Citizens' Issues
Yet another railway accident, but the authorities are not bothered—and safety plans are off-track; local, low-cost solutions are ignored

We have not had an accident-free year for a long time now. The Indian Railways gives administrative solutions to technical problems and finds technical reasons to escape the administration's accountability. Local, low-cost solutions already in the possession of the Indian Railways are never used

Another railway accident has taken place in West Bengal—an express train from Guwahati derailed and collided into a local train on 31st July (Sunday), killing one person and injuring at least 38 people. 

The so called "vital" signal systems were in operation, with innumerable staff maintaining the same. But when "non-vital", non-signal equipment like our own Raksha Kavach has been ready for more than a decade now, the RDSO (the Research Design and Standards Organization) keeps on conducting umpteen number of unending proving tests and trials, treating it as a standalone system. But the Raksha Kavach was just an additional layer to the existing system. It was supposed to augment, not replace a vital system. The Kavach was just supposed to plug holes in our railway system, at a low cost. But the goalposts keep getting shifted every time the intelligent device proves itself; it becomes a case of ego massage to try to get the authorities to approve the installation of this system.

But why is that? One ‘unfortunate’ aspect it that the Raksha Kavach is from India, from another railwayman. As per the current line of official reasoning, how can a colleague do the some thing that the railway authorities have failed to do all these years? Again, the Kavach comes at a low cost. The Railway Budget cannot build its empire if funds are slashed for indigenous anti-collision devices (ACDs). And since the Kavach is not of foreign origin, railway officials cannot get foreign junkets for training. On the top of this, this ACD technology can be a huge threat to the grandiose plans of the concerned department to go on an import spree, all in the name of safety.

There is one more serious structural deficiency which has not been brought out in public till now.

Raksha Kavach or the ACD is only one victim of this deficiency. Over the last 50 years, the Indian Railways has not produced any thing worthwhile from the RDSO, which is its premier R&D technical centre, unique in the world with all disciplines under one roof and dedicated with an annual budget of more than
Rs30 crore to Rs40 crore, spread over a beautiful colony in Lucknow. No one has seriously considered to identify what is ailing the RDSCO and correcting the same. The last attempt was by the late Madhavrao Scindia, who, as Railway Minister, prepared a restructuring report for the RDSO, which looked at ways to improve its working. As luck would have it, I was the principal contributor to the effort at that time, in 1986.

Maybe it is time the general public also know the real problem debilitating the railway from getting out of its rut.

For railway personnel, an accident and determination of cause of the mishap is always a cause for provocation; invariably, battle lines are drawn between departments.

Rarely is the truth revealed. The technical fights are taken to the hollowed portals of the RDSO too, which is supposed to be a technical body, but there too, the same field attitudes prevail.

Logical updating of criteria for evaluating safety of track-vehicle interaction and safety certification process by RDSO for clearing new rolling stock have never been done.

The case of the CRT wagon which got introduced despite poor oscillation and trial results can never be forgotten. A number of derailments—along with the huge cost entailed, over a decade, finally forced the powers-that-be to dump all these thousands of wagons. The way track engineers too fight not to budge from their poor track standards in earlier years, forced a director for wagons in the RDSO, to introduce BOX-N ( a wagon with high un-sprung mass and hard riding on tracks to wear out rails), to "destroy" tracks, which he told me, with a wink, at that time. Then track engineers went about introducing 90UTS rails. The expensive games our people pay cost the nation huge sums of money.

Confrontations, arguments and debates do shake up the system; but these should not necessarily be done at a high cost to the system and with bad blood.

Frequency domain analysis and advanced mathematical modelling for simulating the conditions which are not possible to cover by the limited few kilometres of tests with limited parametric variations, never got off the ground. Safety case analysis is less than satisfactory by international standards. Resistance was and is phenomenal.

The core problem is that RDSO is that it is trying to function as the technical authority with no training except for field training for its incumbents occupying and warming the chairs, thereby becoming experts—who somehow spend time to go back to the field to seek career opportunities. True, none joined service to become professors or scientists or mathematical geniuses. 

