IIM-A will study Prabhu’s Twitter strategy

IIM-A will study Prabhu’s Twitter strategy

Suresh Prabhu

The way in which Ministry of Railways, under Suresh Prabhu, has been successful in utilising a social media platform like Twitter to redress railway passengers’ complaints in real time, will soon become part of the curriculum at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad.

The Ministry of Railways has become a role model for other ministries on how a social media platform can be used to reach out to customers in real time rather than just using it as a platform to indulge in a public relations exercise.

Professor Sunil Maheswari, who teaches Human Resources in IIM(A) and has taken up the study on the use of Twitter by the Ministry of Railways, told The Sunday Guardian that he was inspired to study the subject after reading media reports on how passengers’ grievances were being solved through Twitter.

“Indian Railways is a huge organisation with over 14 lakh employees and so many divisions across different states. The primary focus of this study is how one single tool (Twitter) is being used internally by the railways to disseminate information and how, on the basis of one tweet by a passenger, railway officials across the country get active. I want to study how the whole operation is planned and executed and how a quick response is solicited from the railway officials concerned to help the railway passenger,” Maheswari said.

Professor Maheswari has already started interacting with the stakeholders of this study.

“Work has already started on this, but it will take some time. The study will be part of the curriculum that we are going to teach the students. We are doing this for a purely academic purpose. It is going to be a long process and it is serious research that we have undertaken. Since we are very sensitive about the accuracy of the data, once we are sure about the numbers, only then will they be introduced in the classes,” he said.

According to the professor, to get a complete idea of how things work, he will visit the Ministry of Railways and meet all the stakeholders, apart from meeting the officers in different divisions, zones, the Railway Board and also interact with users who have utilised Twitter to raise their problems.

“Using social media to communicate with passengers is a very innovative idea since they are connecting directly with the public and redressing their grievances in real time. They are also getting feedback from customers and stakeholders in real time which is very useful,” he said.

According to him, non-redressal of a complaint satisfactorily was a big challenge for the railways as it leads to extreme unhappiness if customers’ problems are not solved.

Last month, a railway passenger passed away in a moving train while travelling between Balia and Kolkata after he fell ill and despite numerous attempts by his relatives, who were travelling with him, to seek help from railway officials, he could not be provided with medical help.

Despite Prabhu pushing for quick responses to tweets sent by passengers, many senior officers are still reluctant to reply to tweets as this means an “increase in their responsibility and accountability”.

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Besides the twitterati based study of passengers grievance redressals Rly measures, , IIM-A may also study the peculiar puzzling extra generous perks facilities in Railways generated by the Britishers in their level of wisdom then and carried on by all the successive Railway Ministers for the last 68 yrs or so. IIM-A may also put a few questions to the Rly Minister in this context. Some notable points contextually: (1). 13.50 lakh serving Ry employees have managed to extract & enjoy for decades extra generous LTC benefits each annually.At present they get six to nine free family travel LTCs(Rly passes )annually.Besides they have also managed to extra six PTOs each annually called Privilege Ticket Orders entitling them for family travels in Railways at onethird the Rly ticket fare. (2). Each Rly employee maybe having four to six family members (self,wife, children, parents). Imagine how many millions of berths in sleeper, 3AC, 2AC, 1AC classes are periodically booked/blocked by these lakhs of Rly employees periodically every year .No digital data allowed to be generated all these years. Will it be done now atleast? Railways are cash strapped badly and so if this practice couldbe reviewed in favour of just one LTC per Rly employee annually along with one annual PTO benefit each, millions of adl.berths couldbe released to the paying public and thereby hundreds of crores of Rs. additional income could easily accrue to theRaillways.every year. (3). NO OTHER PSU OR PRIVATE SECTOR COMPANY IS DOLING OUT UNDER DURESS SO MANY EXTRA GENEROUS LTCs BONANZAS PER EMPLOYEE TO LAKHS OF EMPLOYEES EVERY YEAR. WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THESE 13.50 Lakh Rly employees? (4). THE DURESS FACTOR; What has been the duress factor for successive Rly Ministers who have continued with such unethical unfair illegitimate unreasonable LTCs bonanzas for Rly employees annually?. IT IS OBVIOUSLY REPEATED STRIKE THREATS BY Rly employees unions leading to countrywide breakdown of Rail services. (5).NO RLY MINISTER WANTS TO FACE A PARALYSED RAIL SERVICE NETWORK FOR A FEW DAYS . Rly employees have again been threatening to disrupt rail services if their extra-generous LTC facilities/benefits are curtailed in the above manner. If the Rly Ministers had no solution to the above strike situation dilemma for decades, does the IIM-A have a solution now? (6). Railways already in very hard financial times. They cant afford to pay 7th pay Commission awards dues to 13.50 lakh serving Rly employees and another 13.5 lakh retired Railmen through enhanced pensions payments. All these going to gobble up about Rs.30000 crores forRailways. Again strike threat by Rly emplopyees unions if 7PC arrears are not paid to them this year. Why not postpone such huge 7PC arrears payments by an year or two? (7). Maybe during the British times the Rly manpower was very low and so they extended such extra generous annual travel benefits.But nowthe Railways manpower is well over 13.50 lakhs plus retired Rly employees of another 13.50 lakhs magnitude courtesy the successive benevolent Rly Ministers. Total approx. 27 lakhs serving & retired employees. Huge 7PC arrears payments to them all involved to the tue of approx. Rs.30000 crores.Railways have no money to make such huge payments to them. Again they might have to pay the same under duress. (8). Why IIM-A alone.Any other IIM alumni/professor may also take up the above issues with the Rly Minister at the very earliest.Do any IIM in the country have any practical solutions to the above problems in Railways. Any attempts to resolve the same on ethical, fair,&reasonable lines vis-à-vis industry practices in other sectors have only met with periodic strike threats! This has been a hot potato for successive Railway Ministers. And No IIM Director/Professor has been allowed to bethe Railway Minister for the last 68 years. Maybe a definite solution would have emerged long back.

आप ने एक सुंदर कार्य का प्रारंभ किया हे इस कार्य से देश के युवा वर्ग को नई राह मीलेगी जिस की जरूरत थी जो आप ने राह खोल दी हे आप कार्य मे सफल रहे ... हम भी इस उमदा कार्य के सहभागी और आपके कुछ काम आ सकेतो हमारा शोभा गय होगा... जिगर रावल 9687362436 जामनगर गुजरात

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