My thought on seeing the newspaper headline was: ‘What was he doing in a place like that?’. I could not quite place our top entertainer-politician in a sober setting of a management class-room . Besides, my perception (I stand corrected) of our rail minister was that he probably knew about cows, rather than issues of high management of railways.
I was mistaken. In his interaction with management students at Ahmedabad Mr Lalu Prasad impressed the gathering with his plans for the railways. What’s more, the rail minister told the IIM students a thing or two about cows as well. A Jersey cow, he says, falls sick, if she is not milked fully. So would the railways, if their full potential for development is not tapped.
The minister spoke of his dreams of developing our railway stations to global standards - with shopping malls, large parking lot, transit hotel and all. He makes sense with his suggestion that access to platforms should be restricted only to passengers. Apart form security concerns, the ban on visitor entry to platforms would make them far less congested.
As a security measure, the move for passengers-only platform would have merit, only if the ban on visitors is backed by proper arrangement, at the platform entry, for security check of both passengers and their baggage (x-ray screening). However, provision can be made for allowing in visitors who come to see off elderly passengers, needing help in boarding a train.
Railway stations in future would look more like airports. Hopefully, with no entry fee, for access of visitors. to the lobby, the mall and areas other than the security-cordoned railway platforms. Airports would also so well to scrap entry fee to arrival/departure lounges. Aviation minister, Mr Praful Patel, should take a leaf from the rail minister.