Ravi ki duniya

Ravi ki duniya

Sunday, December 9, 2012

सच्ची हॉरर कहानी:





अलीगढ़ के पास एक गाँव से लौटते हुए रात को बिना किसी लाईट, खेतों से  चाँद की मद्धम रोशनी में गुजरते हुए उसी गाँव के निवासी करनसिंह ने यह किस्सा बताया था. “ रवि बाबू जरा जल्दी जल्दी पाँव बढ़ा लो यह खेत से अगले दो खेत तक जरा प्रॉब्लम है” मेरे पूछने पर वह टाल गया. मैंने फिर पूछा क्या है..बार-बार पूछने पर उसने कहा कुछ साल हुए यहां से हमारे गांव का एक आदमी रात को गुजर रहा था कि अचानक वह किसी पेड़ के नीचे पेशाब करने को रुका. उसके बाद वो अभी थोड़ी दूर ही गया था कि उसे एक छोटे बच्चे के रोने की आवाज सुनाई दी. उसने सोचा खेत पर पहरेदारी के लिये सोते हुए किसान के किसी बच्चे के रोने की आवाज होगी. पर तभी उसे याद आया कि इस खेत का मालिक किसान रामसरन तो दो साल पहले फांसी लगा कर मर चुका है. वह आगे बढ़ता रहा क्यों कि ग़ाँव के बुजुर्गों से उसने सुना था कि रात को खेत से जाते हुए कोई पीछे से आवाज दे तो चाहे कुछ भी हो  जाये पीछे मुड़ कर मत देखना. और कोई रास्ता पूछे या कोई पता पूछे तो भले बता देना मगर हरगिज़ हरगिज़ उसकी आंखों और पाँव की तरफ मत देखना. वो कितना भी कहे सुनो..देखो..तुम अपनी राह लेना.

यह याद कर वह अय्र तेज़ तेज़ कदम बढ़ाने लगा.. मगर बच्चे की आवाज और नज़दीक आती जा रही थी. एक बार को तो उसे लगा कि जैसे वह बच्चा उसके साथ ही चल रहा हो जैसे.

तभी अचानक उसने देखा कि पगडंडी के किनारे केले के पत्ते पर बच्चा लेटा हुआ है और जोर जोर से रो रहा है और हाथ-पाँव मार रहा है. उसने आवाज भी लगाई अरे भाई ये किसका बच्चा रो रहा है..कोई है..उसने सोचा हो सकता है कोई शौच आदि के लिये यहां आस-पास बैठा हो तो कमसेकम आवाज तो लगा ही देगा. मगर उसकी आवाज लौट कर उसी के पास  आ गयी...और वो आगे बढ़ गया. मगर आवाज और भी तेज़ हो गयी. उसका मन नहीं माना और वो जैसे ही उसने रुक कर पीछे मुड़ कर देखा तो दंग रह गया जैसे बच्चा उसके साथ साथ ही आ रहा था कारण कि वह केले का पत्ता नज़दीक आ गया था. उसने सोचा रात में उसे ठीक से दिखा नहीं होगा. ऐसा कैसे हो सकता है. और उसने आव देखा न ताव और बच्चे को गोद में उठा लिय. गोद में उठाते ही बच्चा चुप हो गया और बिना बात मुस्काराने लगा. एक हाथ मैं अपना बैग और एक हाथ में बच्चे के थामे वह लम्बे-लम्बे डग भरता हुआ चलने लगा.

न जाने क्यूं उसे ऐसा लगा कि बच्चा जैसे भारी सा हो गया है. उसने सोचा उसके मन का वहम होगा. और वह अपनी रफ्तार से चलने लगा. लेकिन अभी थोड़ी दूर ही गया होगा कि ऐसी सर्दी में भी उसे पसीने आने लगे. उसने सोचा ऐसा कैसे हो सकता है. तभी उसने महसूस किया कि बच्चा और भी अधिक भारी हो गया है ... उसने बच्चे को ठीक-ठाक से अपनी गोद में एड्जस्ट करने के लिये जैसे ही थोड़ा ऊपर को सरकाया वह दंग रह गया. बच्चा टस से मस नहीं हुआ. उसने जैसे ही नीचे देखा तो उसकी घिग्घी बंध गयी. वह देखता है कि बच्चे के पाँव लटक कर लगभग ज़मीन को छूने वाले थे. वह एक दम घबरा गया और इसी घबराहट नर्वसनैस में बच्चा उससे गिर गया या फिर उसने ही घबरा के अथवा डर के मारे बच्चे को एक दम अपनी गोद से नीचे गिरा दिया....

नीचे गिरने से पहले बच्चा जोर जोर से हँसा और उसकी हँसी एकदम बड़े आदमी की हँसी थी वो बच्चे की हँसी कतई नहीं थी. गिरते-गिरते बच्चे ने कहा “ आज तो बच गया तू.. बस अगर मेरे पाँव ज़मीन पर लग जाते तो तेरी मौत तय थी आज की रात...हा..हा..ह..हा.ह.हा....हाअ.हा

और यह कह वह गायब हो गया.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HUMOUR - WHY DID CHICKEN CROSS THE TRACK ?


