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Posts Tagged ‘Indian Railways’

Desi Nostalgia For British Raj

July 26, 2011 2 comments
The conversation between Indian Swaraj Snake and the British Snake Charmer - Snake: I had hoped for something more congenial from this new instrument. Secretary for India: The Instrument may be new but I don't propose to change the tune just yet. Meanwhile you've got to be charmed with it, wether you like it or not. Note: British cartoon from Punch magazine, featuring British Labour Government as a Snake Charmer, the snake is called Swaraj which was the India Home Rule movement. (Image source and courtesy - collectorsprints.com.).

The conversation between Indian Swaraj Snake and the British Snake Charmer – Snake: I had hoped for something more congenial from this new instrument. Secretary for India: The Instrument may be new but I don’t propose to change the tune just yet. Meanwhile you’ve got to be charmed with it, wether you like it or not. Note: British cartoon from Punch magazine, featuring British Labour Government as a Snake Charmer, the snake is called Swaraj which was the India Home Rule movement. (Image source and courtesy – collectorsprints.com.).

Raj nostalgia among Indians

Many of the old Indian élite miss the British Raj. For its opulence, pomp, show and glitter. Forgetting, that the British Raj was built on groaning famines and grinding poverty.

The numbing atrocities were a bonus from the British Raj.

Raj legacy?

For glorification of the British Raj, Indian railways remains the favorite prop of the Raj elites and loyalists. A recent instance is a post on Indian railways that ends without once using the word British.

The writer Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, in his syndicated column remembers ‘a childhood spent in railway colonies’ when ‘trains were always on time’. This is not a fact and not even fiction.

So, where does Shri Datta-Ray gets his info from?

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray uses ‘instincts’ to illuminate us with his journalistic ‘revelations.’

Dens of iniquity

Indian railway systems of 20th century, during and after the British Raj, became increasingly notorious for accidents, lack of punctuality, high costs; and horribly elitist. This state of affairs continued for about four decades after Independence. It took LB Shastri’s resignation to bring home the fact that the responsibility for these accidents lay at the highest level – and not at at the end of rope.

While Sunanda K. Datta-Ray glorifies colonial railways (cocoons of permit and privilege) modern trains, faster and better, are dismissed as ‘upstarts of the railroad.’ Any which way, there is no satisfying Sunanda K Datta-Ray. He just cannot find anything good in modern India.

At least not in modern Indian railways.

In Britain, governing India was never seen as easy - and an intractable problem. (Churchill on the Problem Indian Elephant, with 'India Problem' across the elephants' forehead. Artist: Leonard Raven-Hill. Published in Punch Magazine - 8 March 1933. Source and courtesy - punchcartoons.com.). Click for source image.

In Britain, governing India was never seen as easy – and an intractable problem. (Churchill on the Problem Indian Elephant, with ‘India Problem’ across the elephants’ forehead. Artist: Leonard Raven-Hill. Published in Punch Magazine – 8 March 1933. Source and courtesy – punchcartoons.com.). Click for source image.

While people like Sunanda K. Datta-Ray were put up at ‘a good restaurant with khansamas in crisply beplumed turbans and gleaming brass medallions’, the paying underclass (like most of us), had to make do with Third Class ‘facilities’ – and treatment.

Dim lights, no fans, windows without safety grill, seats without even a cushion, dirty toilets and floors, corrupt TTEs, obsolete rolling stock, crumbling tracks, malfunctioning signal systems.

All the benefits of the Raj. The works.

Times change

Strangely, Shri Datta-Ray thinks that the removal of the viceregal saloon means ‘trains have been downgraded,’ and it is ‘likely that so have the rails and supporting infrastructure.’ Maybe, Datta-Ray should look up the meaning of non-sequitur.

Viceregal saloons were removed from Indian trains, because the successor to the British Viceroy uses a jet aircraft.

Plus the egalitarian impulse asserting itself. Notice the steady increase in ‘General Compartments’? Add voter-orientation. Instead of catering to an odd full-fare passenger in luxury class, it is more profitable to look after millions of economy class passengers.

Surrounded by servants, positions acquired by loot, power by massacres, the surviving elite pine for the age gone by. (Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers, image source and courtesy - allposters.com). Click for source image.

