Travelling using the Mumbai local trains is an experience in itself, although not necessarily a pleasant one. I wonder(as many commentators before me already have done-to no effect), as to how our Government can afford to neglect this vital infrastructural project, which carries close to 6 million passengers DAILY (compared to New York Metro North Rails 6 Millon, Monthly), and that too in a city which contributes to almost half of India's Income Tax collections. In other words, citizens who ensure India runs are themselves being effectively grounded!
I have traveled using public transport all over the world and the efficiency of their transport systems never ceases to amaze. In almost all airports, you can catch a train/subway to go directly to the City Centre. The ride is fast, cheap and the train clean. Easy to read maps, information kiosks ensure you never get lost, and can navigate your way through even a new city. An automated announcer touchingly exhorts all passengers to 'Mind the Gap' between train and platform. In Mumbai, on the other hand, every year, thousands of people loose their lives, with many just being thrown off the train due to overcrowding. Which gap will the poor sods mind, if they don’t even reach the station platform in shipshape condition?
Truth be told, things are improving on the infrastructure front in India, albeit at a snails pace. The Quadrilateral project is almost done (at least that’s what they claim), flyovers are being built in many cities (the progress is however often, so painfully slow and citizens are so harried by the resulting traffic jams near these construction sites, that they would surely prefer that it was not built at all). Despite these snail like advances, its clear to me every time I go out of the country that the gap keeps widening, between us and them, in all respects. We are being swept further and further behind. Our once all encompassing excuse of us being a huge country just wont work now that China has shown that it can still forge ahead, despite its size and bulk.
Here’s to the day when we would start minding THIS gap!
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