Transforming the Indian Railways is the next big challenge undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a scenario of declining staff morale and plunging finances of the state-owned transporter, Modi has convened a three-day brainstorming session with rail employees to generate “innovative but practical” ideas to enable the transporter to emerge as a “world class organisation”.
At a conclave titled ‘Rail Vikas Shivir’ (Rail Development Camp) that will begin on November 25, the Prime Minister will speak to 400 rail employees and interact with 20,000 others through video conferencing to generate ideas that will form the basis of “future road maps”.
Five hundred “unique ideas” are expected to be generated at the workshop through a combination of “crowd-sourcing”, ideation meets and through consultation with experts and customers.
Several committees, including the Ratan Tata-headed ‘Kaya Kalp’ (transformation) committee have and are continuing to work on a makeover plan for the cash-strapped transporter, but this is the first time that the Prime Minister has decided to personally monitor such activities.
Rail development has been high on the agenda of the Prime Minister who, shortly after assuming charge in 2014, announced the ‘Diamond Quadrilateral’ plan to connect major metropolitan centres with high speed trains that will run at speeds of 300-350 kilometre per hour.
In alliance with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Indian Railways have been working on plans to build India’s first high speed train corridor connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad.
In his letter of September 19, chairman, railway board, AK Mital, instructed general managers of railway zones to constitute 27-member teams to run the “idea generation process”, tasking them to prepare and present 10-15 “unique ideas” from among the eight themes that the railway board has forwarded before the Prime Minister’s event.
One of the identified themes enlists plans to reduce the transporter’s operational costs by 10% in five years, while another aims to define “technology shifts” that the Indian Railways should make in the next decade for modernisation.