Surrounded by servants, positions acquired by loot, power by massacres, the surviving elite pine for the age gone by. (Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers, image source and courtesy – allposters.com). Click for source image.

Clearly, the focus during the British Raj was more on the comforts of the extracting elites, rather than on the economically declining masses. No wonder, ‘the main platform at Howrah used to be ablaze with the movers and shakers of the world.’

Metalosaurus

Railway engines that Sunanda K.Datta-Ray so lovingly talks about, were decrepit steam engines that were left by the British Raj.

Only in India. Iron hulks that clanked and wheezed their way to oblivion. Elephants were used for ‘handshunting’ – as shunting engines were not available. Sometimes humans too. Ramshackle steam engines pulled collapsing bogies, over crumbling bridges, on tracks that needed replacement. All this on trains that were late – and engines of corruption.

Life of leisure, massacre, extortion, servants, luxury, it is not surprising that some are nostalgic for that exploitative past. ((Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers. Image source and courtesy - collectorsprints.com). Click for source image.

Life of leisure, massacre, extortion, servants, luxury, it is not surprising that some are nostalgic for that exploitative past. ((Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers. Image source and courtesy – collectorsprints.com). Click for source image.

Seen from below, the railway underbelly was quite unlike Sunanda’s rose-tinted view from railway colonies.

Losers’ lament

Old elites, shoved aside after undue ceremony, isolate and magnify ‘consequences of mismanagement’ in post-colonial India. Diluting achievements of post-colonial India, the old elites confuse the legacy of ‘a creaking bullock cart packed with diseased and malnourished people’ that modern India inherited from the British Raj. Reluctantly, they admit the reality, of ‘an India trundling to the moon.’

As if the preceding ‘management’ was superior. India’s new élite, powered by voter-pandering and industrial oligarchies, is the current flavor of ‘mismanagement.’ It has overseen India climb out of the hell-hole of British Raj.

Step-by-excruciating-step – an unparalleled feat in world history.

A British magistrate 'surrounded' by 'supplicant' natives. How the British Empire 'brought' civilization to India? (Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers. Image source and courtesy - books.google.com). Click for source publication.

A British magistrate ‘surrounded’ by ‘supplicant’ natives. How the British Empire ‘brought’ civilization to India? (Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers. Image source and courtesy – books.google.com). Click for source publication.

Old vs New

The earlier ‘management’, made-up of British overlords and Indian ‘sepoys’, releases a steady drip of deprecatory commentary. Now stripped of privilege, preferences, privacies, built at the expense of cornered and huddled Indian masses, the Indo-British élite has seen itself decline into obscurity and inconsequential.

Left to maunder over their decline, the discarded élite fall back on evaporating nostalgia, using  a ‘manufactured’ past, for running down a ‘better’ India. Taking aim at present pock-marked India, against a ‘doomsday’ tomorrow is always an easy shot.

As Hindu, Muslim and Sikh tigers tore each other, departing British rulers hoped that they will be called back soon - as 'Only The British' could 'rule' over India. (The Rope Trick. Artist: Leslie Illingworth. Published in Punch Magazine - 28 May 1947; Source and courtesy - punchcartoons.com). Click for image source.

As Hindu, Muslim and Sikh tigers tore each other, departing British rulers hoped that they will be called back soon – as ‘Only The British’ could ‘rule’ over India. (The Rope Trick. Artist: Leslie Illingworth. Published in Punch Magazine – 28 May 1947; Source and courtesy – punchcartoons.com). Click for image source.

Especially compared to the horrors of the British Raj.

India’s ‘success’ – Another Round of Hosanas to Great Britain

August 9, 2010 6 comments

Indians are in love with their colonial past. Colonial buildings are getting gold-plated. Colonialists contemptuous of India are getting memorials.

Why did the Great British document not protect the Pakistanis, Patelbhai?

Why did the Great British document not protect the Pakistanis, Patelbhai?

India romances of the Raj

It will shortly be 63 years of British departure from India. Indians seems to be in love with their colonial past. Colonial buildings are getting gold-plated. Colonialists who had contempt for India are getting memorials.

Colonial legacies like Indian railways, the biggest pile of steel scrap in the world in 1947, after modernization, renovation, expansion of 60 years is now being credited to the British. Indians are tripping over each other to account for the British contribution to Indian success.

