“Dinesh Trivedi’s budget has caused a political storm, after…Trinamool Congress asked him to withdraw the hike or quit…The Trinamool Congress, termed across-the-board passenger fare hikes as a ‘hostile act’.”– Economic Times, March 15, 2012
News: Dinesh Trivedi has been asked to resign.
Reason: He was ambitious and progressive!
Isn’t it ironic that a minister who wishes to bring about positive changes in the interest of the railways should be punished for fulfilling his duty? The entire railway machinery needs to be modernized. So, why was Trivedi asked to resign? Let’s take a look at what he had envisioned for the country.
Trivedi’s Vision: A New Face for the Indian Railways
Passenger trains running at a speed of 350kmph
Goods train running at 100kmph
State-of-the-art signaling systems which would not jeopardize lives on a daily basis
Clean and hygienic stations equipped with escalators and lounges
321 escalators at important stations across India, out of which 50 were to be built between 2012 and 2013
India would have bullet trains had the new initiative of the ex-Railway Minister been implemented.
India would see high-speed corridors, allowing carries to race at 350kmph, connecting New Delhi to some of the major tourist hotspots. The National High Speed Rail Authority would be established to oversee the grand endeavor. This project would also give a massive boost to freight operations of the railways (a section that has been incessantly losing out on customers to road transport). Stations would have been upgraded to equal the high-class trains being planned.
None of this would be possible now.
Trivedi simply wanted to enhance passenger experience and ensure their safety. The fastest trains we have now are Shatabdi and Rajdhani, which run at less than 175kmph. To modernize outdated machinery, Trivedi required resources that would obviously have to come from the travelers’ pocket, as the government did not offer any support. By increasing travel fares, he would be ensuring that “railways become a safe and robust organization”. Isn’t this what comes under the roles and responsibilities of a Union Railway Minister?
So, where did he go wrong? He went against Mamta Banerjee’s party image of Maa, Mati, Manush (Motherland, Earth, People). Does that mean we need to be pushed into the ground and never dream of progress? India needs modernization at all levels of the government machinery. We had a minister who dreamt of making a positive difference to our country. The Trinamool Congress has not left any stone unturned to bring him down! With this state of affairs, PROGRESS is a far-fetched word.
And yet we cannot fault Mamta too much – she has to win elections and has to pander to her electorate.
So, what is the answer?
The answer is to take railways out of the political process. Indian Rail must be run as a business – a private business. Privatize it.
In USA, railroads are run as a business by companies. The legendary investor Warren Buffet has invested heavily in two of them. Rail roads in the US transformed America; let privatized railways in India do the same. Government will not need funds for modernizing, private companies would invest. Raising fares would be a business decision, not a political one with the need of a parliament approval.