The Special Class Railway Apprentices’ (SCRA) scheme was started in 1927 to meet the demand for engineers on the EIR (East Indian Railway) and on the GIP (Great Indian Peninsular) Railway. The SCRAs are selected by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on the basis of an all- India competitive examination, which is held every year. They are imparted training in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering at the Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (IRIMEE) set up at Jamalpur, and, on completion of their training, serve the Railways in various capacities.
AN EXCLUSIVE CLUB
A total of 949 SCRAs have been selected from 1927 to 1998, making an average of about 14 recruits per year. Their training module is of four years duration with two years of thorough theoretical grounding in the engineering subjects followed by another two years of hands-on practical experience on the shop floor. The training method bears resemblance to that employed at the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, Pune, for training of officers for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
The SCRAs have distinguished themselves in academics, with 39 trainees obtaining honourable mentions from the A.M.I.Mech. E(London) from 1933-39 and from 1954-66, with records for the intervening period of World War-II not being available. 56 SCRAs have also won Gold Medals in the examinations conducted by the Institution of Engineers (India).
ALL ROUND EXCELLENCE
During their stay at Jamalpur, the apprentices are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities like sports, music, debating and performing arts, which not only help in personal enrichment but also stand in good stead later in life. They manage their hostel entirely on their own and organize big shows like the annual re-union of the Old Boys’. This, along with the fact that they interact, from very close quarters, with a myriad of people belonging to the Railways, gives them the confidence and the ability to manage the organization in their later years.
KEEPING RAILWAYS ON THE RIGHT TRACK
The alumni of the Institute at Jamalpur have been an integral part of the
Railways’ evolution from the steam era to the age of high speed locomotives for a major part of this century by providing high quality techno-managerial inputs. Five SCRAs have risen to the ranks of Chairman, Railway Board while 16 have been Members of the Railway Board. Also, a large number of SCRAs have been General Managers and Principal Heads of Departments all over the Indian Railways and also in its sister organisations like RITES, COFMOW, CRIS etc.
TAKING THE WORLD IN THEIR STRIDE
Outside the Railways as well, the SCRAs have been highly successful:- serving in organizations such as the World Bank, being a part of the teaching faculty at universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA, working as top
executives in world class private concerns; both in India and abroad, being board members of Pakistan Railways and lots more. Over 60 alumni have been Principal heads or chief executives or CMDs of renowned organizations in India.
BASKING IN GLORY
The coveted Padmashri awards for distinguished civil services have been given to four SCRAs while two SCRAs have been honored with the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) for serving the armed forces during the 1965 and 1971 wars.