Even where not due.

The British gift

Aakar Patel, a columnist for Mint newspaper (a JV between Hindustan Times and WSJ), a newspaper editor who has written a few books, writes,

The ritual murder of Pakistani polity by the Pakistani army (Democracy in Pakistan By Olle Johansson, Sweden; courtesy - blackcommentator.com.).

The ritual murder of Pakistani polity by the Pakistani army. (Democracy in Pakistan By Olle Johansson, Sweden; courtesy – blackcommentator.com.). Click for larger image.

India has a constitution; Pakistan has editions. These are the various Pakistani constitutions: 1935 (secular), 1956 (federal), 1962 (dictatorial), 1973 (parliamentary), 1979 (Islamic), 1999 (presidential), 2008 (parliamentary). Why do they keep changing and searching? Muslims keep trying to hammer in Islamic bits into a set of laws that is actually quite complete. This is the Government of India Act of 1935, gifted to us by the British.

Kashmiris have it, and perhaps at some point they will learn to appreciate its beauty. (via What ails Kashmir? The Sunni idea of ‘azadi’ – Columns – livemint.com).

Aakar Patel implies that the Indian Constituent Assembly counts for nothing. The Constituent Assembly, which included at least 50% of the Indian political leadership and their work over  25,000 man-hours, amount to nothing, follows from Aakar Patel’s ‘thinking’. Or the Indian contribution to the making of the Government of India Act of 1935, itself.

Aakar Patel’s operating credo seemingly is “all credit to the British”. Deficiency in self-esteem, Mr.Patel. Or just plain, healthy contempt for all Indians? Patelbhai’s obsession with crediting the British, completely escapes my understanding.

Apart from being factually incorrect.

Documents do not make a country work! People do, Mr.Patel!! (Cartoon by Sabir Nazar; Courtesy - www.dailytimes.com.pk.).

Documents do not make a country work! People do, Mr.Patel!! (Cartoon by Sabir Nazar; Courtesy – http://www.dailytimes.com.pk.).

Illogical hai, Patelbhai

Not just incorrect. Illogical too!

The same British, gave the same document to the Pakistan also. To India and to how many other colonies in the world, I have never counted.

This ‘gift of the British’ to us Indians is a public document. If it’s value is so apparent, why have others not been able to take advantage of it,  मान्यवर पटेल-भाई manyavar Patelbhai? The wonder is not any document. It is in making it work.

Aakar Patel cannot see the contradiction.

Talk is cheap

Not only incorrect and illogical. Immaterial too!

What matters to Indians are not declarations of belief – but hard, real actions. In the words of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, ‘what counts is conduct, not belief’. American declaration of independence talked of ‘all men are created equal’ and promptly became the biggest importer of slaves in the history of the world.

For how long will our glitterati, chatterati, papparazzi, intelligentsia, cognoscenti, continue with this bilge.

Look at the British record

For a realistic assessment of the British ‘capability’ to govern, let us look at British misrule in Britain itself – in this post.

How could super-power Britain spiral down to bankruptcy, in less than 70 years, after WWII. If their ideas of governance and administration were so good, why could they not save themselves from this slide in fortunes? British ‘capabilities’ in areas of technology, industrial management, academia stands naked and exposed.

The problem with British polity! (Cartoon by Morten Moreland; courtesy - timesonline.co.uk.).

The problem with British polity! (Cartoon by Morten Moreland; courtesy – timesonline.co.uk.).

Let us keep this aside, completely, the subject of British misrule in India in this post.

British misrule in India has been the subject of countless writers, journalists, analysts. Equally there have been numerous ‘studies’ about British ‘contribution’ to India’s progress.

It is the British mindset itself that may need examination to understand this decline!


Oz cops under scanner over porn, racist emails – Rest of World – World – The Times of India

Truth hurts, huh? This Indian cartoon got Australian goat!

Truth hurts, huh? This Indian cartoon got Australian goat!

About 100 Australian police are being investigated for circulating racist and pornographic emails via the internal police email system, and one officer involved in the scandal has committed suicide, a top official said on Thursday.

The probe in Victoria state follows an independent citizens group report last week … accusing the department of having a “culture of racism.”

Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland acknowledged at the time that some officers were racist but said they were a small minority … the material involved a variety of offensive themes, including pornographic and sexist material … none of it was illegal but that all of it was offensive and in breach of department policy.

He would not confirm whether any of the racist material referred to Africans or Indians … the target of violence in Victoria state and have criticized police conduct in recent months. The Age newspaper reported that the investigation centered on a graphic image of a non-Caucasian man being tortured.

Overland confirmed that a police officer who committed suicide earlier this week … Tony Vangorp, 47, tendered his resignation on Friday and returned to the police station Monday night and shot himself. Overland said Vangorp had not been responsible for any racist emails. (via Oz cops under scanner over porn, racist emails – Rest of World – World – The Times of India).

Stand up and take the responsibility

It is a tragic that a low-level police officer, Tony Vangorp paid with his life – for essentially, criminal neglect and attitudes of the authorities. Tony Vangorp is possibly a modern-day version of Breaker Morant.

CNC Machines to Soviet Union

1982, Height of the US-USSR rivalry, under President Ronald Reagan. Japan was predicted to replace USA as the economic power. Toshiba, of Japan and Kongsberg Vapenfabrikk, Norway’s largest defense contractor, sold some multi-axis CNC machines to Russia – banned under COCOM rules, to which Japan was a signatory.

Details of this sale became known in 1987. Toshiba, President Sugiichiro Watari and Toshiba Chairman Shoichi Saba resigned soon after the affair became public. ”We have a big responsibility as the parent company,” the departing chairman said. ”We feel responsible for having troubled society.” reported the New York Times. Saba said, “must take personal responsibility for not creating an atmosphere throughout the Toshiba group that would make such activity unthinkable, even in an independently run subsidiary.”

Not some junior level clerk.

Shastri and Indian Railways

Lal Bahadur Shastri

Lal Bahadur Shastri

Post-colonial Railways system in India was the biggest scrap heap in India. Accidents were a regular feature – but naturally. The colonial practice was to blame the lower most employee, and tar the native workers as being lazy and slip-shod. The Brown Sahibs, continued with this practice, even after the British departed. Till, one day, one man stood up and said I am responsible. That man happened to be Lal Bahadur Shastri. From that day, the Indian Railways started improving – to become a low-cost, high safety transport system in the world.

Australian authorities have been consistently covered up the incidents, fudged and hid data, minimized the problem – and went into ritualistic denial.

To what end?

What’s right with Indian bureaucracy

April 29, 2009 1 comment

The bureaucrats shift the blame on the politicians

The bureaucrats shift the blame on the politicians

Bhave resigned from the IAS in 1996, to take up what was then seen as a rather low-profile job — to create India’s first share depository, even though he had the option of going there on deputation. “The job needed full-time commitment from me and from the team I was recruiting. How would I get it, if I did not burn my boats myself?” he says. (via Lunch with BS: C B Bhave).

Colonial institutions

The RBI, the IAS and the IFS are three services which have remained colonial and have a complete choke on Indian policy framework.  There is something about their structures which is not allowing them to shed their colonialism. The Railways have changed – as have many Governement organizations like Public Sector banks, Air India-Indian Airlines, etc.

And this extract confirms the conclusions made by 2ndlook and posted 1 year ago.

RBI, IAS and IFS

On April 1st, 1934, while the ‘Squeeze India’ campaign was under execution – choreographed by Montagu Norman, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill (some sickness … some racism) Lord Willingdon, India’s banking authority was set up.

The objective of setting up RBI – this colonial money authority, was to devise a policy structure for creating a ‘money famine’ needed by colonial British masters. From that April Fool’s day till now, RBI character has not changed. RBI resorts to creating these money famines every few years – even today. The last RBI ‘money famine’ in 1996 saw inter-corporate interest rates shoot to 40% – and a recession that lasted for 4 years.

The IAS (a successor to the colonial ICS) and the Planning Commission are the other two. The IFS has been pre-occupied with diplomatically engaging the West, fixated with Pakistan, while India’s relations in neighbourhood are at a historic low. But the English speaking, Indian bureaucracy is another matter. Having dragged India to the bottom of global corruption pervasiveness ratings, they cover their owns misdeeds, under the ‘umbrella’ of the neta. This is one colonial institution that India has tried digesting, without succes. IAS (ICS during colonial times) a venal, corrupt cadre, has tied up India into knots – which have taken us decades to even start disentangling.

