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The recent merger of various Indian Railways services seems to have ruffled many feathers. In the corridors of the Rail Bhawan, it’s being interpreted as a hamhanded approach to address the various problems that plague the world’s biggest railway network. Experts view the latest move by the Railways Ministry as the cynical first step towards privatisation of the Indian Railways, instead of trying to address the systemic issues that have adversely impacted its Operating Ratio, affecting its modernisation plan, expansion and efficiency. The sweeping changes that the ministry is trying to ram through also mark the beginning of the end of a welfare enterprise that provides a cheap means of transport to the country’s poorest of the poor. In a bigger context, this is, perhaps, the first clear signs of the end of a welfare state. It’s also apparent that the government is in no mood to learn from the disastrous consequences of privatisation of Railways in other countries, especially in Latin America and Africa, as it embarks upon dismantling the superstructure of transportation in India, writes Srinand Jha

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