22 September, 2020

Thinning Of The Ballast

Seeds of the Railways success were sown 20 years ago. Laloo just harvested it—a fact this book suppresses.

Narendra Bisht
Thinning Of The Ballast
First, I have a point to pick with the title. By no stretch of the imagination has the Indian Railways ever been bankrupt. In fact, it has been acknowledged as one of the few profit-making railway systems in the world. And it has been paying a dividend on the capital invested by the Centre regularly since 1950. You may as well call the government of India bankrupt because it owns the railways.

Much has been written about how the present rail minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav, has transformed the railways by his out-of-the-box thinking. Simply put, this means the railways has increased its profits severalfold by introducing longer, heavier trains to carry more passengers and freight. But this is hardly Yadav’s idea, as this book by Sudhir Kumar and Shagun Mehrotra makes it out to be. Incidentally, Sudhir Kumar, the ias officer who is Yadav’s chosen one—officer on special duty to the minister of railways—is considered to be the brains behind the so-called transformation.

The much-touted extra carrying capacity that the authors flog as...



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