Do you know what drove the British to lay the
first railway tracks in India? It 'was the American Civil War'. You see, raw cotton from
the colonies in North America kept the cotton mills in Britain rolling. When supply dried
up, the British looked out for an alternative. And of course, India was the best option!
But there was a problem. How would the raw cotton from the fields in India reach the
Lancashire mills? So the Great Indian Peninsular Railway was set up, which pushed its
tracks into the Deccan Plateau, to fetch cotton to the Bombay port. Then shiploads of it
were sent to Lancashire.
Business flourished again.
Ok, the profits that these tracks drove in, only made the British richer. But the trend
continues. Even today, all the core commodities that run our
economycoal, steel, food grain, fertilisersare transported mainly via trains.
And of course, it provides the only mode of transport for a gigantic majority of the
Indian people! So the spinning wheels of this 150-year-old mammoth, the Indian
Railways, keep India on the move
But is it having a smooth ride itself? Not really. Every Indian knows that the IR is in a
desperate need for a face lift. Why is our prime carrier so bed-raggled? Lets find out.
Pandit Gobar Ganesh