Compare the successful bureaucracies

Compare that with the brilliant track record of modern Indian regulators and organizations like the SEBI, TRAI. Or even the IPS. India has the lowest prison population in the world – and also the lowest police-to-population ratio.

Till 1990-95 Indian stock trading was largely done done through the open outcry system, physical paper settlements, long settlement periods – and rampant manipulation. Indian stock trading systems was a closed club – and did not attract any serious investors.

Between, 1900-1995, SEBI, NSE, BSE and NSDL designed and managed the transition from the physical platform with the open outcry system to a complete electronic trading platform of the NSE and BSE.

BSE Logo

NSE Logo

Today, the BSE/NSE trading system is the most advanced in the world – in terms of trade volumes, transaction volumes and automation.

By 2000, India had less than 4 crore phones. Most of the 100 crore (1billion) Indians were unconnected – and disconnected from the world. Governments monopolies, BSNL and MTNL, ruled the roost. By 2000, India had less than 4 crore phones. Most of the 100 crore (1billion) Indians were unconnected – and disconnected from the world. Governments monopolies, BSNL and MTNL, ruled the roost.

By 2001, the BJP led Government came to power. The telecom regulator in a series of bold moves, changed policies – and equations. Tariffs declined by nearly 5000% – from roughly 50 cents to 1 cent per minute. User base ballooned to 20 crores – from 4 crores. In 7 years more telecom users were added than in the previous 70 years. For the first time, the poor in India are beginning to benefit from technology.

It took a non-Congress Government in 1977 to change the face of Indian Railways. Prof.Madhu Dandavate, the Railway Minister in the 1977 Janata Government started the railway renaissance in India. 3rd class railway travel was abolished. Wooden-slat seats were abolished. Cushioned 2nd class seating system was made minimum and standard. Train time tables were re-configured. Reservation systems improved. Railways started getting profitable.

Smear the neta

Smear the neta

The de-colonization of Indian Railways began effectively in 1977 – 30 years after British departure. Symbolically, that was also the year that the Rail Museum was set up. The progress after that has been remarkable. Today for a US$5, an Indian can travel for a 1000 km.

All this when only 25% of Indians travel by rail at least once a year.

Smear the neta

From colonial times, the Indian neta has been a favorite target of smear campaigns, innuendo and propaganda. Colonial administration in India worked hard to undermine the credibility of the Indian ‘neta’ – for obvious reasons. Colonial bureaucrats (and their successors, the IAS) covered their incompetence and corruption with this lopsided image of the neta. Indians politicians are possibly as corrupt as any others in the world.

‘What use is a heritage building if not even 10 people visit it?’-The Times of India

February 23, 2009 2 comments

Already, the existing list of 675 heritage structures in a developing city like Mumbai is way too long. Look, the Taj Mahal is clearly a symbol of heritage, maybe the Agra Fort is too. But if you were to include 1,000 buildings on Agra’s heritage list you would stop the development of that city.

A heritage structure only acquires value if at least 10 people from the nearby ward visit it every day. If not even 10 people from the same ward go to see it, what use is an old building? People go to Crawford Market to buy fruits and vegetables, they use CST to commute, not to gaze at the architecture. I am not implying that these should be demolished to make way for a mall or a 100-storey building but Mumbai needs development, not heritage.

…  London has 500,000 heritage structures while Scotland has 46,000. But they are not growing economies like India. And, in 8any case, must we do what everybody is doing? (via ‘What use is a heritage building if not even 10 people visit it?’-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India).

Endlich …

Like many slave cultures of the past, Britain too is caught in the cross beams of history. More than half a million heritage structures is being effete, decadent and declining. It means giving up. Finito. Completo. Terminato. Endlich. Eindig. ändlig. They are preserving their yesterdays, as they have given up on ever being able to make a better tommorrow.

Jairaj Pathak is right. Very right.

India’s missing monuments

How come there are no Indian equivalents to the pyramids or a coliseum? Why did India never build a Great Wall? Where is the Indian Parthenon? Why are there no great palace complexes? How is it that that there are no Indic mausoleums? Where is India’s Forbidden City?

The Pyramids, The Coliseum, The Great Wall, were all monuments that were raised by slave societies. To impress the slave population? India has no such monuments because India had no slave populations to build such showpieces – and no slaves to impress.

