Railway budget has the stamp of truth, open wounds, exposed and bleeding – by Shantonu Sen

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Good Days  for Indian Railways . Clean stations, hygenic food packages on  trains , bullet trains, 58 new trains, facilities for senior citizens and physically  challenged in all stations , e booking, growing to become the biggest freight carrier in the world, security to women on trains, improving security generally  in the Railways ,  boosting the PPP mode and getting FDI to Indian Railways in a very big way are some of  the dreams projected that are  on their way to realization. The last ten years the Indian Railways have been steadily deteriorating all round. The exposure of most of its skeletons in Sadanand Gowdaji’s budget were no  secret but now they have   the stamp of truth,  open wounds, exposed  and bleeding.

In this background the hope of Modi Sarkar that PPP mode will attract local enterprenours, foreign tycoons is fairly dim. Foreign Direct Investment is the next hope but does the desperately ailing enterprise look like  a prospect sound enough to invest? There are  13 lakh employees who do not have the omph any more. Then  there are the manager maharaja’s , the Zonal Manager,  the Member of the Railway Board and their equivalent numbering thousands who no longer get the respect considering the plight of this mammoth behemoth. Without respect their  peformance plummets . At prime time in a private channel  a former Member Traffic  lamented that their dogged opposition has blocked the entry of PPP mode into the Indian Railways in a big way so far. They will not change as their turf has to  remain theirs  come what may! For the good days to be real  the recalcitrant  among them   have to be brought to  heel. Railway unions both of men and officers are so powerful that  after the former stormy petrel now defanged George Fernandes  got the Union to to halt the Railways in its track in the 70’s no one has challenged their might. PPP and FDI wont find it easy to open up the Rail innards that have  fiercely guarded.

Modi Sarkar, as one can see, is determined to bring about the good days in the Indian Railways. Its also impossible that Indian Railways  will see good days with out huge investment and efficient implementation of all projects on the anvil and now  planned . Without accountability and competition the present set up in the Indian Railways will not come good. Their past record,  specially the last ten years, is a crying testimony to what  the Indian Railways  has been reduced to. A look back at  the  telephony  aviation and television    industries   today might hold a glimmer of light to  the future of the Railways. To bring out the best among the Railway employee they too  must face competition as  their colleagues in these   industries   have done . Without in any way depleting the numbers  any where Indian Railways must compete as  did   BSNL, MTNL  AIR INDIA and  DOORDARSHAN . The modality of competetiveness in Railways presents huge challenges  . Modi Sarkar , surely, has it in itself to overcome  the obstacles  that stand in the way to good days in the Indian Railways.


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