Vivek Sahai signs off as chairman Railway Board on Thursday on an upbeat note: His pet project – the railways television commercial produced to coincide with last year's Commonwealth Games – has now won the Gold Lion at this month's film festival at Cannes!
Conceived and designed by the Ad Guru Piyush Pandey and the team at Ogilvy and Mather, the commercial stood out for its defiance of the conventional ad-template of the government.
Awards have showered down on the railways commercial in past months: Bronze at Bangkok's Asia Pacific and at the Abby's Ad festival at Goa this year - rated second by the NDTV amongst all government/public sector undertakings advertisements in 2011.
Within a week of its release it got the largest number of hits on U-tube.
With the human train running down streets, houses, through corridors, crowded intersections and even the roofs of buildings, the commercial typifies what the Railways stand for - connecting people from all corners and all walks of life.
Competing with giant multinationals including Puma, Chrysler and Nike, the Railways commercial was awarded the Gold Lion in the film craft category for the best use of music at the Cannes film festival on June 24.
Meantime, hectic lobbying and huge speculations have begun for the top post of the railways.
Mamata Banerjee had recommended the elevation of Member (Mechanical) Sanjiv Handa, currently the senior-most.
But Handa's candidature is strongly being opposed on grounds that he will only have an eight month's tenure as the CRB, if appointed.
Throwing his hat in the ring is Vinay Mittal, general manager of the South Eastern Railways, who is 16 th on the seniority list and two years junior to Handa – but will have two years tenure as the CRB, if appointed.
Mittal's elevation, it is being said, will also make it possible to accommodate Kuldeep Chaturvedi as Member (Traffic). Chaturvedi – currently posted as the general manager of south western railways – is related to former cabinet secretary BK Chaturvedi and has been superseded twice in the past.
The trouble with the Mittal/Chaturvedi arrangement is that it violates recent policy guidelines of the UPA government – of preferring the senior most suitable officer for top level appointments. Prakash Chandra and Ajit Seth (recently appointed as Chairman CBDT and Cabinet Secretary respectively) were recently elevated on adherence to the seniority principle.
In the past, just two officers have been elevated as the CRB after by-passing the senior-most principle (JP Batra and RK Singh).
"In a hierarchical organization like the railways, it serves little purpose to side-step the seniority-principle. It creates bad blood and hampers smooth functioning," sources maintained.