 

 
             (RIGHT WAY,WRONG WAY          AND  RAILWAY)  

1.   ACM     Our entire traffic of ‘smalls’ has    already gone to roads 

2.   AOM     Came to know through control message, have     already    set up FOIS (Fowl Operations Information Service) 

3.   APO      File is put up. In the meanwhile chicken crossed the track without NOC. It is a ‘Cross’ item  

4.   AME     With no incentive scheme and bad pit line the chicken could not have done better. 

5.   ASC     It is a clear cut case of RPUP Act (Rooster Possessed   by Ultra Powers)   

6.   ASTE   Chickens are not entitled for CUG as per Rules. No spare pair is available  

7.   AMM   Quality of track and reasonability of rate has to be certified by the chicken  

8.   AEN    It was a case of rail fracture and APWI is responsible. However inquiry will reveal it was Signal dept‘s failure  

9.   ADMO     He was under ‘sick’ and did not apply for ‘change of air’ to the hospital of his jurisdiction.

10.   AFA     His proposal for crossing the track was returned unvetted for want of detail justification 

11.   AVO     Give a questionnaire to chicken, confiscate all files and papers in original pertaining to both chicken and track and then wait for CVC’s II stage advice. Till then chicken will be in Agreed List  

12.   AEE    This side of track could not take the load so panto dropped. He should have applied for three phase extra meter 

13.    PRO     i. Thank you very much for your suggestion
                      ii. Complaint will be looked into
                      iii Inconvenience caused is highly regretted 
 
14.   AHO     The road signs were not bilingual as per dhara 3 (iii)

                                                                                       

Saturday, October 20, 2012

व्यंग्य : सार्वजनिक खरीद में पारदर्शिता




सरकार भी कभी-कभी अच्छे मूड में होती है. अर्थात हल्के-फुल्के मज़ाक के मूड में. अब यहीं देख लीजिये सार्वजनिक खरीद में पारदर्शिता भई वाह ! जैसे कि पहले नहीं थी क्या ? भाई साहब सार्वजनिक खरीद में पारदर्शिता भी है, दूरदर्शिता भी है. भाईचारा भी है ( चारा शब्द पर जोर है ) सौहार्द भी है समृद्धि भी है. बरकत भी है. मैं एक बार एक फर्नीचर की दूकान पर गया मैंने चेयर का भाव पूछा तो उसने मुझसे पूछा आपको घर के लिये चाहिये या ऑफिस के लिये अर्थात दोनों के रेट अलग-अलग हैं. एक ज़माने में सरकारी सुपर बाज़ार और केंद्रीय भंडार की खरीद की बड़ी मान्यता थी. वहीं के सेल्समैन आपको अपनी पैट चाँदनी चौक. करोल बाग़ या लाजपत नगर की दूकान का पता दे देते थे. धीरे से यह भी बता देते थे कि आप फिक़र ना करें रसीद सुपर बाज़ार / केंद्रीय भंडार की ही मिलेगी.  

सार्वजनिक दफ्तरों में एक बात क़तई बर्दाश्त नहीं की जाती कि एक अकेला आदमी खाता फिरे और खा-खा कर अपनी सेहत बिगाड़ ले और बाकी सूखाग्रस्त इलाके के मवेशियों की तरह इधर-उधर सूंघते फिरें. अत: वहां कमेटियां बना दी गयीं हैं. तरह तरह की रंग-बिरंगी कमेटियां. लोकल परचेज़ कमेटी, स्पॉट परचेज़ कमेटी, एक लाख वाली कमेटी, एक करोड़ वाली कमेटी. इससे हौंसला, हिम्मत और हठ बनी रहती है. कमेटी बनाने के पीछे यही नीयत और नीति काम करती है. जितनी पारदर्शिता सरकारी कामकाज और सार्वजनिक खरीद में है, उतनी तो आपके हमारे घर में भी नहीं. सबको पता होता है कि दो परसेंट देना है या दस परसेंट. किसे देना है और कहां देना है. आप तो वैट अब लाये हैं हमारे यहां वैट न जाने कब से है. हम इसे वेट कहते हैं. वेट यानि वज़न. पारदर्शिता है. बरोबर है. आर.टी.आई. क्या है ? पारदर्शिता है. 