The day you wear the hat of a director, within 24 hours, you hold the power of veto on anything that moves in the RDSO, which concerns your department. Inter-disciplinary problems are sought to be solved purely with departmental bias.

Individuals who come there from organised services are excellent and brilliant but ambitious too, naturally. But their eyes are to reach the positions they desire and aspire to be back in the railways.

Meantime, the waiting tenure in RDSO is spent as best as the personnel at the centre can—some learn quite a lot—some contribute significantly within the limitations, but everyone wants to get back.

Safety issues are dealt in the most unprofessional manner. The typical approach is that the Indian Railways gives administrative solutions to technical problems and finds technical reasons to escape administration's accountability.

In restructuring the system to allow for true technology cycles to take off, it was proposed that the officers who opt to join RDSO should accept a one-way ticket —that is, they do get 30% to 50% higher emoluments, performance-based bonuses and creation of scientific cadre grades and in situ promotions. But first, they have to go through a rigorous IIT-based one-year course leading to a diploma/post graduate qualification in basic mathematical modelling and research tools, losing also the departmental tag, remaining a railway man only, without departmental administrative bias, anymore.

The institution should become an autonomous body under the control of the transport ministry, but grants for running the same should be granted by the Indian Railways. This would prevent any further influence of bosses in the Railways riding roughshod over the work of the RDSO.

It may be argued that then the RDSO will become another ghost CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) lab with the same level of zero performance and lots of privileges with an easy life. It is possible. But the hope is that since with basic field experience of, a say a decade, people are brought
into the system, the love & commitment built into the officer for the railways, and the sacrifice he has to make to quit his own service, may all add up to a renewed vigour to push the boundaries of knowledge to contribute to the working of the railways.

Further, all the commissioners of railway safety can then belong to this autonomous technical regulatory authority, and also be chosen from the members of this body.

Like all things in our country, we may have to again give ourselves a chance. But there no future for the current safety mechanism, which has proven to be a hopeless structure.

When your door to return to normal railway operations is shut and by attitude, you choose and excel in the work of the advancement of safety and technology improvements, and your advice carries the authority of an autonomous independent body, the truth has a chance.

Truly outstanding officers who want to really improve do get stifled in RDSO. The departmental games each one officer plays with each other makes it a
zero-sum game.

We end up producing hot air and safety & technology become victims of product sellers’ lobbies.

Where everyone believes his own version as the truth, the truth dies.

We refuse to allow the CRS (commissioner of railway safety) reports of an accident inquiry to be made public. Why not? A publicly conducted inquiry, if the entire report is public, can analyse what led the authority to its conclusions. It is unfair to the authority to take all the flak, without knowing what exactly was the basis for conclusions drawn; if baseless conclusions are seen to be arrived at, let the stupidity be exposed.

But the technical wing of the RDSO is consulted by CRS, by which he forms his reports. But like everything else in our system, bureaucracy rules here,

Again the bane of our world is working in secrecy.

Lives lost in accidents did not trouble the mandarins in the high echelons over decades—the Indian Railways chugs on, again with the same repetitive platitudes.

It is amazing that we tend to ruminate over each incident for 24 hours, except the platitudes and then keep waiting for the next accident to happen.

(Mr Rajaram is the former Chairman & Managing Director of the Konkan Railway Corporation and inventor of the Skybus).

User

COMMENTS

Raman

6 years ago

The problelm is that Mr Rajaram has become wise quite late in the day. Why did he not apply these standards for the Sky Bus which he 'invented" ? One person was killed in that experiment and the abominable structure still looms dark over Madgaon station. Where was all this wisdom then?

