Posts Tagged ‘Poverty’

Indian Railways- The General Coach

The stark difference between India and Bharat, which is the talk of the town these days is easily appreciable if one walks through any train from the AC coaches to the general compartment. The railway minister talks a lot about introducing a lot many populist schemes, but have we thought which is the class which is truly getting benefitted. I am a frequent traveller of the general compartment, and it is an eye-opener, to remind me always of the real India which is accustomed to a sub-human existence. But the journey that I had yesterday was by all means a traumatic experience.

There is no point in mentioning the train name, as conditions are more or less similar across the country. The general coach was full and there was no place even to stand. After somehow managing to enter the train at Delhi, I waited for the train to reach Mathura, where still more people came in, to the point where it was difficult to breathe. The Indians are very accommodative, and this I re-realized yesterday where people who were barely sitting got up so that 2 people could stand. When the train moved out of Mathura, 2 ladies vomited one after another in the coach and the situation became difficult, at 2 am in the night. The only reason for their condition was over crowding. Now, space was further limited.

What I want to point out is that we talk about the poor, the needy and the need to do something for them, and here, there is a huge chunk of people who pays sufficiently (looking at the bulk of passengers, each general coach contributes more than a sleeper.) for the journey, still travel worse than animals, just because they are too weak to raise their voice, or their voice is not going to be heard anyways. 200 years of British rule has made the weaker ones among us too submissive?

People travel at the roofs of train and die. They stand at the gate and get hurt. Are we so many that these depths do not matter at all? Youth coming back from a cancelled ITBP recruitment drive, sitting on roof of a coach were hit by a low lying bridge and many of them died. All were able bodied youth. We may say, “why did they sit on the roof at all?” But did they have a choice? No matter how many Durontos or Double decker AC trains we run, until and unless the number of general coaches are increased, the railway minister can never take credit of being people friendly. Those travelling in general coaches deserve the treatment of a human being; any other station modernization on world class pattern is secondary. Besides, the income from general unreserved tickets should be calculated and at least coaches should be increased in that proportion. Why do we have 2 general coaches, and 20 reserved coaches, only because the poor are going to adjust somehow, even if they have a single coach for them? It makes no business sense to add general coaches. During the festive season, extra bogies are added for sleeper class and AC, but not a single general coach is added. Ading extra reservation bogies makes it difficult to add general coaches in 24 coach trains, as platform space is limited. In these cases, more general bogies in shorter trains will go a long way in relieving distress to the common man, travelling back home by the train. There are non-Ac trains like Jan Shatabdi which in spite of being only non-AC sitting cars, have no general coaches. Till when are these policies of exclusion going to continue and who is going to pay heed to this?

It is not that yesterday’s journey made me suffer and so I am venting out my frustration. I have a choice to pay more and get a reserved ticket, and forget all this. But there are people, who, by the accident of birth in a less privileged family, have no option but to travel the same way. We have no right to boast of our democracy if we are not able to treat our people as humans, and give them at least what is their due. Having more general coaches is their right and not an act of pity towards them.