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They came, they sat and did they conquer?
The creamy layer of IRAS was in Goa for three days to deliberate on their future or the lack of it. The official proceedings are elsewhere and this is the inside dope on many events that happened there and related events that happened outside.
It is reliably learnt that the Delhi Railway Accounts Service officers are up in arms against AMF for suggesting that they look like crooks. They wanted to meet and pass a resolution. But since AMF's expression was about Delhiwalas and did not cover the Delhiwalis, who constitute 90%, the attempts fizzled out. In a separate incident, Ranjanesh was consulting his friends about requesting AMF to retract his statement that he (Ranjanesh) resembles a crook. All his friends advised him that no action can be taken against a person who speaks the truth.
All officers wanted Subramayam to be suitably punished for the blasphemous statement that CFO should be from other departments. The suggestions ranged from sending him to Bihar or Pakistan or even arresting him under POTA. Finally it was decided that since he wants to go to the South, he would be sent to Satyamangalam as an emissary to Veerappan. His orders will be issued as soon as he grows a moustache.
A lot of officers are worried about the immediate future of IRAS, which appears to lack in spirits at the top. A lot of people are learning how to make Mulligatawney so they can say 'cheers' with it till 2005. A reading of IRAS horoscope suggests that thankfully sparkling wines will gain the flavour thereafter. But whisky-drinkers may have to wait for quite some years.
As soon as FC stated that IRAS officers have to continue tightrope walking, a proposal for training them by a trapeze artists from China has been mooted. A team from the Accounts Directorate of the Board will visit China shortly. The artists will be available for the next retreat, where all the afternoons will be devoted for this training.
It is learnt that Eastern Railway, which is already reeling from the bifurcation whammy, was shocked at being excluded from the Retreat. The officers there were contemplating a number of steps including meeting the previous MR. Thankfully timely action was taken by FC. It is also understood that the officers in the Board responsible for this 'faux pas' are being transferred to Kolkata as OSDs to the previous MR.
There was an animated discussion on whether we need to keep our customers happy. Preeti argued that Accounts officers do not have any customers. She also argued that since executives only give 'kasht' to us, we can call them our 'kashtomers'. After discussions, it was resolved that the Mission statement of Accounts Department would read as-
"All officers other than Accounts will be known to us as 'kashtomers' and we will do our best to give maximum unhappiness to the maximum number."
Maya's suggestion that this should be given wide publicity within the Accounts Department was also agreed to.
It is learnt that Remo Fernandez, who was in Calangute Beach on Monday afternoon, started singing Humma, Humma loudly on seeing Chetna, taking her to be a Goan. But when he saw that she was accompanied by a number of 'healthy' persons in colourful T-shirts, the song became a mere hum.
It is learnt that Maya is writing a book 'Jacuzzi for Dummies' which will be very useful to persons like this author who were under the impression that jacuzzi was an italian cousin of jalebi. The book will be released before the next retreat. The husband of a senior officer is being persuaded to write a similar book on 'Using poolside bar'.
Talking of the poolside, the Retreat participants were pleasantly (and unpleasantly as well) surprised to be treated to a pool side evening where the 'spirits' were high. The regular band of the hotel was soon replaced by the 'budding and budding and budding' Kalakars of IRAS and their family. It is official now. IPS may be better than IRAS in singing well before their political masters, but are no match to IRAS when it comes to singing before a live audience.
What do you do if your Hindi is weak? Follow Bala Ganesh who had to say 'cheese' all through the Retreat. His smile was very much in place that evening when one of the Kalakars of the evening was briefing the house on the nuances of Rajasthan/UP culture in chaste Hindi and Bala didn't understand a word. With his hospitality ethos raised to its peak with the right spirits he couldn't restrain saying "Wah Taaj Boliye" having understood the Zakir Hussain commercial as a way to praise music.
A number of names have been suggested by Parthasarathy and Murthy for the proposed Centralised Training Institute for Accounts. A few more have been suggested by some officers of the Engineering branch. These are-
Association to Learn Quick & Efficient Disposal in Accounts
Society for Accounting Development and Delicate Accounts Management
The Accounts Learning Institute for Best And New
A committee has been constituted to finalise the most suitable name.
A lot of speakers were unhappy that our Codes and Manuals are unintelligible and obtuse. After discussions, the following Resolution was passed.
"Code-revision should be immediately undertaken by one or more individuals or Railways, who will be given written and explicit approval of the Board to take up this work and ensure that ambiguous, confusing and long words that have been in the past and are at present used in our Codes are totally avoided subject to the proviso that such Codes prepared by the Committee constituted for the purpose are cleared at all levels of the Railways and C&AG or his representative."
Many young officers felt that the training at NIFM should be 'Ek Chotisi Love/Hate Story' and that a week was the ideal duration for the NIFM training. After a long discussion, it was decided to keep the period of training in NIFM to two weeks.The money thus saved will be used for exclusive Retreats to probationers.
There was clapping by the younger officers when AMF announced that designations will be revised before 31st October. Later they met and decided that since IT is being introduced in a massive manner, the following designations should be recommended.
JAO - Minor Oracle (MiO)
SAO - Major Oracle (MjO)
Since they sound impressive enough, Dy. FA&CAO and FA&CAO will continue with the same designation except that 'Officer' will be replaced by 'Oracle'.
Talking of younger officers, it is understood from Alok that the hits to the IRAS site by them has increased by 200%. The reason is that many believe that the officers were nominated to the Retreat by FC based on their contribution to the IRAS site. Alok is asking for money for a more powerful server. Will all IRAS officers fork out the money?
Questions, questions. Sudhir found himself at his wits' end when asked by a spice (one of the spouses, you idiot) whether he was from Mathura. He was also at a loss to answer when asked whether Mathur girls are the most beautiful (Incidentally, his wife is not a Mathur and their marriage was one from the heart).
In an important Resolution, the IRAS Retreat has declared expenditure as the most contagious form of virus to attack the Indian Railways for the fifty-third consecutive year. Expenditure is the Railway activity that can propagate even by just seeing or mentioning it. This year, expenditure, irrespective of a serious Budget, cash crunch, Rakesh Mohan and world-wide business collapses continued to spread unabated. Expenditure infection far exceeded terrorism, selfishness, sabotage, casteism and racism as a virus to retain its top spot this year also. It was therefore futile for the IRAS Retreat to suggest ways for improving Accounting. However they went ahead and a large number of Railway engineers have immediately stated that the avowed Railway policy that "Spending is an end in itself and is far better than practicing control or accounting for the money" cannot and should not be changed. It is also understood that a paper for consideration by the Board to continue this policy is under preparation. When some young hotheads in IRAS trained at NIFM got wild and insisted that the money is to be on debit side or credit side for it to make sense, a very senior IRSE officer coolly reminded them that money has to be there to spend to make sense and hence no accounting (or for that matter Accounts Officer) is necessary. Later he relented and said that since Accounts officers also contribute to expenditure, they can continue.
AWARDS DISTRIBUTED IN THE RETREAT
'Most Efficient Batch' Award went to 1974 joiners for ensuring that the present, the immediate future and the not-so-distant future FCs were all looked after by them.
'Oliver Twist' Award for asking 'more' went to Parimal for his demand of Rs. 100 crores.
'The Sweetest Person' Award went to Lakra for the 'candy' he distributed.
'The Most Stubborn' Award went to the cork of the Champagne bottle that just wouldn't come out.
With inputs from Ranjanesh