Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Midas Touch


The Indian Railways is the largest PSU of its kind in the world. Ferrying millions of passengers across millions of miles each day, the Railways have historically played an important role in development and connectivity, allowing millions of people to travel across this great nation.

However, the picture was not so rosy when the UPA Government took charge. The Railways was considered an inefficient, corrupt, loss-making system that frequently needed major government bailouts. Service was poor, food quality was abysmal and punctuality was unheard of. To top it off, cleanliness on trains and platforms was rare.

In came RJD President Lalu Prasad Yadav. He began his term by trying to increase the number of people using the Railways. He took strong steps to improve punctuality, and many people actually witnessed their train arriving on time for the first time in their lives! He didn't stop there: Lalu Yadav started outsourcing secondary jobs to private players, thus improving efficiency and standards.

As Lalu's plans started coming into effect, history was made. In spite of huge competition from low cost air carriers, the Indian Railways posted a gigantic profit of Rs. 25,000 cr, only to top it a year later! Thus, the country's worst undertaking, in fiscal terms, became one of it's best. By improving freight rates, expanding infrastructure and progressively lowering ticket prices, Lalu Yadav turned the Indian Railways into a slick, profit-making bloodline, traversing the country.

A major feature of Lalu Yadav's tenure has been the annual rail budget: business channels spent hours discussing, speculating and debating the event. Moreover, people also watched the budget enthusiastically, some because they were sincerely interested in hearing the budget, others for the sheer entertainment that Lalu Yadav promises!

However, his only shortcoming was security. The Mumbai blasts proved that the Indian Railways are not well protected. However, some steps have been taken to avoid a repetition, but those are not enough.

Lalu Yadav proved an angel in disguise for millions of porters (coolis). Until 2008, they worked as casual labourers, with no social security or fixed income. In 2008, Lalu Yadav made them all Central Government employees, thus giving them a guaranteed income for their hard work and bringing stability to their homes. Lalu Yadav also introduced the SmartCard for Mumbai in an attempt to mix modernity with tradition. Speaking of modernity, Lalu Yadav, who struggles to speak in English, has deliviered lectures at leading B-Schools around the world and has beem acknowledged as a great manager.

'Chak de Railways' was a term Lalu coined in 2008 to highlight the success of his administration. I would like to take it a step further: Chak de Lalu! He has been one of the best performers in the UPA Government.

The Indian Railways
General Performace: Excellent

1 comment:

Mashantha said...

I have always wondered why so many people make fun of Lalu Prasad Yadav. I don't think that's a nice way treat the best performer of the UPA.........