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<-- Pass your mouse over this photo to see me welcoming Shri Chandrasakhar, Prime Minister and Shri Sharad Pawar, Defence Minister at a function in Mani Bhavan, Mumbai when I was working in KVIC.
Years as a Railwayman

Hello, friend,

Now that we know each other for 24 years, I hope I can call you a friend. Here, I shall cover my career with Indian Railways and other organisations from 1970 till date (February 2006).

I have worked in a number of places and states as well as two non-railway organisations. This map shows all theplaces where I have worked (including Mettur, where i worked after graduation).

I'd have normally retired from service on 31st January 2006 after completing 60 years. But I retired voluntarily on 8th December 2005 to join Railway Claims Tribunal as Member (Judge). I wrote an article as a farewell piece to my railway colleagues. You can read it by clicking on 'Goodbye, dear friends.

1970 - 72    Paid for doing nothing - My Training as IRAS probationer
My total period of training was 2 years. The first four months were spent in LBSNAA, Mussoorie LBSNAA, Mussorie (Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration), with IFS, IAS, IPS and other probationers. Narayanan ( IAS, Tamil Nadu cadre) and I became extremely close friends, though I have lost touch with him for the last few years. The classes were interesting and we used to go on hiking every week. After four memorable months in Mussoorie, I moved to Southern Railway at Madras. The period from December 1970 to May 1972 was perhaps the most relaxed and enjoyable period of my life. One of my seniors advised me that a probationer was not expected to be seen in the office before 11 A.M. and after 1 P.M. We (and our senior officers) made sure that our training was only for two hours and other time was spent in meeting people, going to films, inviting ourselves for lunch with senior officers ( 'May we have the pleasure of your company for lunch - in your chamber?' ) etc. I travelled extensively around Southern Railway as well as a large part of India. To make sure that we did not feel that we were paid for loafing around, we were periodically sent to Railway Staff college for class-room training, exams etc. I also visited a number of Railway organisations, viz., Chittaranjan Loco Works, Integral Coach Factory, Railway Board etc. Ashok Chawla and Sneh Pasad ( now Bijlani ) were two close friends during my probation and this friendship has continued till today. I also became a close friend of N.Parthasarathy, my senior in service.

May 1972    All good things must end - My first posting
My training period ended in May 1972 (2 months earlier as the computer training was to be conducted by Railway Staff College later). A week before end of my probation, I was transferred to South Central Railway and posted as Junior Accounts Officer (Construction), Solapur, which was then a part of South Central Railway (now it is in Central Railway).

1972-75    Solapur, Vijayawada and Secunderabad
Let me first differentiate between post and posting. When I say posting, I generally mean the place unless the organisation in which I worked was different. I have held a number of posts in the same place of posting, e.g, 2 in Solaour, 3 in Secunderabad etc.
I shall tell you something about my first three postings as answer to this question. I spent about 18 months in Solapur, 6 months in Vijayawada and 2 years in Secunderabad. I got married to Amritha while in Solapur. The only thing I remember about Solapur is the most beautiful bed sheets and my visits to Siddeshwar temple, Pandharpur temple and Tuljapur temple. I also remember that we barely managed to make both ends meet on my salary of Rs. 400 per month.
I was struck by the hotels in Vijayawada and Hyderabad, where Avakkai pickle and oil were kept and used liberally like salt and pepper. Though not a great believer, I was impressed at the Panaga Narasimha temple, where exactly half the quantity is consumed by the deity, irrespective of the size of container you take. I also remember that good milk was costing just 1 Rupee a litre in Vijayawada.
My son, Harish was born when I was in Secunderabad. As we were the first family member to be posted in Hyderabad, we were happy to have relatives visiting us. My brother-in-law, Raghu got his first job in Hyderabad and stayed with us for about an year. We had good fun and I particularly remember the triple ride in his scooter and seeing films. Somehow the Railway Board came to know that we were enjoying our stay in Secunderabad and I was promptly transferred to CLW, Chittaranjan.

1975-79    Life without energy ?
When I went to Chittaranjan , Bengal was reeling from power shortage. I used to tell people that Bengal has Chatterjee, Mukherjee and Bannerjee, but sadly no energy. But the work in Chittaranjan, where I was in the EDP centre, was very challenging. In these days, when we talk of a minimum of 32 MB of memory, I was working with IBM 1440, which had a memory of 8 KB. Even out of this, 332 bytes went away for Input / Output, viz., Punched card, tape, disk and printer. We were carrying out all the applications of today, viz. Payroll, Provident Fund, Stores Accounting etc. We used overlay technique extensively and enjoyed programming, which needed a lot of skill. We used Autocoder , which was just a step ahead of the machine language. Unfortunately, ENIAC Computer I do not have any photograph of IBM 1440 , but I am giving the photograph of ENIAC machine made in 1946 and IBM 1440 was similar to this.In Chittaranjan, K.Subramanian (who I consider the best programmer I have ever seen) and I also organised the Tamilian officers and I became a close friend of N.Krishnamurthy , my senior in service. We had an active Tamil magazine club and were meeting regularly over pooled dinners. My parents visited us for Harish's (my son) first birthday. I remember that my mother and Amritha cooked a lot of items for over 30 persons using the 'chulha' (coal oven) and kerosene stove.

