INDIAN RAILWAYS ENQUIRY SYSTEM – LYING, AS USUAL….

My parents were travelling from ShivGanga Express (12559 – Varanasi to New Delhi) last evening. The train, considered the most important one between Varanasi and New Delhi, starts from the Manduadih station (MUV), one of the sub-stations of the Varanasi Railway Junction, at 7:40 PM and arrives in New Delhi (NDLS) at 8:10 AM the next day. And the thing is, its gets delayed daily. Okay, don’t get swayed by Indian Railways’ National Train Enquiry System (NTES) app on your smartphone or – https://enquiry.indianrail.gov.in/ntes/ – its desktop version.

They work overtime to do the damage control that has become synonymous with Indian Railways – chronic delays. Most of the time, they end up showing ‘earlier than real’ time of a train’s arrival. But this ‘jugaad’ hurts the Indian Railway’s misplaced pride even more. The network that has been busy fleecing passengers during some last years to increase its revenue, with measures like dynamic fare pricing as air carriers do or Premium Tatkal scheme that makes even a sleeper class ticket as expensive as AC-II or AC-III, has absolutely failed to meet the most basic need of any transport network – timely arrival and departure of trains. And mind you, most of this is due to its human network. The irony of all this is, you can easily find cheaper airfares for the same route than what some of premium trains offer.

And when even most of its premium trains routinely get delayed – including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto – we don’t need to do much data digging about the state of affairs with the superfast trains, like the one my parents were travelling from. And last evening and this morning were no different. The train usually starts getting late as it passes the Allahabad Junction. By the time the train arrives in Kanpur, already an hour or two late, it enters the phase where it adds up delayed minutes to its quantum quite regularly, so much so, that by the time it reaches in the catchment area of Delhi, it becomes a nightmare for passengers.

These are the snapshots of the NTES app this morning that show how Indian Railways takes us for a ride. The screenshots taken at 10:36 AM show the train is delayed by 2.21 hours and will reach Delhi by 10:31 AM. We can give the NTES benefit of doubt here as the site may take some minutes in updating the information.

So I called my parents at 10:41 AM to confirm if the train had arrived so that I could ask the driver to approach them but what they told me, in turn told me, that the train was still hours away, even if it was just 15 Kms away from the New Delhi railway station. The train was just crossing the Anand Vihar Terminal. I again called them at 11:10 AM and they said the same thing, that they were still in the Anand Vihar area.

I again checked the NTES app at 11:13 AM. It was now showing the train was delayed by 2.48 hours with its expected New Delhi arrival at 10:48 AM. But here is this thing to see. This information on the NTES app was updated at 10:39 AM, 39 minutes after the last update at 10 AM as we can see in the screenshots but both show the same last station departed – ‘Departed from Chipyana Buzurg at 9:55 AM 23 Nov. 29 Kms to arrive New Delhi.’ So, in a sense, no real time update. The maps of the train route are also showing the same pointers.

I again checked the NTES app at 11:24 AM. And bingo, this time it showed the train had arrived New Delhi at 11:05 AM (delayed by 2.55 hours). The information was updated at 11:18 AM. Keeping in mind the history of the NTES app for giving misleading information, I called my parents at 11:25 PM to confirm it. And guess what they said. They told me that the train was still standing at the Shivaji Bridge station, almost 1.5 Kms away from the New Delhi railway station. The train finally arrived at the New Delhi railway station at 11:37 AM, delayed by 3.27 hours.

©SantoshChaubey

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EMOTIONS

When emotions flow
Don’t hold them
For, it is who you are
Free, unhinged
And that is how
A life should be
So, be free like them
And seek their energy
To shape your convictions
And to find harmony there
Emotions don’t ask
They only correlate
To ‘who you have been’
Resolute, spirited
The way
A life should have been
So, be pure like them
And imbibe their soul
For a journey
That should be what
You thought you’d be

©SantoshChaubey

ZIMBABWEANS ARE RIGHT IN CELEBRATING MUGABE’S OUSTER, EVEN IF IT MAY BE FOR A DAY

A ruthless dictator of 37 years humiliated. His wife having larger than life presence shut down. And people are celebrating the ouster.

And why not? Even if it is for a day! Even it if it is for a week!

They are celebrating the departure of a man who made their country a living hell, who crushed and killed them at will, who lived a lavish life while they were cursed to live a life of have-nots.

‘Zimbabwe and economy’ and ‘Zimbabwe and industry’ have been made misnomers by Robert Mugabe.

They were living and dying in utter poverty while the dictator’s wife was a millionaire shopper of luxury brands in western countries, earning even the nickname of ‘Gucci Grace’.

So, it is their day. They are singing. They are dancing. They are chanting. They are simply overjoyed.

They can openly called names for that man. They can freely mock him. They can make jokes in his (and his wife)’s name without fear of persecution. They were protesting and now they are speaking their mind, something unheard of in the country so far.

