Dress Code on IR will promote a Sense of Belonging, fosters Camaradarie and instills Espirit-de-Corps

Suresh Prabhu proposed introduction of the new uniform to instill a sense of pride and belonging among the staff rendering services to around three crore passengers every day. However the proposal seems to have placed in cold storage. Options submitted by designer Ritu Beri remained mediocre.

NEW DELHI: The Railway Board, since more than 4 decades now have been planning to incorporate a proper Dress Code for the Railway men and Railway women and was successful in constituting various committees; only to pile up the bunch of papers and files with nothing to take shape in reality. Various Dress code Regulations were reviewed by the Uniforms Committees constituted by Railway Board since 1980s.

With an aim of giving a distinct identity with a style, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has roped in famous fashion designer Ritu Beri to design dress for its employees including station master, loco pilot, train ticket examiner and guard, during 2015-16. The idea behind introducing the new uniform is to instill a sense of pride and belonging among the staff rendering their services to around three crore passengers every day.

However, it is high time that all Railway men and Railway women, irrespective of rank or function or department or place of posting, are provided with Uniforms and Railway Minister is planning to work out a model that which will ensure proper discipline among the staff and officers across the Indian Railways; in a bid to inject new life into the railway services.

In today’s world, a common uniform is one of the contributory factors towards promoting a sense of belonging to an Unique Organisation, fostering camaradarie and instilling espirit-de-corps. A proper dress code in Indian Railways for the staff will also reduce misuse of lower level staff working at wayside stations.  There are complaints that many Gazetted Officers in different grades (right from Assistant Grade and above) misuse the Gangmen and the staff deployed at wayside sections/stations for track monitoring, signal and telecom, engineering by forcing them to work in their houses for washing clothes, bringing vegetables, cleaning utensils, gargening works etc.  Historically speaking, although system ensure that it goes off the record, it is fact that illegal use of safety category staff at the officers’ residences is also one of the cause of rail accidents because the very health of the track systems were compromised due to such acts.

The Japanese organisations have been pioneers with the Chief Executive down to the lowest functionary donning a common prescribed uniform. Even the upcoming Metro Rail systems across the world are adapting dress codes for their staff. The uniforms which are currently in vogue in the industry are far too many in variety and design, archaic and generally, clumsily stitched. It would be appropriate to release 3 sets of uniforms per year to all the Railway persons. This should comprise of a half sleeves shirt, with 2 flap pockets and a trouser for gents. For ladies, salwar kameez is the appropriate choice. Colour of the shirt and trouser can be decided by an appropriate professional agency, but it would be good to have light grey for the shirt and black for the trouser should do. Alternatively, 3 different colour combinations could be adopted for officers, Grade-C & D, and personnel respectively.

Each individuals’ shirt/kameez should have the name, monogrammed or velcro fastened above the right hand pocket. On the left sleeve, Railway must have the provision for a formation sign – to uniquely identify a Railway Division or Zone. People posted at extra divisional units like Workshops, Stores, Depots etc. could display the formation sign of a particular Zonal Headquarters, Divisional Staff and Officers of the particular division on which they are deployed. Material should be polyester – cotton blend in gaberdine finish, for better durability and maintainability.

Loco running staff should be provided with a cloth cap (or Army’s field service pattern) with formation sign monogrammed and reference should be taken from the combination of Indian Air Force pilots flying dress, complete with stars (1, 2 or 3 – each star to be earned after 10/20/30 years of proven accident free service). Loco running staff should also be issued earmuffs – as a means of protection against hearing loss due to long term exposure to high decibel environment (locomotive cab with frequent whistling at level crossings etc). In cold climate regions, pullovers (colour matching that of the trouser) should be issued.

For sizing of uniforms, the standard adopted by ready made garments industry should be followed viz. S, M, L, XL, XXL for shits and combination of waist and inseam length for trousers. Uniforms should be procured from standard manufacturers including various Ordnance Clothing factories; the handicraft centres on the Railways are unable to maintain acceptable quality.

Each person should also be issued with a pair of black leather shoes with steel toes and an anti-skid sole, once a year.

Issues should be on a one for one basis, i.e. new for exchange of old. Lengths, breadths, heights and physical dimensions of the uniforms  is the liability of the employee, alterations should be the individuals responsibility, not administrations.

Adding a common uniform can be worn for ceremonial occasions like celebration of Railway Day, sporting events and prize distribution ceremonies.

It was opined that in the first phase, front office staff, guards, drivers and catering personnel, onboard staff, station masters, loco pilots, train ticket examiners and gangmen will be given the uniform at an estimated cost about Rs 50 crore. The new uniform will also be given to the technical staff in workshops and production units.

Currently, railway staff including TTEs, station masters and guards wear uniforms which were designed long ago. Beri’s new collection includes sarees and T-shirts.

The new dress was expected to be ready for use by December 2016, however it is still a mirage.

In 2016, Ritu Beri submitted four different sets of uniform, each with a distinct texture, to the Railway Ministry and the public transporter soon launched an online initiative on Twitter, Facebook and the ministry’s website seeking the views of people to help it select the attire. Beri also said that the look of the uniform will be an ode to India and her exoticism. “The focus is to reflect modern India while respecting our deep-rooted tradition and culture, thus reflecting the glory of India. The uniforms will be Indo-western in cut and silhouette with comfort being the most important factor,” she said on that occasion.

However all the proposals received by Railway Board since 1980s went in cold storage.