Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Modi, Vande Bharat

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The Vande Bharat trains are a metaphor to the modest progress that India has achieved in the last 10 years of the Narendra Modi-led NDA rule — when the BJP-RSS ran the affairs of the nation. At present, a trial is on to run it at a speed of 160 km per hour. Modi started with a promise of Bullet trains 10 years ago. Today, it is a, “work in progress.” The average speed of the much-hailed Vande Bharat now is less than 100 km per hour. When trains in other Asian countries like China and Japan run at super high speeds, this is what we have been able to achieve so far – against a speed of 430 km per hour for China’s maglev (magnetic levitation) trains, and Japan’s bullet trains that run at 320 km per hour speed.
Vande Bharat, admittedly, is Made In India and hence India’s very own. We had been having coach factories in the initial phase of India’s Independence; namely the Chittaranjan Locomotives in Kolkata started in 1950, the Integral Coach Factory in Perambur, Chennai, set up as early as in 1955, and the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala set up in 1985. So, this is nothing new. What’s special about Vande Bharat is its modern look, nice feel and its ability to attain a relatively high speed. Speed, as such, is more linked to the strength of the rail tracks. Modernization of tracks too is a work in progress. The Modi era saw improvements in the operations of the railways, but all at a modest scale. What could have been done or achieved in 10 years is largely a work in progress, not just in the railways sector but in all other sectors too.
When Modi started his innings in 2014, he promised bullet trains as in China and Japan. The Japanese technology was requisitioned for India’s first bullet train project conceived between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The inter-state project faced several odds. All these are usual with the way this nation has been functions for decades. As such, this is not a Modi legacy. Now when Modi seeks a third term, he hides the fact that in 2014, he had sought 10 years to “change India for the better.” At this election hour, it is worth a debate as to how much change he has been able to bring about for this nation, as to boldly stake his claim to rule India for another five years. This is not to undermine the positive feel he created such as political stability that he guaranteed for the nation, or in checking terrorism, and in offering a slew of welfare steps to benefit the lower rungs of the society. However, India still has a long way to go to catch up even with China and Japan.

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