1979-81    Bengal to Rajasthan via Maharashtra
I went to Bombay (Central Railway) in May 1979 on promotion. But I spent too short a time in Bombay to say anything about it. However I remember that I spent 5 months in training- 2 months at NITIE, Bombay and 3 months at ASCI, Hyderabad (which used to be a college attached to a bar). During this period Amritha and Harish stayed with her parents in Madras with Harish joining a school near the house. In October 1979, Amritha delivered a girl in Railway Hospital, Perambur, but unfortunately the baby died within a few hours. It was a traumatic experience.
As IRAS believes in gender discrimination (in favour of lady officers), my juniors were accommodated in Bombay and I was posted to Kota in Western Railway in January 1980. I spent two enjoyable years there. We had an active Officers' Club and I was its Secretary. We had dinners every Friday with Housie, Card sessions (rummy, teen-pathi and bridge). The club's picnic to Amjar Palace was also good. I also remember visiting Gandhi Sagar near Kota. We (a few Tamil families) used to go to Chambal gardens and Kota barrage on picnic . I cannot also forget the hospitality of Bhargava, who was working in my office, but was the chief trustee in the temple near Chambal Garden. He used to feed us with Dal Bhati (very rich Rajsthani preparation with a lot of ghee ) and Choorma. How can I forget our huge house in Kota, where we grew two crops of wheat (about 150 kgs. each ) and one crop of rice ( about 130 kgs. ,out of which we converted 30 kgs. to boiled rice ) in the two years that we were there? The work was also interesting as the basic purpose for which the Railways exist is achieved only in a division.

1981-87    Those who can, do: Those who can't, teach
In October 1981, I moved to Railway Staff College, Vadodara. Railway Staff College The institution established in 1952 in Pratap Vilas Palace, Vadodara ( earlier called Baroda ) is the premier training institution of Indian Railways. The six years I spent there was a period of self-development. Though I resisted the transfer initially , I later found that I enjoyed teaching and I think the officers who came for training also enjoyed my teaching. I was also lucky to be there at the time when the college was changing its focus from probationary officers' training to management training for officers at all levels. I covered a wide range of subjects - communication skills covering public speaking and rapid reading, memory skills, group and inter personal skills, history of Indian Railways, railway accounts etc. I was also responsible for the entire two-year training of IRAS probationers. All these kept me extremely busy and they also kept me from becoming stale, which is the biggest problem in teaching. Personally also it was a happy period. My daughter, Aarthi, was born there in 1984. I enjoyed the company of all my colleagues, particularly, M.V.Krishnamoorthy, Ramasubramaniam , Samar Jha, Ashok Chawla , Kulkarni, Mani Kutty and Subramanian. I also went on my first trip abroad to Derby and other places in U.K. for four months in 1983 . At the end of my training in U.K., I went on an European tour by train covering Brussels, Cologne, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Malmo, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Basel, Zurich and Paris. It was enjoyable.

1987-90    Railwayman ban gayaa Gentleman
Railwayman is a Railwayman,
Gentleman is a Gentleman
And the twain shall not meet
In my case, it did! From a Railwayman, I became a gentleman by going on deputation to a non-railway organisation. There was a proposal in 1987 to transfer me to Railway Board, New Delhi. Since I never liked a posting either to Railway Board or to Delhi,Bhabha Atomic Research Centre I tried for a deputation to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay, near Bombay and joined it in 1987 as Internal Financial Adviser and Head, Accounts Division.
I spent a pleasant two years there with scientists of the caliber of Dr. P.K. Iyengar, Dr. R.Chidambaram and many more. The colony at Anushakti Nagar, where I lived is an excellent township. BARC as well as the colony are perhaps the greenest places in the whole of Mumbai. My interest in computers was rekindled here in the company of Kaura and Dhekne. From BARC, I went to U.K. again in 1989 for a training course on Public Enterprise Management at Ilkley in Yorkshire. It was an excellent course, in which I acquired two friends, Abhay Bhave and Bulbul Ghosh.

