Food For Thought: The Caste of Your Railway Catering Manager Shouldn’t Matter

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) faced online flak from Twitterati when a recruitment ad posted by one of their major food contractors specified that they were looking for candidates belonging to Agrawal and Vaish communities.


Railway ad

Brandavan Food Products, or RK Associates, which is a private contractor from Delhi’s Okhla area andthe caterer for at least 100 trains, gave an advertisement in a prominent English newspaper on November 6 stating that it requires 100 men for various managerial positions on an urgent basis in departments such as the railway food plaza, train catering, base kitchen and store manager.

The Railways have since written a strong “displeasure letter” to the company. In a statement, the railway authority said, “Serious view is taken by the IRCTC and the contractor has been asked to refrain from giving notice on caste lines and recruit eligible candidates.”The Indian Express reported thatIRCTC has been been informed of the firing ofthe human resource manager who posted the advertisement.

In response, the Group General Manager of the enterprise wrote an apology lettter to IRCTC, stating that this advertisement was placed publicly due to a “clerical mistake” and that they did not realize what had happened until they received telephone calls over the issue.


Hindustan Times reports that the railways currently operate 378 mobile and 9208 static catering units and that IRCTC was made responsible for food-related business for the railways, including its preparation and distribution.IRCTC is currently handing out central contracts to private parties to run the mobile catering units. A total of 48 catering contractors are serving the railways as of now.

Other scandals

Brandavan Food Products was also party to a CBI case which was labeled as the “Rail Neer scam”, in which private caterers were investigated for money launderingby allegedly supplying other brands of drinking waters instead of the IRCTC brand water in Rajdhani and Shatabditrains and thereby causing losses to the government exchequer.

In 2017, the Railways Ministry hadterminated its contract with Brindavan Food Products apantry car staffer employed by this contractor was arrested for allegedly raping a passenger on the Aravali Expressafter pretending to help her get a berth in the train.At the time, the Ministry had tweeted, “Notice for termination of contract for 19707/8 has been issued to Brindavan Food Products,3 days notice has been given.”



***Image Credit: Avishek Dastidar, Indian Express



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