The day before, I went to the Old Delhi Railway Station to see off one of my close relatives. It was almost eleven years now when I last visited it while once going to Shimla for some official work. To be honest, the kind of chaos and confusion I experienced on the last occasion, I never felt like visiting the place again despite long tenure in Delhi. As such, it is a big railway station with numerous zigzag platforms and other services and a friend had cautioned me this time to go well in advance, which I complied with reaching about forty-five minutes ahead of the scheduled train departure time.
Near entrance, there is an electronic display facility showing position of the outgoing and incoming trains but the information on this particular train was missing. While looking around for the enquiry or information desk, I could not locate it nearby. Finally, a porter informed me about the designated platform and that the train was already parked there. As a law-abiding citizen, I was keen to buy a platform ticket and my chauffer led me outside at designated place where only one ticket window was open with more than fifty people in queue with no indication if the same duty clerk will issue platform tickets too. After about twenty minutes of hassles, with random enquiries, we finally reached the designated platform where the train was yet to arrive.
It was a late evening and platforms were crowded with many people sitting on the floor and luggage dumped here and there. One could easily notice litter and dirt everywhere with many passengers urinating in open on the platform. The entire scene was in sharp contrast to the New Delhi Railway Station which is not ideal but comparatively better managed. The case in point is if this is the state in the national capital what better we could expect at other places.
Obviously, while returning back I had regained my internal peace and poise. I was wondering about the newly coined slogans of achchhe din… (better days ahead) and Swachh Bharat (Clean India). There is a committed prime minister who is well intentioned with a dream vision of inclusive growth of all, with health, sanitation and hygiene high on agenda. His recent initiatives like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jan Dhan Yojana, Digital India Project etc. are cases in point to vindicate how serious he and his government is to improve the quality of life of every Indian citizen.
The government and leaders can facilitate a policy framework with necessary resources but ultimately success depends on how it is implemented at the gross root levels. Let us take the case of very railway station itself. The necessary electronic facility and tools are available to render information in a prompt and efficient manner but the concerned officers and staff are not feeding and updating it promptly and efficiently. Hence passengers will have trouble in getting information. On one hand, modern facilities like X-ray machine to scan baggage and escalator to railway bridge is installed to facilitate passengers to reach respective platforms but necessary enquiry or information desk at vantage point to assist passengers is missing adding chaos and confusion everywhere.
While there is a need for sufficient cleaning staff working round the clock to keep the station clean and tidy, it is the bounden duty of every passenger (citizen) also that he does not add to litter and dirt in public places, platform in this case. In a civilized society, people need to learn necessary manners and etiquette to conduct in public. Again if people, unable to control urge, are urinating in open, it means there are no sufficient washing/toilet facilities around with necessary help, for which needful action should be taken by authorities. But then the ordinary citizen should also cultivate this habit of doing appropriate thing at appropriate place, for which he should be patient enough to find it out for use.
In many places necessary manpower and resources are available yet the services remain poor due to inadequate or no ground supervision. People in higher offices with greater responsibilities should frequently move out to see what is happening on the ground. This will sure optimize existing use of available resources. I remember while working as Head of an organization in previous office, I had about 35 subordinate offices. During my outstation visits, I found my predecessors had not visited several offices for years. Even for the offices located at the same station, they preferred to call them in their own office instead of occasionally visiting subordinate offices. During my less than two years of stay there, I made it a point to visit every subordinate office at least twice. Obviously, when you make such visits, you (perforce!) review work and performance of your junior colleagues and also take remedial measures, if required, for further improvement.