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Indian Railways: Appeasement won’t help

It would not be wrong to say that the Indian Railways has been the biggest casualty of pseudo-populism. Let us look at some facts about the railways in comparison to our neighbour China. At the time of independence, the length of Indian railway network was around 54,000 km in comparison to 20,000 km in China. In 2011, the Indian railway network increased to around 64,000 km while in China it increased more than 5 times to 110,000 km.

China has extended its rail network to all neighbouring countries including Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Mangolia, Korea and to Central Asia and Europe. It plans to extend it to Singapore and Pakistan as well.

India has not extended even an inch of railway network to its neighboring countries. India’s fastest trains like Duranto and Rajdhani are running at 140 km/hr speed but China has successfully introduced trains with a speed of 300 km/hr. The track for bullet trains in China has increased to 10,000 km but India has not even laid down such tracks.

The goods carried by Chinese railways are also 5 times more than Indian railways. It is important to mention that the train fare from Beijing to Shanghai is almost 5 times higher as compared to rail fare from New Delhi to Mumbai, which is almost the same distance.

Therefore, the common man is not going to benefit from appeasement with hike rollback, rather he is going to suffer because he has no other option for travelling (“Railways going downhill”, March 24). Unfortunately, not even a single MP raised these issues in Parliament except Dinesh Trivedi the outgoing railway minister.


Spiritual rise

Harish Dhillon’s middle ‘The purpose of suffering’ (March 23) was rich in understanding the philosophy of life. If we surrender ourselves before Him, the great mysticism of life is solved and the individual’s pains and sufferings become His. One must lift oneself spiritually and pray, “Oh God ! I only long for one thing. If you can give me something, give me sorrow, then I can always be in touch with you, since I fear I may forget you in my pleasure”.

Charles Dickens said, “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but- I hope- into a better shape”.

Robert Browning Hamilton beautifully portraits, “ I walked a mile with pleasure, she chattered all the way; But left me none the wiser, for all she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow, and ne’er a word said she; But oh, the things I learnt from her; when sorrow walked with me.’’


Another VDIS

The Indian tax structure is responsible for creating inequality as there is a big difference between the government’s revenue collections from direct and indirect sources of tax. Only 3.5 crore people pay their income tax to the Government in India.

Fiscal deficit targeted at 5.1 per cent of GDP in 2012-13 is down from 5.9 per cent in 2011-12. More resources are required to execute welfare programmes and to reduce the budget deficit as well. Therefore, the finance ministry should introduce the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) again for a second time. It was a successful scheme launched in 1997-98 by P. Chidambaram, then Union Finance Minister. Over 3,50,000 people had disclosed their income and assets under the scheme, which created revenue of Rs 7,800 crore..


Gateway to good life

The decision of the Cabinet committee on economic affairs for starting teacher training centres at the block level, where SCs/ STs and minorities are concentrated, to meet the Right to Education target is appreciable (News item ‘Now, teaching training centres at block level’, March 25).

But another Herculean task in the remote areas would be ensuring attendance of students in the schools. What would the teachers do if there are no students in the class?

The admissions under RTE are not getting a good response from school heads. Poor families are reluctant to send their wards to the school because they are their bread earners irrespective of the child labour law in force.

There hardly has been any action against schools that do not follow under the RTE Act. If the Rs 70,000 crore-grant marked for Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan is paid in the form of cash to poor families in lieu of sending their wards to schools, it can give a boost to school admissions. 

Only then the purpose of giving training to teachers would be really useful to achieve the  RTE target.

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepur


Teachers recruited on ad hoc basis in schools and rightly labelled as ‘guest faculty’ have started claiming their right on these positions and posts. Adopting the path of agitation and demonstrations to press upon their claim to get employment appears ridiculous.

The High Court decision directing the government to start the selection process and recruit persons who have cleared the required tests should be implemented at the earliest so that deserving candidates get jobs. If the guest teachers are allowed to continue, it would breed discontentment and rebellion in the minds of persons who ably deserve the posts.


Home and hearth re-visited 

It is a natural tendency for people to love their native places although they are well-settled in other countries (NS Tasneem’s middle ‘Abiding love for the native place’, March 13). Many years ago, I went to Pakistan and wanted to visit my ancestral house, but could not do so.

What happened following the partition was gruesome. Gandhiji said that Pakistan would come into being on his corpse. But this happened on the dead bodies of one million innocent Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.

Over two crore people were uprooted from their home and hearth. The very thought of the trauma we suffered while leaving our village when a mammoth mob of marauders was about to raid it around midnight and the hardships we had to face in reaching India, sends shivers down my spine.




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