Author Archives: Manu Khanna

Indian Railways Disaster Facts

The Indian Railways network stretches across 64,000 KM, fourth largest in the world after the US, Russia and China. This fact makes me proud, but what follows are facts that can make any Indian’s head hang in shame.

Disastrous Numbers

  • More than 1,000 accidents since 2004 alone.
  • In 2008-09, the number of accidents declined to 177, down from 320 in 2003-04, and a shocking figure of 2,000 in 1960-61. Bet this was the year when they tried running the trains on the fields rather than the tracks.
  • In 2008-09, over 200 people died in railway accidents. This year has already seen 200 dead, wonder what the count be at year-end.
  • The railway safety fund has $3.6bn (£2.4bn) to make trains safer for the millions who use the rail network every year. Little surprised that most railway officials have palatial houses and luxury cars at their disposal.
  • Nearly 17,000 unmanned railway crossings across India allow people to walk or drive through them without wasting precious time waiting for the train to pass. So what if every once a while they get hit by a train. Believe it or not, these have amount to over a third of all railway accidents since 2004.

I can write more, but what is the point? Accidents are not going to end anytime soon.

Forgive me for my pessimist views, but hey, this is what history has taught me. Just when we are about to forget about one train accident, another one happens.

Up ahead: Commonwealth woes Start now

As part of the preparations for the Commonwealth Games, Delhi Traffic Police will begin blocking one lane of several carriageways across the city to test a traffic plan that will be in force during the Commonwealth Games in October. The restrictions will be in place for all 24 hours of the day and are likely to stay in force till and during the Games.
Doesn’t the Delhi Traffic Police know that the traffic in Delhi is as it is chockablock, that it now plans to further congest it? While this plan may help ease commuting for the Game participants, what about the public?
My office is in Gurgaon, and I drive down the 45 KM from NOIDA in about 90 minutes (if I leave office before 5:30 PM). Unfortunately, a good portion of the carriageways where these restrictions will apply fall within the route I take to office. So my travel time is bound to increase substantially. Don’t even want to think b how much!
Why isn’t the media talking about this and what about the already suffering public that is about to be hit with yet more suffering?
If someone doesn’t create a noise about this soon enough, countless motorists such as I are doomed. Especially, if you take into account how impassible Delhi roads become just after 30-minutes of rain, imagine what will happen when the monsoon hits us with full force.

Read more.

Are we a Gutless Nation?

How many more of such stories shall we have to read before the Government will finally get the courage to let loose the army on these maoists/Marxists? How many more innocents will have to die on the very first train- journey of their lives. How many more citizens is the Government willing to sacrifice before declaring an all-out war on the naxalites?
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, and unfortunately, this isn’t the last. The response too will be the same. The news channels will talk about this for 2-3 days, political parties will do mudslinging, and ultimately we will move till there is another bomb blast or aircraft accident.
Don’t know about you, but I am convinced that we Indians lack the courage to correct mistakes, and go after the people who perpetrate such attacks. I say Indians and not the Government, because it is us who don’t vote and allow such chickens to come to power.

Quit Facebook and Stop using Photocopiers

The latest buzz on the Internet is to celebrate May 31 as the “Quit Facebook Day”. There exists even a website that gives you the why and the how of quitting Facebook.

While you are at it, I recommend that you also stop using a photocopier, at least the ones that are strewn about markets across India. Buy a personal device such as the HP Photosmart C4200 All-in-One Printer, and henceforth use it to copy documents.

Here’s why:

Rs. 31 crore and counting

Rs. 31,000,000 is the amount that the Maharashtra government has spent in keeping Ajmal Kasab safe to face trial. Its anyone’s guess how much more will be spent before its Kasab’s turn to be hanged (provided death is what he’s sentenced to.)

The Times of India reports that before Kasab, the final fate of 50 other convicts serving death row needs to be decided. Obviously, there is no law that can prevent the government from jumping the line and deal with Kasab first. But being a democracy, our home minister Mr. Chidambaram has assured that his ministry will dispose of the cases on a “first come, first served basis. 

If Mr. Chidambram said this fearing a backlash by other people in the queue, then he need not worry. This, perhaps is the only queue in the world in which people would not mind being overtaken by others behind them.

Others on this list include people responsible for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the attack on the Indian Parliament amongst others. These two acts occurred in 1990 and 2001 respectively, but are yet to meet their logical conclusion. Kasab should take solace from this and should carry on enjoying the hospitality of the Maharashtra government. The fact that Kasab probably will be in solitary confinement and that too in an egg-shaped cell should not dampen Kasab’s spirits. On the contrary he should be thankful for being alive. If this has happened in China or even in the US, Kasab would have been hanged and buried by now.

Wonder when the political leadership and the Judiciary of India, realize that the certainty of the sentence is as important as its severity. Real justice will be done when Kasab and all others on death row get what they yearned for.