Even if it all may be a clever ploy to install another dictator, who used to be the henchman of the outgoing dictator, and is nicknamed ‘crocodile’ for the way he has lived so far.

Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe may be paying the price for the foolish acts of his wife Grace Mugabe. It all began when 93-year old dictator-cum-president Mugabe tried to remove his henchman and vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa to make way for his wife Grace Mugabe, a reviled figure in the country. Well, the henchman fled the country, but with designs in his mind.

And then things moved quickly behind the scenes. Probably, Grace was not just totally unacceptable to ordinary Zimbabweans only but also to its army and the sole ruling party Zaanu-PF, the power coterie that has had been sanctifying the Mugabe dictatorship. So, within weeks, the oldest serving head of the state on the planet is gone and his henchman-turned-sacrificial lamb-turned-foe is slated to take over from him.

So, in a sense, nothing is expected to change. The coterie that was behind Mugabe is still calling shots. And Mnangagwa for Mugabe! Well, that is not a change in real terms.

But that should not take away the rare event of freedom and celebration that Zimbabweans have got after for 37 years, ever since the country came into existence after its independence in 1980. That was the year when their revolutionary hero, Robert Mugabe, who was also trained as a teacher, took over the reins of the country.

But a revolutionary who quickly showed his colours, like most of the revolutionaries around the world have done, be it in USSR or in China or in Cuba or in many other countries, and clung to power like a leech. The next decades were testimony to his fiefdom; bleeding and humiliating a nation like even most dictators fail to do. Going of such a person in such a humiliating way is a befitting healing touch for their wounds.

So, they will see what happens tomorrow. For the moment, let them bask in the glory of people power, even if it is symbolic, for they have got this healing touch after decades. The day, the event, has come as a ‘dream come true’ for them.

For them at the moment, they are speaking and Mugabes are silent, and it is what matters for them.

©SantoshChaubey

LIFE KALEIDOSCOPIC – COLOURS!

LIFE KALEIDOSCOPIC – COLOURS!

©SantoshChaubey

LIFE KALEIDOSCOPIC – PARADOXED!

LIFE KALEIDOSCOPIC – PARADOXED!

©SantoshChaubey

A LIFE KALEIDOSCOPIC – DASHASHWAMEDH GHAT: VARANASI VIBES

IN GOD’S OWN CITY

DASHASHWMEDH GHAT
A LIFE KALEIDOSCOPIC
VARANASI VIBES

INDIA’S OLDEST LIVING CITY – INDIA’S HERITAGE AND CULTURAL CAPITAL – AND THE WORLD’S SPIRITUAL CAPITAL THROUGH RANDOM CLICKS

©SantoshChaubey

A LIFE KALEIDOSCOPIC – DASHASHWAMEDH GHAT: VARANASI VIBES

IN GOD’S OWN CITY

DASHASHWMEDH GHAT
A LIFE KALEIDOSCOPIC
VARANASI VIBES

INDIA’S OLDEST LIVING CITY – INDIA’S HERITAGE AND CULTURAL CAPITAL – AND THE WORLD’S SPIRITUAL CAPITAL THROUGH RANDOM CLICKS

©SantoshChaubey

INDIAN CONSTITUTION AND ENVIRONMENT

Framers of our Constitution had realized a developing India, as the time moves on, will present before its citizens many issues that were immaterial or unheard of in those days. And that is why they gave us a comprehensive document that touches every part of our society, the individual, the community, the administration and the government. What is remarkable is the fact that every new challenge, every new issue can be interpreted in terms of the guidelines mentioned in the Constitution as mentioned in its preface, “Constitution is a living document, an instrument which makes the government system work.”

One such issue is environment. Pollution has reached to threatening levels in our country with 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities being Indian. Pollution is not something that has come into public psyche just now. It has had history of its own, especially in the aftermath of the industrial revolution in Europe in 18-19th Century coupled with the advent of fossil fuels. The world can never forget the Great Smog of London in 1952 that killed over 4000.

The framers of our Constitution deliberated on these issues and gave us safeguards that would continue to defence us, through the custodians of the Constitution, the Judiciary, even if the governments continue to fail us on environment and pollution. What can be a more apt testimony to this ‘Constitution is a living document’ spirit than the fact that our courts, including the Supreme Court, have, from time to time, have reminded the government and the industry that, though not directly mentioned, ‘Right to Environment’ is a Fundamental Right under Article 14, 19 and 21.

The Constitution empowers the citizens and the courts by ensuring ‘remedies for enforcement of rights it confers’ as defined by the Article 32 – “The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part (Fundamental Rights) is guaranteed” – or by the Article 226 in case of the High Courts.

Apart from the Fundamental Rights, our Constitution also comprehensive lays down guidelines to protect the environment at each level – be it an individual or society (Fundamental Duties) or the administration and government level (Directive Principals of State Policy).

