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Delayed flights, trains dent claims of moving towards Ram Rajya

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By Sidharth Mishra

In the midst of Ayodhya blitzkrieg on all the media platforms, the last thing Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have wanted images of air travellers sprawled on the taxiway of Mumbai airport and having dinner provided by the airlines. The images project penury in its worst form. Even the ‘langars’ (mass meals) meant for the homeless and poor outside the cremation ground of Nigambodh Ghat in Delhi present a better picture.

Projecting all round development and good governance is integral to Prime Minister’s Ayodhya sojourn. The image strategists for the Modi government have been projecting his rule as a journey towards Ram Rajya, the ideal state for the benefit of people. Thinkers and political leaders in India have venerated the Ram Rajya as the ideal to be striven for, and it resonates as the ideal polity in the minds of most Indians.

Now what the train and the air travellers have been facing in the national Capital and other towns in north India is certainly not an iota of a reflection on Ram Rajya. The other image which must have caused much cavity in Modi’s claim of move to Ram Rajya was an IndiGo passenger -- identified as Sahil Kataria – being arrested after he assaulted a pilot while he was making an announcement inside the aircraft that the flight to Goa waiting to take off at Delhi was further delayed. The incident, in which a woman flight attendant broke down and asked the passenger how he could be so aggressive, took place a week ago.

Add to this were the posts on erstwhile twitter (now X) by film actors Ranvir Shorey, Radhika Apte and some others. From their posts, it became clear that it were not the fog in the national Capital which was to be alone blamed for the misery. Lackadaisical attitude of the airlines too contributed. Rattled by the two videos of passengers’ misery going viral and also the posts by the celebrities that the Civil Aviation ministry woke up and then announced, what the Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindhia called, a slew of measures.

Fogs in Delhi and other parts of north India are an annual climatic phenomenon and the minister would have done better by keeping his ‘slew of measures’ in ready in advance rather than implementing them as an afterthought after the image of the civil aviation sector in our country took a global beating.

Same fate awaited the rail passengers travelling in and out of the national Capital. Just giving the high-sounding names like Swatantra Senani, Vande Bharat, Namo Vande and such more did not mean that rail travel in India had either turned punctual or comfortable.

Last week newspapers reported that due to fog as many as 30 trains in a day got delayed. This despite the tall claims of a very ‘technologically savvy’ Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav claiming that the rail travel in India was one of the best globally. It’s not just the delay but also the lack of sensitivity towards the discomfort of the passengers which have greatly compromised the image of the Modi government moving towards Ram Rajya.

A newspaper reported that passengers at New Delhi Railway Station milled on the platforms like ants delayed trains failed to clear the rush. Add to this was the lack of information forcing them to stick to the cold floor and open environs of the station battling the night chill.

As we enter the 24th year of 21st century, making claims of air travel passenger traffic doubling, number of trains quadrupling and still having images of they being sprawled over on the tarmac and platforms keeps India’s image as a poor country, howsoever we may claim of moving towards Ram Rajya.

 

(First Published in The Morning Standard)

 

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