REPLY

shraboni chakrabarty

In Reply to Raman 6 years ago

Funny how this comment popped up just as I was going to post a comment.
Anyway, now I am going to say something different about this false and malicious statement.
The Skybus accident was undoubtedly tragic. But it is short-sighted to write off an excellent project like the Skybus, which would have given us world class public transport at a fraction of the price paid for expensive metro projects.
This kind of sarcasm and judgmental attitude is what has kept India backward.
We need to learn, recognise and honour excellence.
shraboni

Raman

In Reply to shraboni chakrabarty 6 years ago

The comment is an Oxymoron,
I rest my case!

A BANERJEE

6 years ago

An excellent analysis which should be brought to the notice of the so called Superior Revenue Establishment of the Government of India, the status given to the exclusive domain of the railways. How many senior railway officials travel by train itself is a question. But even more relevant is the point that, the pampered lot living in the colonioal traditions of palatial residences, have no time to even make surprise visits to the station platforms to see for themselves the condition in which the millions of common Indians travel in the midst of no reliable safety systems. One thing must be done-the special status of the railways must be done away with as railways no more are the chief contributors to the central revenues. As regards the very valid issues concerning the non-performing DRDO brilliantly brought out by the author, let it be an independent body like the DRDO so that the careerists are not permitted to come on deputation for a few years to enjoy perks of foreign tripps, etc. and are made answerable for their contribution to the body of knowledge.
But all this requires a government with character and courage of conviction not bogged down by the political copulsions of coalition. This would appear to be impossible in India ever.

Shantanu Mitra takes over as CEO of Fullerton India

Shantanu has more than 30 years of experience in financial services

Shantanu Mitra-who was the deputy CEO overseeing risk management and the urban business at Fullerton India-takes over as the CEO of the company on 1 August 2011.

Shantanu joined the parent company Fullerton Financial Holdings, Singapore in early 2010 as the head of consumer risk management for consumer markets across all operational entities in various countries including India. He later also started heading the urban markets business at Fullerton India. Following the end of the term of the earlier CEO Ruben Mora, Shantanu has been elevated to the position of CEO and president of Fullerton India.

Shantanu has more than 30 years of experience in financial services, with about 20 years at Standard Chartered and Citibank where he had stints in India, Singapore and Thailand. Prior to joining Fullerton, he was senior regional risk officer, India, Middle East & Africa at Standard Chartered Bank, based in Mumbai. Shantanu began his career at Arthur Young & Co and later Moore Stephens & Co, both chartered accounting firms located in London.
Fullerton India has a widespread presence in over 325 urban and rural markets through its own branch network.

User

COMMENTS

Vishnu P

6 days ago

Hello Fulleton,

I am VISHNU i applied personal loan of 150000 bt i am not satisfied with rate of interest.

i applied for 1.5 bt the executive explains that in account 1.40 will credited and after crediting 5000 will deduct for insurance.so finally my loan amount is 1.35 lack.

and she explained that first 3 months EMI will be 5517 and after after 3 month my EMI will be 4200. but i am unable to trust with what she explained.

so kindly cancel my loan

and my loan reference no is 2375525, i m again requesting you to please cancel my loan

Executive Name: Apparana phno 9550060704


Regards
Vishnu.P
Hyd

Francis Fernandes

2 months ago

My Name is Francis and I don't hold any credit lines with Fullerton Indian but have been receiving collection calls for someone else have informed the person calling of the same but the abuses and threats dont stop which is totally impacting my mental health and even dropped a email to Fullerton but the calls are still coming in Service no - 03110341 , am looking into taking this legal for Mental harassment by Fullerton India.

Shivanand Poojari

1 year ago


Dear Mr. Poojari,

This is with reference to your email dated March 23, 2016 pertaining to the Loan account bearing 036125200029900.

We regret for the delay.

We wish to inform you that we are looking into the concerns raised by you. And will revert with the details within 4 working days i.e. March, 31 2016.

We request your co-operation and patience in the interim.

Should you have any further queries pertaining to your loan account, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected].

Thanking You
Customer Service Manager
Customer Complaint Redressal Cell (CCRC)
Fullerton India Credit Co. Ltd.


