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