Oh! These Train Accidents
Every now and then there’s a news of a train accident in India. Talking of statistics, my search on Google tells me that:-
In the 6-year period between 2009-10 and 2014-15, there were a total of 803 accidents in Indian Railways killing 620 people and injuring 1855 people. 47% of these accidents were due to derailment of trains.
Though it is not a comparison to make but being here in China and constantly seeing the fast pace of progress, I can’t refrain from making it time and again and wonder, why we can’t even strive to catch up with them? Why our rheotric and sloganeering doesn’t translate in to action? Simply, because we are neck deep in co ption and don’t mind taking a plunge in this filth even it has the potential to drown us and we are aware that the stink will stick to us for life time, but we don’t care. The love for money has made us shameless, it has killed our conscience.
When I tried to find the statistics of train accidents in China,
“Disputes between the two agencies running the trains in China over how to classify and publish details on fatal railroad incidents has kept reports on some fatal accidents last year from surfacing, people close to the matter say.”
This is negative reporting. When one reads it, he/she is left wondering and the impression that China fudges statistics and hides truth gets superimposed, but this is a lie. I am living here in China. Have been here since 2009. Had there been accidents like they are there in India, I would have heard of them, but there are none to report. There was just one somewhere in 2012 or 13 involving a high speed train and the responsibility was fixed within months and the guilty punished.
It was important for the Chinese go nment to do that. China is working on bringing the whole nation under HSR network and much of it under the Bullet Train network, it can’t afford to falter, when the whole world is keenly watching and the majority is critical of Chinese product and achievements.
But while Indian railways is running trains on old worn tracks, the Chinese railways is ultra- modern. The tracks, trains and technology is latest, even more modern than that being used in the United States and the Europe. Except for Japan, there is none to challenge them and this is true of every field of technology.
They are very hard working, sincere and dedicated people. They are ages ahead of us. If we have to compete with them, we will need a complete overhaul of our personality, the whole mind and body would need a make-over.
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
If turnips were watches, I'd wear one by my side.
If "if's" and "and's" were pots and pans,
There'd be no work for tinkers' hands.
We are talking of bringing Bullet trains to the nation and that to the Japanese ones whose standards are so stringent that none besides them can meet them. Where are the rail tracks for such fast trains? Shall we run them on the old beaten tracks which have lived out their lives? How will we change the Indian mentality, how will we remove the sloth? The go nment officials and the contractors became millionaires while making of highways in Uttar Pradesh and maybe elsewhere too. We don’t know how many more will become billionaires while realizing the bullet train dreams of India. But it is not only about bringing them, it’s about maintaining them and running them safely is what is as important. Even still in India, I think many train tracks have decayed, old, rotten wooden sleeper supporting them. The tracks rattle as the train speed over them. That is one reason of the frequent derailments. We may pin the blame on some engineers and crucify them every time the accident occurs but it is more important to remove the root cause. The Indian Railway infrastructure is a century old and there has been little or no modernization, no improvement in age old technology being employed for keeping them running.
I remember when the Gujars were protesting for being included in the OBC category (and they have got the go nment accede to their demand), for months the huge mass of the protesting people along with their animals squatted pitched their tents on the railway tracks, thereby disabling the whole transport on a certain stretch in Rajasthan. In China most of the train track is electrified and major part of it sits on the elevated pillars, beyond the reach of the fools and even the floods.
China has built Nairobi-Mombasa a 250 Kms. long Railway line and a 3.2 billion dollar project most of which is funded by China, in two and half years. The grand plan is for extending it to Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia. China also is building Railway line in Nigeria and perhaps in every country of Africa. Korea and Japan too have their excellence in building High Speed Train, but we are nowhere on the scene. It is indeed very sad, but what is worse is that every other day our trains are getting involved in accidents causing loss of human life and great loss to economy. The congress now sitting in opposition cries of serious lapses in governance and without batting an eyelid demands resignation of the Railway Minister. Replacement of the Minister or the go nment won’t change anything. There is a need of some serious thinking. Some introspection is necessary.
Gopalakrishnan / / 2 weeks ago
Govt alone cannot do anything. It is the people. Even in India, we rolled out Tejas Express. What happened? People stole the earphones, the LDC monitors, damaged the seats, and what not?
Paradigm shift is the need of the hour. In India, you are not supposed to talk of advanced infrastructure. There is always a team crying wolf and stating that people die of poverty and we are in a luxury.
Indians are conditioned to expect everything free of cost, on a platter. Subsidies, Freebies have made us to accept inferior quality. As you had mentioned co ption is there with each of us just like a cancer.
We take pride in violating traffic rules and also take pride in bribing the cop. then we blame, we did not improve as others did. You cannot have strict rules as people oppose it.
Civic sense is long forgotten thing in Indian culture. We are educated but not cultured. I would not blame the Govt or the Institutions. You get what you deserve. So we do get.....
With regard to railways, you are not supposed to rise the fares, the trains will run at the same speed what it was running 40 years ago, we will not invest in new tracks or lines, how do we expect improvement? nothing is free. If we wanted subsidized travel, then accept the accidents.
You wrote, 'They(Chinese) are very hard working, sincere and dedicated people. They are ages ahead of us. If we have to compete with them, we will need a complete overhaul of our personality, the whole mind and body would need a make-over.'
We in India are racing with fellow Indians in getting perks and privilages meant for the really downtrodden people.There was a time when everyone wanted to be a part of the higher caste circle. They took pride in their caste, community and its achievements. Now after seeing the reservation game played by the go nment, everyone wants to downgrade their castes and get into the reservation category!!!!!!
There is no value for work, dedication, sincerity, life etc. What matters are the cheap thrills, subsidies, co ption AND somehow topping the social circle!
Nice pics and excellent narrative Navneet. China way ahead of India in implementation of massive projects.
Good to learn China is building rail networks in other countries too, like in Kenya the Nairobi-Mombasa network. There, I am told a 500km distance is presently covered in about 8hrs... with some stops in between Nairobi and Mombasa. Funding is all by China I hear.
a very well written article Navneet.
If every railway staff does his job with perfection ( without the " Chaltha hai " attitude) and tracks examined every now and then for faults ...such accidents may never happen ! And when there are heavy rains and repair works going on, examining tracks is a must!!
Remember the old poem.." For want of a nail, the shoe was lost....."