In India, women’s cricket and Railways have shared a beautiful relationship for many years. Indian Railways provides a stable platform to the women cricketers in India that enables them to concentrate on their game without worrying too much about the need to meet both ends.
Indian Railways, which comes under the gamut of the Central Government, is the biggest employer of women cricketers in India. It has been offering jobs to female athletes since the 1985s and today around 90-95 percent of women cricketers in India work with the Railways. In India, Railways is the only institution that offers a permanent job to female cricketers at the moment. Even after you have hung up your boots from playing cricket or whether you have sustained an injury that forces you to quit the game, you can be assured that Railways will carry you all along.
It all began in 1984 when Diana Edulji, the former captain of India, requested Madhavrao Scindia to offer permanent railway jobs for women cricketers. Back then, there were just three teams, namely, Western Railway, Eastern Railway, and Southern Railway. After becoming the railway minister, Scindia considered Edulji’s request and from then onwards, the women cricketers were eligible to get jobs in railways. Indian Railways played their first nationals in 1985.
From three teams in 1984 to eight teams at present, Railways women’s cricket has come a long way. There are a total of 16 railway zones and from them, 8 cricket teams are formed, namely, Western Railway, Central Railway, Eastern Railway, Northern Railway, Southern Railway, South Central Railway, North Central Railway and North Frontier Railway. These 8 teams play an inter-railways one-day tournament every year usually in the period between January and March, however, it can vary depending on the availability of dates. The best players from the competition are picked to form the Indian Railways team. This Indian Railways team then plays against the state teams in the domestic one-day and T20 competitions. It is often said that probably breaking into the Indian team is relatively easier than making the cut into the star-studded Indian Railways side.
Eligibility Criteria to get into Railways Women’s Cricket Team
So, how can you work and play for Railways? The minimum criterion to get a Railways job is that you have to complete your 12th standard. However, if you want to be subject to promotions, then you have to be atleast a graduate. The minimum and maximum age of applying for a central government job like Railways are 18 years and 25 years respectively. However, if a player has already represented India, there can be some relaxation in the aforementioned criteria. Though there may be some players who may not feel the need to join Railways, for them it is important to understand that cricket will be with them only for a certain period of time and after that, they will have to support their living on their own. It is therefore of paramount importance to take the right decision at the right time because the value of a permanent government job in India is worth its weight in gold.
Hierarchy in Railways’ Jobs for Female Cricketers
A women cricketer’s journey at the Railways typically starts with being a junior clerk. With promotions, a player can go all the way up to being a Sports Officer. The pay scale at the Railways is as per the seventh pay commission. At the entry-level, a woman cricketer can earn a salary between Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 35,000 and a Class 3 job holder can earn a salary between Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 50,000, however, the salary that a player can earn is subject to her educational qualification and the level of cricket the player has played. Moreover, there are around seven to eight increments a Railways employee can get in her tenure. While a woman cricketer can get up to three increments in a year, a non-cricketer will be subject to just one annual increment. After retirement from the Railways job, women cricketers get a pension, as per the New Pensions Scheme for those who joined after 2004. Prior to that, the pension amount will be approximately half of the last drawn salary. Gratuity and leave encashment are some other benefits.
Perks for a Railways Cricketer
Apart from the lucrative salaries that a woman cricketer can draw, she enjoys other perks, including traveling concessions and a free railway annual pass. Additionally, the railways’ team that wins the inter-railway tournament gets 330 days of special casual leave and the teams that end up at number two and number three positions get half-day leave. Such concessions help the players in improving their game and also give them more opportunities to work as a team.
2017 was one of the best years in the history of Indian women’s cricket. The team reached the second-ever World Cup finals after the 2005 heroics in South Africa. After returning from England as the runner-up, 10 out of the 15 members in the squad, who were Railways employees, were handsomely rewarded. A cash prize of Rs. 1.3 crore was presented to the 10 players, with each getting Rs. 13 lakhs. These 10 players, including captain Mithali Raj and vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur, bagged promotions too.
As it is often said that the Railway is the lifeline of Indians, there is no doubt that the Indian Railways is the lifeline of female cricketers. It not only provides a stable platform for the women cricketers in India to excel in the sport but also acts as an engine to ensure the growth and development of Indian women’s cricket.
To know more about Indian railways, watch this Video interview with Mithali Raj
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.