Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Does the leader have to take Responsibility for Everything?

Many decades back, when there was a train accident, then Railway Minister Lal Bahadur Sastry resigned. Many people praise him for that. At the same time, there are many people, who says that, if there is a train accident at one remote place, how is the minister responsible for that?

Of course, there are enough arguments on both sides. I believe, if the no.of incidents is not negligible, then the leader must take the responsibility.

Just to take an example of Railways only, there are more no.of railway accidents recently. Previously for the maintenance of the compartments, Railways used to take one week per month. Now, they reduced to half week per month with the same resources. That is one reason, why the no.of accidents increased recently. If Her Excellency Mamatha Benarjee suspends few officials, that will not solve the problem. Let's suppose, if she increases no.of trains by reducing the maintenance time, it would be her fault only. She will have to make sure that, either they would get enough time to maintain the engines and compartments, or she has to provide enough resources, so that, they can do the full maintenance in less time. If she does not provide time or resources, and at the time of any accident, if she suspends few officials, that will not solve the problem. On an average, if there is one train accident per month, she cannot say that, it is due to somebody else. She has to take the responsibility of the accidents, and take appropriate action.

The same thing can be observed in any industry. In software industry, generally, the top manager decides the technology and high level design. Sometimes, the developers do not get any say in deciding those. If the manager chooses wrong technology/design, then the entire project will fail, and most of the time, I see managers saying that, the developers are incompetent and it failed. But, only the manager should be responsible for the failure and not anyone who does not have power.

If somebody has power, then they must take all the responsibility for that.


  1. Well I guess if, in this case its the minister who reduced the maintenance time by half that caused this accident then she is responsible for it completely and should resign.
    The higher authorities could be responsible if they are not doing enough for the improvement of such complex systems. Sounds so weird to me that even in these modern times when you have automatic collision detectors we don't utilize such systems and rely on human action

  2. Even if the minister had not reduced the maintenance time, but because of some other action by the minister, if the officials are forced to reduce the maintenance, then the minister would be responsible. Let's suppose, if she increases the no.of trains, and asks the officials to manage somehow without giving any extra resources, then they would be forced to reduce the maintenance time, or do something else which reduces the safety. In all those cases, minister is responsible.