It was a 'pathshala' with a difference. Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's lecture to a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students left them highly impressed as he spoke on the magical turnaround of the Indian Railways in New Delhi on Saturday.
"Overall it was a great case study and experience," said Edward O'Donell, one of the 30 students of MIT, after listening to the railway minister at the National Rail Museum.
"The minister and his officers gave us a presentation with minute details of the Indian Railways. From a loss-making institution to a profit-making public transport system - it's a great case study.
"Mr Prasad's lecture helped us understand the complexities of the system and how he managed to overcome it. While attracting more commuters, he has managed to reduce the passenger fares. It is noteworthy," O'Donell said after the lecture.
The railway minister has so far given lectures to students of Harvard University, Virginia University, Wharton University, University of Texas as well as the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
"These students are very talented and I shared with them the same experience that I had shared with other university students. My pathsala was liked by them. They were very satisfied," he said.
"Honesty, commitment and proper utilisation of human resources are the three keys of my success and I told them so. They asked me questions and were satisfied with the answers," he told reporters.
He said 1.4 million railway officials have been working together to face all challenges and "it is because of their attitude and honesty that we are a successful unit".
"We have a vision and all are working in that direction."
Antonio Sosa, another MIT student, said: "It was great on the part of the minister to give us one hour of his time. For me, the railways case study was just not one subject. It gave me an idea of the complexities not only of Indian Railways but of the whole country and how they are achieving success amid all this."
He said his friends had asked the minister about the railways' links to ports, on the management of tracks, the balance between profit making and social responsibility and the condition of his home state Bihar.
Asked if they managed to understand Lalu's mix of Hindi and English, they replied in the affirmative.
"Before beginning the lecture, he said that his English is not very good but we managed to understand it. His officers helped us in some cases. His Hindi-laced English was interesting," O'Donell added.