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 !

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Lalu Prasad - the man of the masses ..

This was a writing I did in September 2004. I thought reproducing it would be apt given the popularity of the Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav ..

Laloo - The Common Man's Minister ..

Laloo Prasad Yadav is slowly emerging as the hero of Indian
Democracy. The man of the people. But there are some who
may differ, who inspite of being after his blood all the
past five years had to return empty handed, only to see him
return to Parliament emboldened with not only better votes
and seats for his party, but also in the central cabinet
holding powerful portfolios. He sure seems to be Manmohan's
target man to get the opposition behave the way it should.

Some of his actions have been admirable and timely.

Replacing plastic cups for Khulhar(earthen pots) was such a
popular exercise, that it earned immediate recognition and
support among the masses and conveyed that he meant
business right from day one. Serious business. Getting all
upholstery from the handicrafts sector, he has given a
second life to the neglected and poverty stricken artisans
and weavers. An attempt to identify with the
underpriviledged and downtrodden in the society.

He is no doubt a man of the masses, the style and manner in
which he stopped a goods train in Bihar to check its goods
was something no other Railway Minister has done so far and
dare not attempt too. By that acion he has conveyed that he
can be strict at times too.

Ordering a Railway Enquiry into the reason behind the
Godhra train burning and asking the Committee to fix
responsibility on the concerned Railway Officials and to
propose ways and means to avoid such incidents in the
future was no doubt a masterly stroke. Many skeletons will
fall from the cupboard for sure. Surely the common man's
most important concern in rail travel. The day the
announcement was made after a cabinet meeting, the manner
in which Laloo stuck to his ground holding the card close
to his chest even after repeated cross questioning by
Rajdeep Sardessai in the X-factor programme on NDTV was

Second was the tainted minster issue over the fodder scam
for which he has been constantly opposed by the BJP.
Whether one is accused of swindling crores of rupees and is
elected by a vast majority by the people or one sways
communal frenzy and lets loose mob psyche by fiery
speeches, leading to the killing of innocents and again
getting elected to the Parliament, a criminal remains a
criminal. As the PM has remarked, criminals cannot be of
two classes, there has to be political understanding of
what constitues criminal behaviour and whether a criminal
getting peoples mandate can take a position of authority in

Third salvo was fired just days back, asking the Leiberhann
Commission probing the events that led to the Babri Masjid
demolition in 1992, to probe the role of Advani, Joshi and
Uma Bharati by asking the Time Reporters Anita Pratap and
her cameraman to testify before the judge as to what
transpired at the demolition time in Ayodhya. An event
which has sent shivers down the spine of the BJP leadership
and which has made them to immediately go into defensive
mode contemplating what bullet will come next from the gun
of this totally unbeatable man of the masses.

With the top league Universities of the world queueing for
appointments to get him talk at their universities on
public governance and even Bollywood eager to get some of
his glamour and glory, Laloo is now ruling at the top of
the popularity charts.

The BJP has understood that it was playing with fire when
it tried its level best some years back to get him arrested
and put him behind bars. Laloo is taking his revenge at his
sweet pleasure and leisure. Each time he gets to speak,
there are lots of people eagerly watching the movement of
his lips. And the BJP leadership already its back against
the wall for the destructive role it has been playing as
the opposition and earning the ire of the media and the
common man in the country is getting nervous day by day,
not knowing what this minister is upto next. It is
dumbstruck, how to silence him before he drops the next

Sure, he is a pain in the neck for many ..


Friday, May 12, 2006

Kerala returns the Left .. SeeSaw !

Kerala is playing see-saw politics ..

the people's wish, needs to be respected. Can we say with certainty that UDF will come back next time ? Not forgetting the drubbing the same LDF got from UDF last timeafter leaving the treasury bankrupt with almost rs. 36000 crores in debt. Now it is reversed.

Issues much dearer than Smartcities and expressways need to be handled by the new Govt.. How will they be able to solve the acute unemployment problem in the state, will they be a silent witness toKerala once again missing the chance to get on the IT superhighway ? Will Kerala once again fall behind in providing the right infrastructure and climate for industrial houses to set up shop in Kerala ?

Will the Left learn from the WB Left who have no qualms inviting FDI in the state ? They are even vying to get Walmart, world's largest retailer open shop in Kolkata.

How the LDF is going to lead the state the next five years, provide employment, infrastructure, invite investments into the state, drain the treasury with welfare activities, allneeds to be seen eagerly.

The Kerala people have again demonstrated that communalists and opportunists have no say in Kerala.

After all, people's infinite wisdom and verdict are to be respected. And there lies the success of a democracy.


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