Metro Men

By Sunil Kumar

People of the world; I’m going to be talking about metros today; yup; something many of you might be using every day. Something about India and Mumbai is in order; as for those who can read; that’s where me and Aglaia Interactive are at.

London Underground roundel logo

Visit London Underground roundel logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The oldest in existence is the London Underground; built somewhere around 1863; the tube is famous and iconic; and is truly representative of the people of the world passing through its hallowed corridors. Next we come to the old and new; the United States and China. With New York leading the way in terms of population and track; the subway and Grand Central Station have achieved global recognition courtesy Hollywood.

Grand Central terminal in New York, NY

Visit Grand Central terminal in New York, NY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As in everything; China’s got 2500 kilometres of track ready; also in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Contrast this with the country closest to our interests; India. We have only 225 km(quoting figures); with the majority in the capital Delhi(190 kms). Other projects that can be mentioned include Bengaluru’s Namma Metro. As for Mumbai; with something initiated in 2008; a 12 km track between Ghatkopar and Versova has still not started. Maybe in some weeks; let’s see.

Projects underway in Jaipur, Hyderabad and Chennai may cover more ground. More plans on the anvil for Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Ahmedabad, Patna, Kochi et al.

Earnest request to the bureaucrats in charge of India’s administration; many of you may already know the economic argument in expediting these initiatives. Make life a little more comfortable in terms of travel for the bulk of the country’s citizens; and you will see a consequent change in terms of living conditions, satisfaction and GDP(will definitely add more percentage points). Overt simplification of the country’s massive requirements cannot address everything; but it’s definitely a start; if only some basics are speeded up.

Now I’m reminded of the complete idiocy and regional parochialism displayed by an editor who I shall not name; spouting words of effervescent wisdom such as; “Do we really need to build more (facilities, etc) in other parts of the country?” Indeed; we do. The winter of discontent has been built on the bedrock of the selective discrimination and lack of national vision displayed by many people; I include the politicians; the intelligentsia and the “aam aadmi”.(Citizen power; if you believe all the empowerment business).

English: The R City Mall building at Ghatkopar...

Visit English: The R City Mall building at Ghatkopar in Mumbai, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bharat is definitely not unity in diversity; but a more equitable distribution of resources and wealth could do wonders; if it was implemented; instead of merely forming part of documents and vision statements. Translation into practice requires political and administrative will; something that the country’s electorate has desired in the current election.

Back to the world. Moscow’s metro by all accounts is an architectural marvel; and Paris with its art nouveau stations are something I’ve seen personally. My review; it’s difficult man; for people who speak only English. Mais Oui; with a smattering of French; the navigation around the place is a goddamn pain. Your neighbours across the Channel and out there in Germany; with the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn etc are leagues ahead in making it more outsider friendly.

South America. Santiago in Chile apparently has the biggest network; and there are a few famous ones in Sao Paulo etc(I’ve passed through this Brazilian city; so kind of sticks in my memory). Metros generally tend to be crowded; pass through some notoriously dangerous neighbourhoods; reek and stink in some places; but act as a lifeline for the population.

Kem Che, Reliance? After all; it’s Mumbai; home to 20 million people apart from you. Amazing that we have seen the Metro proceeding at a snail’s pace; compared to other cities. In Bombay Meri Jaan; the suburban railway system is a much-needed transport mechanism(everybody knows) but it can often turn out to be hell right here on earth. Not that I’m saying that all of you goddamn big houses such as the Tatas, Airtel or Godrej have anything to do with urban infrastructure; but surely it serves your intrinsic interests.

Surely hope some of you policy makers read this and can be in a position and do implement a change. After all, Modi’s new dispensation has promised to listen to every nagrik of the nation. Please implement a more contemporary transport infrastructure across the country; and especially its commercial capital.



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