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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Looking at the engine - of growth!

That the new government is going to focus towards railways in particular is indeed god sent for this organization that despite being in monopoly in a sellers-market in a nation of over hundred and thirty crores continues to underperform with amazing regularity. Yet it is often touted as an organization that delivers in this nation where other government bodies generally continue to flounder, an achievement only in relative terms.
An amazing organization that has immense possibilities, an organization that can kickstart the ailing economy and indeed redeem its place as the economic lifeline of the nation, but for it to do so, the archaic managerial structure and processes would need to be overhauled, if not built afresh.  Perhaps reorganizing the railways on functional, not departmental lines and taking the flab of the highly bloated bureaucracy would be in order. Moreover clarity also needs to be brought on whether railways is a ministry or a corporate or a combination of both as that alone should form the basis of how this largest corporate in the world in terms of number of employees, should be run.  

The last ten years have witnessed a rapid deterioration in the affairs of this giant monolith.  Growth has virtually come to a standstill, employee morale is at an all time low, public perception is abysmal, corrupt practices in almost all activities including apex level appointments as witnessed during railgate have become the order of the day and vision is conspicuous by its sheer absence.

With the first golden quadrilateral having been built in the nineteenth century, there is a pressing need for the ministry to rise above keeping itself occupied with petty matters and deal with major issues like quadrupling the Delhi – Mumbai – Chennai – Kolkatta corridor and improving and enhancing the basic infrastructure that is unable to cope with the present and forecasted level of traffic. Such measures would enable the railways to visualize its dream of running high speed bullet type trains within its system and also perceptibly increase the number of trains that it operates, catering to both passenger and freight traffic. The days of patch-up solutions are now over.

Fast tracking the dedicated freight corridors, inducing private investment in building new lines and terminals, outsourcing non-core activities and simplification of the complexity that the railway bureaucracy has built into its entire gamut of activities would need to be handled well by the new government. 

Inadequacies in passenger amenities on trains as well as terminals can be attributed primarily to the complexities in the operating procedures and contractual mechanisms and can be tackled expeditiously. Ensuring cleanliness in trains and stations and fast tracking the ambitious project of putting bio toilets in trains, measures that are the need of the hour and would enhance railways image would need to be constantly on the focus of the new government. 

Indian Railways has gone through a long period of sheer exploitation. It now need proper inputs – managerial, structural, financial and also in terms of processes for it to emerge as the growth engine of the nation as envisaged by the leader.  

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