Railways, be fair to all
Apropos of “Bansal backs WR-Konkan link”, on the proposal to connect the Western Railway and Central Railway through Naigaon to facilitate direct trains from Mumbai Central and Bandra to the Konkan, Pune and the south, the shorter link to the Konkan route is from the Central Railway, that is from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. This is the reason why trains from Mumbai to Goa run on this line. The western route is much longer. The passengers on the western line will save time and money by commuting to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus or Thane to board Konkan-bound trains. In the same way, those living on the central line, but wanting to travel to destinations on the Western Railway, have to go to Mumbai Central or Bandra terminus to board the trains. If there is going to be a link from Naigaon to the Vasai-Diva line, there might as well also be a link from Bhiwandi on the Vasai-Diva line to Thane.
—RR Shenoy, by email
Waste of resources
I wish to point out how our short-sightedness has led to a waste of railway resource that we inherited from the British, who left behind a rail system in Mumbai with the Bombay Port Trust (now, Mumbai Port Trust, MbPT) connected by rail to the Indian Rail Network. Wagons were loaded at the port and taken to the Wadala yard, where they were formed into trains and then despatched to all corners of the country. However, because of a short-sighted view of the government, this Bombay Port Trust railway network was closed, the heritage engines – steam and diesel – were sold off and all cargo is now being despatched by road. What a colossal wastage of resources!
—Robin Viegas, Mumbai
Hike EPF pension
Apropos of “EPFO to pay 8.5 per cent interest on PF deposits”, is great news for EPF subscribers. Industrial workers do not have any pension scheme or medical insurance after retirement, so this increased rate will help them. But the bigger issue about a review of the EPF pension amount has not been addressed. The maximum pension amount under the scheme is Rs2,000. The Union labour minister had assured to look into this a long time ago, but nothing has been done yet. It is my sincere request that the government address this issue urgently, in the context of the spiralling cost of living and medical expenses that is hurting retired people severely.
—R Sridhar, by email
The wrong lessons
I’ve been following the “Guru Mantra” feature that gives advice to students on how to approach and tackle the examination question paper. The recommendations reveal all that is wrong with our educational system. Take the suggestions for the HSC chemistry exam. Is it necessary at the school level to know about crystal systems, limiting values, P-block elements, IUPAC names, and so on? No wonder learning by rote has become the default system and coaching classes are doing roaring business. How much of this chemistry and for how many students will this be relevant in another five years? How much of the maths that you learned have you really used? What is the sum of the internal angles of a regular polygon? Can’t remember? We have overloaded the syllabus deliberately to suit vested interests. It is time for a revamp of the system. We need to stretch the time spent in school and college to match the increase in life expectancy. The “educational period’ must enable selection of specialisation when the student is really ready to know what he wants and suits him. The peer pressure factor that drives the herd instinct must be curbed.
—TR Ramaswami, Mumbai
We do need our hawkers
Apropos of “Maken brings licence for hawkers with him”, the Union minister for housing and urban poverty, Ajay Maken, deserves to be complimented for becoming a Good Samaritan for the much maligned hawkers of the city. He has rightly applied a humanitarian approach to the problem, in glaring contrast to that of the corporation and the police who have taken the stand indiscriminately that all hawkers are a nuisance and should, therefore, be got rid off. The proposed “Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2013 which is likely to be passed during the current session of Parliament is meant to ensure that hawking will be allowed to 2.5 per cent of the city’s population and licences will be issued to them at the recommendation of the town and zonal vending committees which will have 40 per cent representation for hawkers’ unions. He is quite right in emphatically stating that a city cannot be developed without hawkers whose clients are only willing citizens.
—V Subramanyan, Thane
Oh, home minister?!
Having risen from the ranks, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde must have had a wide experience of life, especially with the lower strata of the society. Yet, he errs again and again. Strange indeed. First, he erred in making remarks about terrorism inviting criticism, and then meekly eating his words. And now, the news of his openly naming a rape victim when, as per law, the victims of rape, that too minors, are not identified and named. Could it be through oversight? And can a home minister afford such an oversight? Perhaps, it could be the onset of senile dementia? Hardly, anything could justify the gaffe or absolve him of the solecism.
—KK Wajge, Mumbai