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Published : Jun 29, 2023 11:00 IST - 5 MINS READ

Odisha train crash

THE Cover Story (June 30) rightly pointed out that an integral systems failure was one of the main reasons for the train tragedy. We take pride in the Indian Railways being the fourth largest in the world, but sadly, we cannot do the same when it comes to safety standards. The number of train accidents that occurred in 2022-23 is proof enough that lessons have not been learnt. While it is important to focus on new trains such as the Vande Bharat, priority should be given to safety standards and the maintenance of existing lines. Safety first should be the motto of the Railways.

The victims in this case were mostly migrant labourers. Their compartments are overcrowded, with tickets being issued beyond the coaches’ carrying capacity. Why are there no checks in this regard?

Balasubramaniam Pavani

Secunderabad, Telangana

June 6 in Balasore district, Odisha, workers restoring railway tracks at the site of the triple-train accident that happened on June 2 near the Bahanga Bazar railway station.

June 6 in Balasore district, Odisha, workers restoring railway tracks at the site of the triple-train accident that happened on June 2 near the Bahanga Bazar railway station. | Photo Credit: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI

A PICTURE speaks a thousand words and so did the one on pages 24-25 showing labourers engaged in rail-track restoration work after the accident at Balasore. They are not wearing uniforms or any personal protective equipment (safety shoes and helmets). All of them appear to be contractual workers, perhaps sourced from nearby villages, possibly without any training and are at risk of hurting themselves.

Saurabh Sinha


AS an affordable and dependable mass transport system, the Indian Railways ranks amongst the largest in the world both in terms of its scale of operations and the number of services it operates on a daily basis. Narendra Modi visited the accident spot, a first for an Indian Prime Minister. The Railway Minister visited the site immediately after the tragedy and not only coordinated relief and rescue efforts but remained there until the damaged railway lines were restored and services restarted.

In the past two decades, the Railways has been able to drastically reduce the number of derailments even as freight movement has increased threefold and passengers almost doubled. This is a commendable achievement. Considering the complexity of the Railways, the operating systems have to be updated continuously by adopting the latest technology, including artificial intelligence.

T.N. Venugopalan

Kochi, Kerala

THE problems of the Railways must be fixed on a war footing if travel is to be safe. The abolition of the dedicated budget for the Railways removed the scope for a detailed analysis of its functions, needs, and the allocation of financial resources.

The primary cause for many problems in the country is the unjustifiable policy shift away from welfare-oriented public utility services. The Indian Railways has also been affected by this, but the impact of that shift is not so stark in other sectors. The creation of an autonomous railway ombudsman with a retinue of advisers and liberal powers to settle grievances is desirable.

Moving a train safely between stations requires the services of scores of employees, and unfilled posts are a hazard. Let policymakers put the issue of safety on the front burner.

B. Rajasekaran


Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi.

Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi. | Photo Credit: Siva Saravanan S.

ALLEGATIONS of child marriage in the families of certain priest communities in Tamil Nadu go viral, more so when Governor R.N. Ravi, who is facing a plethora of controversies, speaks on the issue (“Unholy mess”, June 30). The Governor takes a dig at Tamil culture and takes his own time over Bills passed by the State legislature such as those relating to NEET and the ban on online rummy. He cares little about reprimands from the Supreme Court. His actions lend credence to the view that he acts as the BJP’s tool to scuttle federalism.

C. Chandrasekaran

Madurai, Tamil Nadu


THIS is with reference to the remark “Easier to win than to govern” on the cover of the June 16 issue. Did it not belittle the phenomenal success of the Congress under Siddaramaiah in the Assembly election in Karnataka, for long a stronghold of the BJP? It was a resounding win, despite the rivalry for the top post, and has to be appreciated as such.

G. Radhakrishnan



THE article “Why Pali lost out” (June 16) reminded me of a time 60 years ago when I was a student at St Xavier’s College in Bombay and we had three young men studying Pali. They were Jesuit priests and Spaniards. They were in fact the only students of Pali in Bombay University at the time. Most of us had never heard of such a language.

One day, when some of us were travelling by train to Pune with one of the priests, Fr Pascual, there was a swami in our compartment lecturing the people around him on the Bhagavad Gita. Soon, we saw that Fr Pascual’s face was slowly turning beetroot red. Suddenly, he leapt to his feet and in fluent Marathi berated the swami for talking nonsense to his audience. He then started to quote from the Bhagavad Gita, in Spanish and (I think) Pali, showing the swami where he was wrong in his interpretations of various verses from the holy book.

The swami jumped off the train at the next station, never to return.

Stanley Pinto


Migratory birds

THE northern shoveler, the northern pintail, the gadwall, the common pochard, and the wigeon were once migratory birds that regularly visited the Sultanpur National Park, the Dhanauri wetlands, and the Surajpur and Okhla bird sanctuaries (“Odyssey interrupted”, June 16). However, rapid urbanisation is affecting their arrivals. Ten years ago I recorded 18 different species of migratory birds. Today, one can only see cormorants and a few varieties of wagtails. Waterbodies are unscientifically converted into theme parks and boating centres. This is an issue that must be looked into.

Debajyoti Sengupta

New Delhi

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