Vantage point

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Laloo Prasad Cuppola?

More often than not, when someone becomes Railway Minister, the first few days are spent announcing new unviable trains. With Laloo taking over I was expecting a Darbhang-Madhepura Shatabdi Express, or a Chhapra Rajdhani Express.

But the dude, as usual has shocked the people by taking up an entirely unexpected issue. He is introducing "khullars" in trains! He also plans to introduce matthacola as a drink on railway stations!!

The khullar idea is not very original. I remember such an idea being floated by another Bihari RailMin when i was a kid. However the idea has everyone, from the opposition to the media to the intelligensia to the railway officials wondering what to say.

On the face of it, the khullar idea is good for the following reasons -

1. It is environment-friendly.

2. It will provide employment to hundreds of potters.

The criticism could be that it may not be very hygeinic. In which case, people may carry their own cups. Another criticism could be about the price, but I am not sure whether khullars in such a large quantity are really more expensive than paper/plastic.

Of course we have the "scam" attack. A man who could pull a scam while procuring fodder, can make millions off khullars.

Now the matthacola idea. Again not bad.

By doing this, Laloo has cleverly mananged to deflect attention from real issues, like safety, maintenance of railway stations, modernisation etc. Prepare for the Bihar-isation of the already ramshackle Indian Railways.

p.s- you may get those shatabdis and rajdhanis after all, when the rail budget is announed a couple of weeks later.