INDIVIDUAL/SOCIETY -PART IVA OF THE CONSTITUTION – THE FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

Article 51A (G): It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—

• To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;

THE STATE – PART IV – DIRECTIVE PRINCIPALS OF STATE POLICY

Article 43: The State shall endeavour to secure, by suitable legislation or economic organisation or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise, work, a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis in rural areas.

Article 47: The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.

Article 48A: The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country.

THE ADMINISTRATION – PART IXA OF THE CONSTITUTION – THE MUNICIPALITIES

District Planning Committee
Article 243ZD (3A): Every District Planning Committee shall, in preparing the draft development plan — have regard to —
(i) matters of common interest between the Panchayats and the Municipalities including spatial planning, sharing of water and other physical and natural resources, the integrated development of infrastructure and environmental conservation.

Metropolitan Planning Committee
Article 243ZE (3): Every Metropolitan Planning Committee shall, in preparing the draft development plan — have regard to—
(ii) matters of common interest between the Municipalities and the Panchayats, including co-ordinated spatial planning of the area, sharing of water and other physical and natural resources, the integrated development of infrastructure and environmental conservation.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTANI PROPAGANDA ACCUSES INDIA OF RUNNING A CELL TO SABOTAGE CPEC

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Pakistan has long been accusing India of trying to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Top Pakistani politicians and army generals have been blaming India for staging attacks in Pakistan through its external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Obviously, all this has been without proof.

But now the Pakistani propaganda has gone a step ahead by incorporating figures like when India founded this so called anti-CPEC cell and how much fund was allocated to it. General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan, while addressing an event in Islamabad today, charged India of running a cell to disrupt the CPEC.

“RAW established a new cell with a special allocation of over $500 million in 2015 to sabotage CPEC projects in Pakistan,” a Dawn report quoted him saying. While addressing an event in Islamabad, he further said, “India’s indirect interference in Pakistan is manifested in sponsoring Tehreek-i-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), Baloch and other sub-nationalist outfits and many other terrorist groups.”

Now the world can see through such baseless allegations coming from a country that is seen as a safe haven for terrorists and is increasingly becoming isolated in the world for this very reason, especially when it is against India, the world’s largest democracy, a growing global power, both economically as well as militarily and a responsible geopolitical entity.

It is Pakistan, in fact, that has been giving shelter to India’s and the world’s most wanted like Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and is main terror exporter to India, a fact that major world powers including the US and UK have started accepting. How can the world forget that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan for years before he was hunted down and killed? How can Pakistan convince the world that it is not home to the Taliban and Al Qaeda factions and the Haqqani Network?

While the ruling Pakistani elite have been brazenly lying about establishing peace in their country and browbeating their propaganda to the world to tell that they have wiped out every terror outfit, the fact is, this year alone, over 450 civilians and around 200 security forces personnel have lost their lives in over 100 incidents in the country, data from South Asia Terrorism Portal shows.

WHY INDIA IS OPPOSED TO THE CPEC

China’s One Belt One Road initiative aims to de velop economic corridors in Asia, Africa and Europe, something that India is opposed to as one of such corridors, the CPEC. India is opposed to CPEC because a part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir that is legally India’s. For strategic reasons also, India doesn’t welcome a Chinese presence just across the border in a disputed territory that India considers its own.

CPEC, AN INTERNAL SECURITY NIGHTMARE FOR PAKISTAN

Pakistan sees the CPEC, a long term $75 billion project from Gwadar port in Balochistan to Kashgar China’s Xinjiang province, as the next big thing in the nation’s history that will transform it into of hub and economic activity in this part of Asia.

But the fact is, it passes through many restive regions of Pakistan including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan and terrorists groups that are hostile to China, including TTP and Al Qaeda, have threatened to attack Chinese investments in the corridor to avenge the so-called atrocities against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Then there are ethnic people of areas the CPEC passes through who are opposed to it. A combine of religious groups in Gilgit Baltistan has demanded the complete removal of Pakistan’s Army from its soil.

Baloch people, who are fighting the Pakistani establishment for their freedom and have long been accusing Pakistan of exploiting their province, see the CPEC as yet another tool to exploit the Baloch people. Baloch nationalists blame Pakistan for forcefully acceding their province. Pakistani security forces are alleged to have killed thousands of Baloch people. Reports of rape, torture and disappearances are common. Baloch people say they are ethnically different from Pakistanis and are demanding freedom or autonomy to decide their own affairs.

How bad is the security scenario in the CPEC regions also reflects in the fact that Pakistan has raised a Special Security Division (SSD) of 15000 soldiers to protect some 7000 Chinese individuals and CPEC installations that are coming up. This is when the project has just begun. The CPEC was proposed in 2013 and an agreement between Pakistan and China was signed in May 2013.

©SantoshChaubey