By Priyanka Saurabh
The Indian Railways, which were in the news due to the accidents, are now in the grip of the financial crisis arising out of Corona. To bring the world’s fourth-largest rail network back on track, the government is preparing to change its form. In addition to cutting thousands of posts, steps are being taken to stop new appointments and to hand over trains on several routes in the country.
Indian Railways has been playing a lifeline for most of the country’s population. The unusual increase in fares compared to facilities after going into private hands is believed to be fixed. Rail is the highest employment institution in the country. Currently, it employs over 12 lakh employees.
It is important to understand how this will affect the country’s general public life. It is necessary to consider how good or how bad this privatization is for the country. After the operationalization of Tejas Express, India’s first private train, Indian Railways has now started the process of allowing private companies to operate passenger trains on its network through 151 new trains. While all these passenger trains are a small part of the entire railway network, the process of privatization initiated by the government marks the beginning of private sector participation in passenger train operations.
Privatization refers to a process in which ownership of a particular public property or business is transferred from a government organization to a private entity. Therefore, it can be said that through privatization it is possible to develop a new industrial culture. In recent times, there have been attempts to use this experiment with the Indian Railways, which has done the work of provoking some sections, While some sections have also been affected by this move of the government.
It is important to understand how this will affect the country’s general public life. It is necessary to consider how good or how bad this privatization is for the country. Commercial train travel in India started in the year 1853, after which the Indian Railways came under the then government in 1900. The largest cooperation in the Indian economy is from this region.
The first electric train of the country was run between Bombay to Kurla in the year 1925. After independence in the year 1947, India inherited an old rail network but about 40 percent of the previously developed railway network went to the part of Pakistan. Then some lines were repaired for the development of railway and some new lines were laid so that Jammu and some areas of North-East India can be connected to other parts of the country.
In 1952, it was decided to convert the Railway into zones to modernize and develop the railway network and a total of 6 zones of the railway came into existence. At that time, railway-related needs were met from abroad, but as the country developed, railway-related needs also started to be met from within the country and our railway continued to progress progressively.
The number of railway zones was increased to 12 in 2003 due to the new era and increasing pressure on railways. And over time, the number of railway zones increased to 17 on other occasions. But as the railway network developed in the country, the challenges related to the operation and management of railways also came up and new options were being discovered. When governments could not increase the profits of railways much, economic experts began to see privatization of railways as an alternative to profit.
Today the biggest question is why the railway which has been the chariot of the poor, why is it being privatized. It is believed that after the privatization of the railways, cleanliness will be better, due to the smooth running of trains, there will be a lot of time savings, better comfort facilities will be provided inside the train. Railways will be able to keep pace with the modernization of their infrastructure and services.
But if we look at the other aspect of privatization, something can be seen. The main objective of private companies is to earn money and they will also use the railways for their profits. Instead of amenities, there will be a sudden increase in fare, which will make rail travel very expensive and difficult for poor people. A section of Indian society depends only on railways for travel, they will lose it due to this privatization.
The biggest thing is that such a large railway sector cannot be operated by any private company. And handing over different parts in different hands would be the equivalent of selling the railway chopped off. Simultaneously, there will also be a lack of uniformity. Who will take responsibility in case of an accident? When everyone cites their respective regions, they will turn away. After all, it will hit the common poor man who will not be in a position to travel by other means.
Private contractors will see their profits. Where only a poor section would travel by rail, those routes would be closed because they would not be getting money from them and with this step people living in such parts would remain untravelled there. If the railway remains owned by the Government of India, then its biggest advantage is that it provides nationwide connectivity regardless of profit.
Private companies are partnered with foreign companies, so if private companies are given the task of operating rail, then it is likely that its security is compromised and India’s image is tarnished in the whole world.
If the Indian government privatizes the railways by recklessly violating the rights of citizens, it would be unfair to them, like selling India’s blood veins. For the strengthening of the economy, the government can look for any alternative other than privatization or it can look at the complete privatization of buses.
As a result of railway privatization, a country like Britain had to face a lot of opposition and faced heavy opposition from the public. Profit of the country’s economy should not be seen everywhere by the privatization, after all, the government is for the public interest, for small gains we cannot do daily loss of the population.