Cruel joke by Railways

In an unprecedented manner, the Railway Ministry has ordered suspension of an examination this week – after massive protests by applicants and the burning of a train in Bihar. The process of recruitments for some 35,000 posts in non-technical popular categories would be resumed after a newly appointed panel studies grievances of the applicants to “effect remedial steps.” It was appreciable on the part of the Railway ministry to intervene and act fast; but the question is, why have things come to such a pass. This casts a shadow, again, over the efficacy of the railway board that held the examinations. The main grievance of the applicants – numbering over 1.25 crore, was the holding of a second stage examination this week after the results of the first stage was released 10 days ago. It is noted that there was a reference to only one examination in the recruitment notice issued in 2019 – and a second exam was superimposed on the applicants after the results were out. This is another reflection of the unacceptable manners in which the Railway ministry and the board function. The fact of the matter is that things are topsy-turvy for decades now in relation to Indian Railways that has an ill-reputation for its slow-moving coaches and fast-paced corruption.
Narendra Modi as Prime Minister inherited a chaotic, slow-moving railway enterprise and he hardly did anything to improve its sad plight other than introducing some run-of-the-mill steps in the past seven years. Notably, during this period, what was most noticeable was that the railway minister was changed repeatedly. The railway board is known for its hugely corrupt practices and the Railway ministry itself is in the dock – as was also amply demonstrated in the Pawan Bansal corruption case during the UPA-II term. Modi promised Bullet trains – what Japan introduced three decades ago and China later did one up on Japan with trains running on Magnetic Levitation technology. India, where the railway network was established by the British much before China had, is still archaic in its approach; speed being improved from 80 km per hour to 120 km, while China now has trains running at speeds of 500 km per hour. One can only pity the plight of the millions of educated youths who waited for two years to pass the examination and get into jobs. Their hopes were shattered within days after the results of the first test were released. This was a cruel joke. This surely is not what governance should be. In fact, it is a case of governance failure in the Railways ministry.

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