1990-95    Hi-tech to low-tech?  Atomic Energy to Village Industry and back to Railways
After a short spell on Central Railway, I again went on deputation to Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC ) as Member, Finance ( but was known as Financial Adviser, which was the old designation). It is an organisation with a rich history and many excellent individuals. My stint there was very interesting and I found the work highly enjoyable. I was my own controlling officer and travelled extensively all over India. I went to U.K. again for a two-week seminar on Rural Banking in Brighton. During my stint in KVIC , I met many eminent persons including two Prime Ministers, viz., Shri Chandrasekhar and Shri P.V.Narasimha Rao.
I came back to the Railways to Western Railway as Financial Adviser & Chief Accounts Officer (Finance & Budget) in January 1995 . It was a short stint. I shall always remember this period for the sudden death of my sister-in-law ( Choodamani Sampath) in Calcutta on a Friday in June. This was followed in four weeks uncannily on another Friday in July by that of my brother (Sampath) and his entire family (niece, nephew and grandniece) in a building collapse. It appeared as if my sister-in-law waited for the religious ceremonies to be over before calling her family to her. The long wait at the site for the bodies to be recovered , the flight to Madras with the bodies and the cremation are still a vivid memory.

1996-98    Financial Adviser becomes Executive
In December 1995, my transfer orders as Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) at Tinsukia in Assam were issued. Before handing over charge, I visited Ranathambore Sanctuary with my family. I joined Tinsukia in January 1996. It was a different work altogether. Indian railways are divided into about 60 divisions, each headed by a DRM. The actual train operations are done only in a division. A lot of interaction between different departments as well as State Government, customers , Army etc. is necessary. I had a happy time for about 27 months. Though Assam is a difficult state with rampant terrorism, Tinsukia was relatively better. Of course, I had tension at times like the arson at one of my stations in which the station master on duty was killed ; the threats on Independence and Republic Days and an extortion threat on telephone. But overall I have the satisfaction of having performed well on my job. The highlights in Tinsukia during my stint were the conversion of the entire division from Metre Gauge to Broad Gauge, Last Steam Loco of Tinsukiaopening of a Divisional Training Centre for the staff, a new Officers' Club etc. I shall always cherish the team-spirit among all officers and staff of Tinsukia. Among the many functions organised here was a farewell for steam locomotives in February 1997 before phasing them out. An article 'Farewell To Steam Locos', written by me was published in Eastern Clarion , Jorhat, Assam on this occasion.
I also met a number of eminent persons including two more Prime Ministers, viz., Shri Deve Gowda and Shri I.K.Gujral , Army Chief etc. I also cherish this period for my visits to many interesting places in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. My family stayed back in Mumbai, but joined me four times. I was able to visit Mumbai and Chennai a few times. But each time I spent about seven nights in train and one night in Mumbai. My family as also a handful of close relatives visited Shillong and Cheerapunji in Meghalaya. Though there was no e-mail facility in Tinsukia, I was regularly sending e-mail from November 1997 via Mumbai and coined the term NAUnet (Nephews(ieces), Aunts, Uncles). How can I omit my mild heart attack in May 1996, when I was on leave in Madras ? After a fortnight's stay in Perambur hospital , which included an Angiography, I was diagnosed as having Coronary Embolism [ defined in Mosby Medical Encyclopaedia as a defect in which a clot (embolus) travels through the bloodstream and becomes lodged in a blood vessel, usually in the heart, lungs, or brain. According to my doctor, this was more common among Japanese coronary patients than anybody else. Though nothing serious happened, it helped me become more aware of my health. I started walking a lot and reduced my diet, which continue even now. I tell everyone that people give up eating certain fruits and vegetables after a visit to Varanasi or Gaya, but I gave up ghee after a visit to Perambur.

1998-2002    Back to Amchi Mumbai
Yes, the main purpose of my going to Assam was to ensure that my daughter, Aarthi's, education was not disturbed. So I was posted back to Mumbai on Central Railway as Financial Adviser & Chief Accounts Officer (Finance & Budget). The post brought me into close contact with the General Manager and other senior officers and involved a lot of computerisation. I was in this post for more than three years and enjoyed the job.
1999 became an unforgettable year for us for three reasons- one very tragic and the other two pleasant. The tragedy was the death of my two nephews in Dubai in a road accident in October. One of the two pleasant events was the trip Amritha and I made to Europe in May/June. The other pleasant event was Aarthi securing the first rank in St. Joseph's High School, Colaba in her 10th Standard Board exams. She joined St. Xaviers' College for her Junior College. I was posted to Western Railway in construction in March 2001 after Aarthi's HSC exams. After six months in Western Railway, (during which I was involved in over 80 Works Tenders, which is something of a record), I came back to Central Railway as FA & CAO. However after both my son and daughter moved out of Mumbai, I decided to request my boss for a shift to Chennai so that we could take care of my mother and be of help to my in-laws.
These four years in Mumbai from 1998 to 2002 saw me starting an e-Newsletter for the family. Both Amritha and I became members of National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) and we were regularly attending plays, concerts etc.

