As I stare at the road ahead for IR, I am reminded of the famous opening lines of Charles Dickens in ‘ A Tale of two cities’:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light. . . .
In recent times, the IR finds itself grappling with a number of challenges. These include a declining modal share of railways in Indian economy despite its environmental and economical benefits, depletion of operating surpluses and fund balances resulting in a severe resource crunch, congestion on arterial routes resulting in a diminishing ability to carry incremental traffic to earn more revenue, long shelf of projects with thinly spread allocations, a challenging global economic scenario typified by a drastic fall in commodity prices casting a long shadow on the core sector growth in the Indian Economy, over capacities in certain sectors of the economy resulting in their tepid growth, unprecedented decline in oil prices and expansion of road network leading to a substantial reduction in operating costs of transportation by road and so on.
In this scenario, there are two options before us. We may choose to sit back and continue with business as usual hoping for the headwinds to get benign. Or we may try and carve a destiny for ourselves out of the extraordinary situation.
We may perhaps tend to agree with the philosophy that ‘one should always select, never settle’. I would therefore, strongly entreat all of you to go for the latter option.
I firmly believe that meeting the challenges before Indian Railways would require a leadership role to be played by the cadre of IRTS. As the face of the organisation, this cadre needs to be extremely innovative and ready to provide the thought leadership so essential for the organisation to prosper. We must be on the constant lookout for the many things that CAN be done to improve things in our spheres of influence. For this we must generate synergy and maintain a positive outlook. We may find solutions by being creative or simply by going back to the basics. This would require us to maintain our quest for a deeper understanding, value interaction with our colleagues and staff to learn from them, knock our heads together often to find unconventional solutions especially with the use of modern IT and constantly be in close touch with stakeholders to respond readily to their requirements.
I would be failing here, if I do not use this opportunity to acknowledge the exemplary leadership provided by the Minister for Railways who despite the challenges, is convinced of a much grander role for IR in the national economy. With the business as usual approach conspicuous by absence in the last two successive budgets and a massive mobilisation funds for CAPEX in the mission critical areas, the hon’ble MR has been continuously encouraging all of us to catch the bull by the horns-and to take on the challenges by thinking out of the box.