On Friday last week, two days after Shaktikanta Das commenced office as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, a new promotion policy was announced. The announcement has led to mounting grievances and strikes at the RBI office on Tuesday as employees showed their resentment.
The new Bell Curve policy brings in a stricter grip on the promotion of junior and mid-level managers. While the rule so far was to have no more than 10% of employees in levels B to E in the lowest performance bracket, the new format has increased the underperformer bracket size to 25%. Therefore earlier, while 90 per cent of the managers in “level B” were accustomed to getting an automatic promotion to “level C” after seven years’ service and officers in “level D” got promoted to “level E” after five years, the new policy would bring the number down to 75 per cent. This would, in turn, not only make promotions a lot more stringent, but also render a larger group of employees non-promotable.
It was the former governor, Raghuram Rajan who had introduced the Bell Curve for the RBI. As with certain bell curve distributions, the average is often skewed and the lower ends do not do justice to the spread of the distribution thus making the system a mechanism that is not foolproof. Moreover, in the past, there had been cases of deserving candidates losing out on promotions due to the limitations of the curve.
The latter half of Tuesday saw workers striking and sitting it out at the lobby in the Mumbai headquarters of the RBI, demanding to meet the governor among other top management. Their grievance was also with the policy of lateral recruitment for AGM and above levels and the contractual hiring of technical experts. All that their efforts received though was an interaction with the Executive Director in charge of HR towards the end of the day.
While the agitations were not organized by the unions as is usually the case in these matters, the fact that it was in promtu points out the strength of long-held grievances. Will the matter escalate to the new governor making this one of the first RBI battles that das has to fight? How can promotions be made more effective without leading to further resentment?