Saturday, August 17, 2013

Indian Poor Needs Service not Dole


India has many people that are very poor. For close to 50 years India has practiced state controlled economy. Government issued ration for people. Government gave people job. Government ran industries. Government ran railways, bus service and airline. Government did all these without caring for profit. Government did everything by spending her own money. Slowly and gradually, government went bankrupt. In the absence of inflow, and only outflow, even bottomless pit one day runs dry.

Strangely, our government did not have imagination or inclination to pump profit into different organizations it was running and improve quality of service offered by them. Look at Indian railways. One of the biggest network in the world. Look at platforms, look at trains. Platforms are dirty, tracks are filthy. Standing on a platform in New Delhi, capital of India, one can smell feces. There is no imagination to put escalators in each platform. For aged, inflrm and sick there is no wheel chair facility that can be accessed easily. Once you get a wheel chair, it has to be pushed all the way out of the platform, cross railway tracks to reach the exit gate. Imagine a sick person being pushed through rain or midday sun. Imagine this station was refurbished spending hundreds of crore to make it a world class station.

Look at our trains. They are slow, crowded and dirty. Most of our trains look so ugly and cheap, Once you are in the compartment, toilets are unusable. Especially so in long distance trains. When luxury buses use modern technology to disopose human waste, Indian railways let human waste be dumped on the track. Food that is served, look so unprofessional. In good trains, if one sees how food is unloaded and then stored in the train one will lose appetite. In this day and age, Indian railways could not use trolleys to haul food. Indian railways haul them in plastic trays. These trays are first rested on the dirty platform, and then next to the toilet of train. 

There are other factors ailing Indian railways like most other sectors that government has put her hands on. Very clearly, managers and leaders do not have a forward looking vision. Despite crying need to modernize, despite desperate need to generate profit, our leaders discourage raising rail fare. There is no imagination to earn profit and plough back the profit to modernize the organization and infrastructure. In the name of poor, our leaders discourage raising fare. Has any one asked or tested if railways give better service, people will not avail them? There are nearly six superfast trains, by Indian standard, between Delhi and Kolkata. Seats in all these trains are booked three month ahead of departure date. Has anyone thought about, if we have a fast train between Delhi and Kolkata that takes 6 hours to travel instead of 18 hours, why would anyone travel by plane? There apparently no such plan or no such vision.

What we see is one railway minister from a particular party cancels railway budget, that many hailed as progressive. Another railway minister was alleged to be arranging plum position to railway executives in exchange for bribe. Is it realistic to expect a modern platform, clean compartment and fast train!

Less said about other transport system is better. Roads are broken, buses are fuel inefficient and non user friendly. Bus terminals are disorganized, dirty and lack even a decent toilet. All in the name of poor! Has anyone asked poor if they enjoy travelling the way, it is being offered? Air travel till recently was considered domain of privileged, read rich and politicians. Our national air carrier remains most of the time off work. Because they go on strike at simplest pretext. Some people say, our national carrier was deliberately made dysfunctional to favor a private carrier. This of course, must have happened at the exchange of undisclosed favor.

Any where government has put her hands, we see an ugly imprint. Beautiful architecture of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament house, Lutyens Delhi, Connaught Circus all made during British Raj. What Delhi Development Authority has done is to build ugly eye sores like Nirman Bhavan, Udyog Bhavan, DDA flats and other similar structures. All bereft of imagination, poor quality and a proof of poverty of vision. Delhi government has dug up Connaught place in the name of beautification. Connaught circus is an ugly mess today in the heart of Delhi. 

Our leaders, read politicians, have tried to get personal benefit at the expense of common people like us. Many have made huge sum of money by manipulating their proximity to power. All the while, common people have suffered and deprived of their legitimate right, all in the name of poverty alleviation.

It is time, India separates government from running business. Government should create system that will allow people to run business in a fair and equitable manner. Government must oversee rules of law are followed and guilty is efficiently punished. Cost will come down when there is competition, not by giving dole. A typical case in point in mobile phone revolution, where a poor and rich have equal opportunity to choose the handset and choose the service they want at the price they can afford.
Post a Comment