Show case cities are a anti-poor – and a symbol of exploitation. Whether these are in Communist Moscow or Capitalist New York, show case cities are a symbol of slavery and exploitation. Indians did not much care for show case cities, starting with Tughlak’s Tuglakabad and Akbar’s Fatehpur Sikri, were seen as a lost cause.

Classical India

Valmiki’s Ramayana, is breathless with wonder, at Lanka – and makes no mention of ‘wonders of Ayodhya’ as a city. So, shining and gleaming cities were out of place in India – but Indians did associate show case cities with slave-societies of Asuras.

Mahabharata has interesting insight on man-nature conflict – a cautionary tale about the Khandava dahan, and the building of Indraprastha, which the Pandavas lost very quickly. The Pandavas, having secured a favorable award from Dhritarashtra, in their inheritance dispute, decided to set up a new capital.

A reluctant architect, the divine Maya, was pressured, persuaded and influenced to build Indraprastha. The site chosen for the new capital city – a forest, Khandava. Overcome by their hubris, the Pandavas, burnt down the entire forest – and the animals inhabiting the forest. In place of the forest came up the gleaming new city of Indraprastha.

All the kings were called to marvel at the new city. And in her pride, Draupadi mocked at Duryodhana – a guest. To avenge this mockery, Duryodhana challenged Yudhithira for a game of chess (instead of a war) – which Yudhishthira promptly lost. They lost their new city – and were sent, into exile by Duryodhana. Lessons duly learnt, the Pandavas after the completion of their exile, asked for five villages. After winning the War Of Mahabharat, they ruled from the ancient capital of Hastinapur. No more gleaming cities for them.

Cities in Indian history

Cut to Alexander.

Alexander’s campaign to drum up alliances, with Indian kings on the borders of his Persian empire, did not yield much gold or wealth. Unlike the description of Persian cities, the description of Indian cities in all the Greek accounts, is of very simple and plain Indian cities. Not one Indian city is extolled for its beauty, or its buildings, palaces or temples.

What gives?

Unlike Alexander’s experience of poor pickings in India, the Greek image of India, in history, was different. There were wild tales about Indian ants, big as foxes and jackals, that mined gold. These were tales related by Pliny, Herodotus, Strabo, Arrian – partly, based on reports from Megasthenes. And the very same Greek sources show that with each victory, at kingdom after kingdom, Alexander gained little in terms of gold. Unlike many other subsequent raiders.

What gives?

War elephants

War elephants

Extant Indian society

Three elements of the Indian economic system were unique till the 19th century – property ownership by the commoners, widespread ownership of gold and absence of slavery (defined as capture, trade and forced labour by humans – without compensation).

The Indian social structure in pre-Alexandrian Indian had widespread gold and property ownership. With complete absence of slavery, wages could also rise above subsistence levels. This restricted the wealth of Indian rulers – and thus impressive monuments, buildings and palaces are rare or non-existent in pre-medieval India. Thus Indian cities were plain and simple. Royal treasuries were hence, meagre.

Colonial Indian rule dispossessed many Indians of their property – and concentrated wealth in the hands of the few – the Thakurs and the Zamindars. Indians were dispossessed of their gold in the Squeeze Indian Campaign of 1925-1945 – started by Churchill and Montagu Norman and continued by Neville Chamberlain.

Urbanisation in modern India …

Mumbai wants to become another Shanghai, says ex-Chief Minister, Vilas Rao Deshmukh. This aspiration is something that is mostly referred in a derisive manner by others – thankfully.

What Indian cities need instead, is to learn from the home grown examples. For instance, the Mumbai urban train transport system. For a monthly cost of Rs.70-200 (US$2-US$5), people in Mumbai can travel any number of times, in relative discomfort. It is a safe mode of transport – unlike the legacy rail system of the Colonial Britain, which India modernised over 35 years. Accidents on this system happen due to its popularity – overcrowded trains. It is also profitable – and devoid of subsidies. Similar metros (not in scale or traffic though) have come up in Kolkatta and New Delhi.

What Indian cities needs are an Indian idiom – to solve the problems of these Indian cities. Will Indian planners deliver! Jairaj Pathak at least is on the right track.

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