March 2002 onwards    Back to roots - ICF
Anybody who has spent a long time in Mumbai takes some time to get adjusted to any other city, even if it is his place of birth. I am no exception. I moved to Integral Coach Factory in Chennai in March 2002 and my wife joined me in May after I was allotted a house. It took us a few months to forget Mumbai (though at times Amritha refers to Villivakkam as Vile Parle). We have an excellent railway bungalow - a huge one with a good garden (which Raghu, my brother-in-law refers to as Aynavaram Mansion). My mother, who is bed-ridden due to Arthritis is with us. My father-in-law passed away in March 2002 and my mother-in-law stays with us for some time. Amritha and I Accounts Department Cricket in ICF have our morning walk in our garden and also play shuttle regularly. I took an active part in the IRAS Retreat organised by Mr. Murali (Financial Commissioner) and wrote a humourous article on (AN IRREVERENT LOOK AT IRAS RETREAT) it which was well-received. I took part in cricket and shuttle tournaments among our officers and staff. Workwise, Mumbai was better, but I have found time here to make this website. In fact, I have written an article on my transfer. You can read the article titled When my mother sang...

April 2003 onwards    Back to roots - Southern Railway
The posting in outhern Railway was enjoyable. The sports meet for employees which I introduced in ICF was introduced in Southern Railway also. It was a great success. I also tried a number of steps in man-management. We also organised the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of IRAS. The period that I worked on Southern Railway saw a complete change in my life. I became addicted to Carnatic music. The pleasure I got from the music was so much that I felt I must do something to spread it. This led to two books - one in September 2004 and the next in November 2005. Both were born after a lot of research in the Net and have been discussed under 'My Interests'. Officially also it was a memorable period. Southern Railway won the Efficiency Shield for the first time as the best Accounts Department among all the 16 zonal railways and I received the shield from Shri Lalu Yadav, Hon. Minister of Railways at the Railway Week celebrations held in Calcutta.

Click to enlarge


Fortunately I did not have any more transfers. In 2004, I applied for the post of Member in Railway Claims Tribunal and was willing for a posting either in Chennai or Bangalore. Thankfully I got Chennai. The post is that of a judge and the job is to hear cases pertaining to claims (passenger and freight) against the railway and award judgement. My son Harish commented that Gopalan (my brother) became an advocate after retirement while I became a judge. My reply was 'Thank God, no relative became a criminal after retirement.' The job gives me two more years of service and so I took voluntary retirement from the Railways on 8th December 2005 and joined the Tribunal on 9th December 2005.

Pearls of Wisdom?

I have had a satisfying career and have enjoyed all my postings. Though transfers create personal problems, I feel that transfers and deputations are to be welcomed as they help in expanding your horizon and improving your personality. If I am asked to select the posts that gave me the maximum job satisfaction, I'd say KVIC, DRM/Tinsukia, FA&CAO (F & B), Central Railway and Railway Staff College in that order. I have been fortunate to have had excellent bosses, top-class personal staff and very good colleagues and subordinates throughout my career. And I have learnt the most from my colleagues in all departments as well as juniors.
At work, I try to pursue excellence in whatever job I am assigned. I believe that
- what one fool does, any other fool can doo
- the most important job for me is the one that I hold at present (and has always been so )
- the goals I set for myself are more imporrtant and difficult than the goals set by others for me.
- if you get tense often , you will soon beecome past tense.
- you should laugh often, at yourself and with others.
- Even if goodness is taken as a sign of weeakness, be good but be firm in matters of principle
- you should praise in public and scold in private.
- The only thing you really take with you wwhen you go (from a post or this world) is the goodwill that you leave behind.
- In matters of punctuality, integrity etc.., be a good tennis player, but in human relations, be a good cricket player. (Let me explain that in tennis, you score points as long as you are within the boundaries, while in cricket, you get more runs by going beyond the boundaries)

If you did not read my farewell article earlier, you can do so now by clicking on 'Goodbye, dear friends.

IRAS has an active web site which can be viewed by clicking here.

Hope you enjoy your stay here.

Thanks & Regards,

S. Parthasarathy

A letter by an aggrieved passenger

Dear Sir,
I am arrive by passenger train at Ahmedpore Station and my belly is too much swelling with jack fruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just as I doing the nuisance, that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I running with lotah in one hand and Dhotie in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shookings to man and female women on platform. I am get leaved at Ahmedpore station. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung, that dam guard no wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make beeg fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making beeg report to papers.

Yours faithful servant,

Copyright 2003 S.Parthasarathy. All rights reserved.

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