Sunday, May 28, 2006

The turnaround of the Indian Railways ..

India Railways under Lalu Prasad Yadav is doing a great job and Prof G Raghuram, Professor , Public Systems, IIM Ahmedabad was preparing for the meeting with the Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

After the very successful one year of Indian Railways with Lalu Prasad in-charge, IR made impressive progress both on the passenger and freight front. In both the cases, traffic and earnings increased by almost 33 percent. In the period of low fare airlines competing with AC and first class of the IR for long distance travel, Lalu managed to bring down the upper class fares and reduced the second class fares by a nominal one rupee on each ticket. The beauty of Lalu's tenure is that in spite of the reduction in fare, IR did manage to get a profit of Rs. 13,000 crores. Unimaginable !!

It is not that there have been no other sincere and hard working minister for Railways who could give the required leadership and motivation to the staff of IR. We have had great people like Madhu Dandavate and others who managed the Railways Ministry well, but nobody ever could do such wonders or ever attempted !!

An earlier committee constituted by the Union Cabinet, the Rakesh Mohan Committee, of which Prof G Raghuram was a member, had warned the Union Govt to be prepared to pump in Rs. 65,000 crores during the next 10 years to just get the Railways running on the tracks.

We need to look at the scenario from such a grim background. When the management experts in the committee were very sceptical of the functioning of the IR, here comes the wonder man and does the greatest turnaround in the largest organisation in the world. This turnaround could even be classified as one of the greatest turn arounds in commercial history anywhere in the world. And only a person like Lalu Yadav could bring it along.

When the committee headed by Prof G Raghuram went to meet the Railway Minister in his office he offered them a warm welcome. On receiving the pat from the experts on the turn around of the IR, Lalu was as quiet as ever. He just attributed it to the hard work and the sincerity of the railway employees.

When Prof Raghuram offered him help to set up a committee which could advise the Minister on matters of technical and business interests, the Minister politely denied (rather rebuffed) the request, saying that he already has enough experts with him who can manage the Ministry well and does not need any help from outside.

It was a superb and masterly stroke from a great leader, who in one statement raised the morale of the entire working force in the IR. They will now be more devoted and sincere in their approach to the Minister and will never belie the faith he has placed on them.

India definitely needs such great leaders and politicians. Eventhough Lalu has another side which is slightly uncomfortable for him, his contribution to the IR will be remembered for a long time to come. A unbelievable feat which will be difficult to replicate by anybody anywhere else in the world.

Another case at point is the successful construction and commissioning of the world's most modern metro railway in Delhi under the able leadership of it's MD, E Sridharan. A true technocrat, this is another feather in his cap, having been respsonsible for successfully commissioning the Calcutta Metro and Konkan Railway earlier.

The two people are the rare gems one can find in society once in a while. And we need to give them our full support and accolades in achieving some humanly impossible feats !

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