anindita chowdhury
HYDERABAD, 19 JUNE: Despite the popular perception that a public sector job is secure and easy-going, the young work force in such units is increasingly preparing to equip themselves for better managerial skills. This year the Indian School of Business (ISB) with its twin campuses at Hyderabad and Mohali has seen as many as 33 young men and women from the government sector joining the prestigious B school&’s post-graduate programme in management-catering to those with work experience.
The class of 2013 has candidates coming from Indian Railways, GAIL, BHEL and ONGC. The ISB authorities have attributed this “marked increase” to diversity in their classroom. However, with the cash-strapped government sector looking more and more to public-private-partnership (PPP) the two sectors have come closer in recent times. Perhaps that is what may have prompted officials from the public sector to make a beeline for the B-school.
Ms Priya Agarwal, who joined ISB taking a year&’s sabbatical from her employer, the Western Railways said: “Indian Railways is still the largest employer with a huge manpower and assets. But today the government is looking more and more towards the private sector for infrastructure development and hence we too need to have more interaction with the private consortium, understand their mindset and working conditions.” Ms Agarwal, an engineer, says she has the technical knowledge but her stint in ISB would help her plan projects, handle the large workforce and allocate resources especially when faced with a paucity of funds. Though Indian Railways does send its officers for a week-long training at ISB or elsewhere the one year course promises to be much more worthwhile for junior level officials.
Mr NVS Reddy, who is handling one of the largest PPPs, the Hyderabad Metro, agreed and said: “When you work purely in the government for a long time you do get into a particular mould. Your perspective is different. You also allow vested interests to grow by not permitting competition. It was suited for the good old days. But as it is famously said business should be left to business and government should govern, regulate and deliver according to the needs of the public today it is important to have a perspective about the private sector,” he said.  
As a bureaucrat, who preferred anonymity, pointed out such corporate exposure is necessary not only for speed and efficiency which comes with the private sector but also because ensuring accountability and transparency still remains in the government domain.
“How would you know what is there in the agreement with the private partner if you do not have sufficient exposure?” asked Mr Puneet Yadav, an IAS officer and ISB alumni handling the PPP cell in West Bengal. 
However, not everybody is keen to go back to the public sector. Mr Harsh Raghava, who was with SAIL, is proud of the years he has spent in the shop floor but now would be looking for “job progression” after completing his course at the ISB. “I really enjoyed the time I spent with SAIL but compared to my friends I was stagnating while their growth was much faster.”