Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect

The other day a bizarre event happened on a railway track in Bihar. An electric train was passing through the station of Buxar , when as is characteristic of the place some of the passengers who wanted to get down pulled the chain. So the passenger train slammed its brakes after plodding along for a while, it came to a stop. Now the point where it came to a stop was a point on the track where there was no live overhead electricity wires to which the train’s electric engine could connect for power. Now while such short stretches of non energized tracks are common on the network, usually the train’s inherent momentum allows it to coast over these short stretches till it comes to the next energized section. In those odd cases , where the train does stop mid way , short haul diesel engines are summoned to haul the train back to the energized segment of the track.


But remember this is no other place, this is Bihar. So when the train suddenly stops in its tracks and people realize it wont start because it cannot connect to an electricity source, hundreds of passengers get off the train and push it along the tracks for a few meters till the engine’s antennae are again able to draw on electricity from the overhead wires, at which point the passengers get back to their seats and resume their journey.


Two people were traveling for a plum job interview from Mumbai to Delhi. One took the overnight Rajdhani Express while the other guy took a morning flight. The beauty of the story was that the job went to the man who traveled to Delhi by train. The man taking the flight took off late from Mumbai because of congestion at the airport, and then as it moved to land in Delhi, there was congestion there too and after hovering over the skies for a while, finding its fuel getting exhausted, the plane went and landed in Jaipur. By the time, the airline put its hapless passengers back in Delhi; it was all over for the job seeker as the interviews were over.


These two stories tell very well, the journey of India’s tryst with technology and its lopping sided development. And so we have railway jazzy coaches and electric tracks but no assured power supply and with most of the states chronically short of power, the railways are thinking of captive power plants. We have heaps of airlines which have certainly mad flying more affordable and added more flights and destinations, but flying is no longer a pleasurable exercise that it once was


Similar is the story of highways – world class cars and great models when once we had only the Ambassador, but no corresponding roads, we now have glitzy shopping malls with world class products inside but huge traffic snarls outside as there is little in terms of parking space to speak of. Then now there is a great push towards manufacturing, e governance, telephone penetration and greater internet connectivity, but a staggering shortage of electricity that does not look will go away any time soon.


It is great to see India develop and consumers and people have options and choices that were not available or if available, then were unaffordable, perhaps even a decade ago. But just as China resolved to put its infra structural back bone in place first and then open units economy to explosive growth, perhaps India should do the same if we have to avoid these bizarre stories from above. Clearly without adequate bijli, pani and sadak, the story of muscle power hauling railway trains down the track as happened in Buxar will recur … albeit in different locations and with different themes. 

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