal or other matter. I shall not be liable for any damages arising out of use of the material.

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