Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why E Sreedharan deserves Indian of the year Award?

I was very happy when I saw the above scene on TV . Yupz , E Sreedharan is CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2007. Pamban Bridge , Konkan Railway , Delhi Metro - Three great things that improved the quality of life for people in various parts of India .If he doesn't deserve then who else deserves this award.

No wonder , the choice was unanimous by all the judges.

Anybody like me who has participated in the mad rush for Mumbai Local trains or had a taste of various modes of transportation in Kolkata will appreciate Delhi Metro . It symbolises a new India , an India which is clean , efficient , where everything happens on time , people are friendly and helpful , where every thing is working and processes and punctuality rule. What makes it unique is not only the extensive use of technology which has permeated through the system (It should be one of the best examples of how technology can be used to improve the life of masses) but the attention that has been given to the details to make sure that the project will be a grand success and not a white elephant.

I was in Delhi when Delhi Metro was being constructed. Any manager would have been amazed at the planning behind the construction of metro because not at one place the traffic was ever disrupted that too in a country like India where the traffic gets disrupted when any politician is on the road . It was so efficiently managed. The debris was cleared away in the night at the construction sites and was also totally obstructed from the general view.One cannot actually make out that construction was going on at such a large level and at such a hectic pace.The way they made bridges overhead for the elevated tracks of metro was particularly impressive ...without any supporting structure...a scene I“ve always fascinatedly watched in hollywood movies and which I could see in front of my eyes on those cold Delhi days.

Then one day it was opened to public and travelling in metro was an experience in itself.The use of smart is a prepaid card for various denominations which enabled all the regular users a discount and also saving lot of time. Otherwise buying tickets is also a pleasant experience with many counters at the crowded stations and helpful staff. How often have you seen those dirty looks when you say that you dont have change from people behind the counter.Stations were state of art experience and all sticklers for cleanliness and user frinedly(also to physicaly challenged persons) .Escalators is a permanent feature with help close by and lifts at underground stations are also operative for old people who have difficulty in climbing the steps.

The best part was low fare and punctuality , something that may be alien to most parts of India and Indians.Communist and Socialist friends in Delhi University were happy when they see no demarcations for classes . Whole of it is centrally air conditioned and open to all walks of society , another aspect away from middle or lower classes may be one of the reasons due to which communists in Kerala are vouching for a metro in Kochi now.

When metro was being constructed , I was attending a usual cribbing session with one of my MBA classmates.

CM: You Know X , he wrote in his final placement resume that he went and did such and such in CRY
Me: Isn't that true? So What ?
CM: You know , X went to CRY only to get a bullet point in the resume.
Me: It doesn't matter
CM: How come yaar? When people do things like this with ulterior motives , we should not encourage it
Me: But yaar , Whatever is his objective he did some real good work and it really helped CRY , is it?
CM: Yupz , but still when people are doing it without genuine concern .........blaaahhh ................blaaahhh
Me: Yaar , Both of us also got chances to work for CRY , we didn't go .I was busy with doing "*****" and you were busy with "s***ping". He went and did some real good work and whatever was his objective he was able to bring about change and it helped the children in CRY , So we don't have any right to criticize him or his objective.

Whatever be it , there are people who tries to make change , but people who really bring about change are less and an example may be persons like Elattuvalapil Sreedharan . , the chief architect of Delhi Metro and who has also just been awarded the honour bestowed by CNN IBM. He has been in lot of lists along with Ratan Tata, Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Azim Premji, N R Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani, Sachin Tendulkar , Rajnikant and Shah Rukh Khan and so on. It is a debatable question how many of those people would have really contributed and changed something that has helped and improved the life of so many people .Many people got an automatic rating because of their acting or sporting prowess or say on how they grew the wealth that they got from their family ethically or unethically (?).

Personally .the journey to CP from Delhi University campus was real hell before the metro came . and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh summed it up aptly in his inaugural speech to launch the DU - Kashmeere gate lane of Delhi metro.

I have spent many hours of my life traveling on these roads, below which this Metro rail will now run, sitting in a bus like so many of our fellow citizens on my way to work. As a member of the faculty of Delhi University I recall commuting by public transport to work. At that time, Delhi was not as big and crowded as it has now become. It was easier to commute by public transport and my family and I did so without too much difficulty. However, over the years, this city has grown at a faster pace than the public infrastructure, than the Government and the city’s authorities have been able to provide. Today I believe it is a nightmare for many to commute, be it by personal transport or public. Indeed, the inadequate provisioning of public transportation has further contributed to the congestion caused by private transport.

I am truly impressed by the quality of the new infrastructure we have built here today. I congratulate Shri Shreedharan and all his colleagues. They have set an example for all of us to follow - that India can do it, howsoever difficult the task. This is an attitude, which should isnpire all of us in place of the ‘Chalta hai’ attitude. I do hope that other cities will learn from the experience and the example of Delhi Metro and that we can replicate this model elsewhere. Having just travelled on Delhi Metro, I do think we now have a service that can compete with the best in the world and as a nation we must have the ambition to compete with the very best in the world. We cannot be satisfied with the status quo, or the way things have been run in the past. To ensure this, every one of us who uses this service must make sure that it is maintained well and runs efficiently. I am sure the citizens of Delhi will greatly value and cherish this new service now at their disposal.

Before metro came crowded buses or haggling autowallahs was not the problem , it was simply the time that had to committed to reach and return from Connaught Place .Twenty minutes in Delhi Metro from University to Connaught Place changed all that and soon metro journeys became an experience that everyone looked forward to . There were people who took joyrides just to travel in metro. Nobody could have imagined how successful it would turn out to be when metro was envisioned. Where I stayed,in Delhi University, the transition the whole area has experienced is just amazing.It has today state of art lightening system,which only Belgium and UK support so far. The visibility of the pedestrians crossing, to the vehicles is as far as till two km afar. The roads are broad and extremely well lit.( DMRC also overtookroads construction to support its network all around it) The lightening system is photosensitive to the natural the sunlight dims,the lights switch on and then switch off automatically as the sunlight gets enough.Delhi Metro has made life more livable for people in this burgeoning Mega-City .

These days many people who has experienced Delhi metro quote from how we should all learn from Delhi Metro be it from IT Implementation , Local Economy Boom to Customer Service . Delhi Metro is an epitome of what technocrats like E Sreedharan can do and why they are needed in this country. There was another technocrat called V J Kurian who constructed the Nedumbassery Airport in Kochi which is one of the best examples of what can be achieved through private public participation.Successful projects of this scale will inspire us all to think big about the future of the country and hope more people like them ie people who really bring about change will come up and revive the system.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Bye Bye Odyssey years

Memories get added and hope gets renewed every new year.

As long as we have memories ,
yesterday remains

As long as we have hope,
tomorrow awaits.

2007 has been good year .

Career , Gym, Stocks and New Friendships . How soon the life changes ?

This is going to be my last odyssey year and the decade of wandering around , experimenting with careers and falling in crushes and trying hand in everything that I could get my hands on is getting over with 2007.

Actually nothing much has changed from my Last New Year Post. But Still....I cant write a post like that now. NC has turned serious and heartless.

Wish You a Happy & Prosperous New Year!