From: Shivanand Poojari [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 9:13 PM
To: CCRC
Cc: [email protected]; Namaste

Subject: Re: Fullerton India Credit Co Ltd//036125200029900//Shivanand Poojari

Still no response it's completely unheticks towards the responsibility.
wish you Happy holi to all...and enjoy long weekend.
On 18 Mar 2016 6:18 pm, "CCRC" wrote:
Dear Mr. Poojari,

This is with reference to your email dated March 18, 2016 pertaining to the Loan account bearing 036125200029900.

We wish to inform you that we are looking into the concerns raised by you. And will revert with the details within 4 working days i.e. March, 23 2016.

We request your co-operation and patience in the interim.

Should you have any further queries pertaining to your loan account, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected].

Thanking You
Customer Service Manager
Customer Complaint Redressal Cell (CCRC)
Fullerton India Credit Co. Ltd.




This e-Mail may contain proprietary and confidential information belonging to 'Fullerton Group Companies' and is sent for the intended recipient(s) only. If by addressing or transmitting error, this mail has been misdirected to you, you are requested to delete this mail immediately. You are also notified that any use, any form of re-production, dissemination, copying, disclosure, modification, distribution and/or publication of this e-Mail message, contents or it's attachment(s) other than by its intended recipient(s) is strictly prohibited. Any opinion expressed in this e-mail is that of the individual and not necessarily of the organization. Before opening attachment(s), please scan for viruses.
Respected all,

I have yet not received any intimation about my complaint, as per your mail tomorrow will be the TAT for the case. So tomorrow I need the complete solution for my case and do not expect any further TAT otherwise I would be forced to stop all the further EMIs and I have to take the case legally.

Hence, I once again request to you all please look into the matter seriously on urgent basis because I am not going to tolerate this fraud.

Thanks,

still i not yet recive any call or any solution..

RAGHUNATH DAS

4 years ago

Dear Mr.Shantanu Mitra
Fullerton India had taken bouble EMI & they are not c/f same amt for netx month. Pls c/f same & co-prating with me my Load no. is
025520200042410

Sonam

5 years ago

I need Fullerton India CEO's e mail ID

Sonam

5 years ago

I need Fullerton india CEO's e mail ID

UMESH SHETTY

5 years ago

Dear Team Are You Help Hartley ????,
Dear Team My Loan ID Is Above Given,Your Service Is Excellent But One Issues My Salary Is Crediting Every Month Dated Between 5 to 9 Please Send Your Check Every Mont 10th, Now I am Paid Rs 550/- Check Bouncing Charges,This Is Very Costly Please Help ,

umesh shetty

5 years ago

Dear Team Are You Help Hartley ????,
Dear Team My Loan ID Is Above Given,Your Service Is Excellent But One Issues My Salary Is Crediting Every Month Dated Between 5 to 9 Please Send Your Check Every Mont 10th, Now I am Paid Rs 550/- Check Bouncing Charges,This Is Very Costly Please Help ,

sharath

6 years ago

I want to contact you via e-mail

1.5 lakh post offices to be converted into banks

Telecom minister Kapil Sibal wants to reach out to the masses in the rural areas with modern banking facilities through the post offices

The humble post office is all set to undergo a radical change with a proposal to convert over 1.5 lakh post offices across the nation into full fledged banks on the anvil.

Telecom minister Kapil Sibal wants to reach out to the masses in the rural areas with modern banking facilities through the post offices. "We want to commercialise the department. We will seek a licence from the RBI to convert all our post offices into banks," Mr Sibal told PTI.

The lack of modern banking facilities in rural areas and dependence of villagers on informal sector for their credit requirements has prompted the government to work on financial inclusion by way of setting up 'postal banks'.

"The State Bank of India can't build branches all over India, but there are post offices across India. The branches are already there, so infrastructure expenditure is not required. So you can actually give banking facilities at relatively lower costs, which would be extremely beneficial to people," he said.

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