नौकरशाही आर.टी.आई नामक बिकिनी पहनकर इठलाती हुई रैम्प वॉक कर रही है. कहते हैं जिससे खरीदना है उसे एल-1 क्यों कहते हैं. आप नासमझ हैं अगर कहें कि एल-1 का अर्थ लोएस्ट-1 होता है. सच तो ये है इसका अर्थ है लाओ नम्बर-1 अर्थात हमनें इतने सारों में से तुमको चुना है. आओ मेरे प्यारे ! लाओ नम्बर-1  

सार्वजनिक खरीद में जो रक़म ली-दी जाती है उसका मुहावरा कुछ भी होअंडर दि टेबल, गुड्विल मनी, गुडलक मनी, बच्चों के लिये मिठाई, भाभी जी के लिये भेंट, अर्थ एक ही होता है. आजकल उसे यह कह कर जस्टीफाई किया जाता है कि यह तो आपकी वित्तीय क्षमता जानने का जरिया भर है.  वित्तीय कंडीशन जानने का तरीका मात्र है. फर्ज़ करो आपको गैस एजेंसी लेनी है या पेट्रोल पम्प लेना है तो जो भी आप पहले देंगे उसी से तो यह पता चलेगा कि पार्टी फाइनेंशियली कितनी साउंड है. पेट्रोल पम्प चला भी पायेगी या नहीं. कहीं घसखोदों को तो नहीं गैस एजेंसी दे दिये. या कहीं टटपूंजियों को तो नहीं एल-1 कर दिया जो किसी के भी काम न आ सकें और काम भी न हो. फिर जनता ने ही शोर मचा देना है और कहते-फिरना है कि पैसे खा लिये,पैसे खा लिये.  

मैंने एक बार अपने दफ्तर में स्टॉक रजिस्टर मंगाया तो पता चला कि एक वैक्यूम क्लीनर भी है. मैंने कहा लाओ भई और कारपेट साफ करो. जो वो ले कर आया उसे देख कर मेरा मुंह खुला का खुला रह गया. आपको याद है न पहले बर्तनों पर कलई करने वाले एक धौंकनी सी साथ ले कर चला करते थे. बस वही थी और वह बोला सर मेरे पास तो ये ही है तो यह है कहानी सरकारी दफ्तर की. दफ्तर के गोदाम में पड़ा तख्त, कैसे पहले तख्ता और फिर तख्ती बन जाता है. एक पुस्तक खरीद में मैं भी एक कमेटी का सदस्य बन दूसरे शहर गया. ( कमेटी अक्सर दूसरे शहर जाती है ताकि लोग पहचान न पायें) मेरे साथ जो दो सदस्य थे उनका पुस्तकों से वही नाता था जो फैशन-मॉडल का वस्त्रों से. लेकिन वे कमेटी के सम्मानित सदस्य थे और अपने अपने विभाग का प्रतिनिधित्व कर रहे थे. देखते देखते उन्होने मँहगी से मँहगी डिक्शनरी अपने लिये उपहारस्वरूप कबाड़ ही लीं. 



मेरा हैदराबाद का एक मित्र अक्सर अपनी दवाई की कम्पनी के काम से दिल्ली सरकारी दफ्तर में दवाई की सरकारी खरीद के लिये आया-जाया करता था. एक जरूरी मीटिंग के लिये एक बार जब वो आया तो रिशेपशन के लोगों ने उसे घुसने ही नहीं दिया. लाइन में आओ. हमें जब आपके बुलाने के आदेश आयेंगे हम तो तभी आपको छोड़ पायेंगे. अब आपके लिये हम अपनी सरकारी नौकरी तो दाँव पर नहीं लगायेंगे. आपका क्या आप तो प्राइवेट में हैं. फिर बात करते करते आप क्या बनाते हो ? जब उसने कहा दवाई, तो उनका उत्साह थोड़ा ठंडा पड़ा और बोले अगली बार हमारे लिये टॉनिक, विटामिन की दवाई और गिफ्ट ले कर आना तभी पास बनेगा. इस बार तो छोड़ रहे हैं. उनका कहना था कि आप ऊपर तो इतने लाखों रुपये दे देते हो और ये ग़रीब स्वागतकक्ष के दक्ष कर्मचारी आपको दिखते ही नहीं. इतना भी ऊपर मत उड़ो. कुछ तो भूतल वालों का भी ख्याल करो. 

सार्वजनिक खरीद के माध्यम से समझो आपको सोफा खरीदना है. तो जब वो सोफा आपके चैम्बर में आयेगा तो आप कनफ्यूज हो जायेंगे कि इसे सोफा कहते हैं ? इसे सोफा क्यों कहते हैं ? और अगर ये सोफा है तो सोफे को सोफा क्यों कहते हैं ? . सार्वजनिक खरीद वाले बड़े ही स्मार्ट, दिमाग वाले, चुस्त फुर्तीले होते हैं. उन्हें सब पता होता है. वे के.बी.सी. से बहुत पहले के के.बी.सी.  हैं (कब बनेंगे करोड़पति). गज़ब की जनरल नॉलिज होती है उनकी. कहां से क्या क्या मिलेगा. मार्किट सर्वे उनकी फिंगर टिप्स पर होता है. कैसे एक ही वेंडर से तीन और कपोल-कल्पित कम्पनियों के लैटरहैड पर कोटेशन लेनी है.  जिसमें फोन न. अलग हो, पते अलग हों, स्याही-पैन अलग हों. जिस लैवल की खरीद उतनी ही पारदर्शिता रखी जाती है. साफ चमचमाती पारदर्शिता. कोल्ड ड्रिंक, ड्राई फ्रूट से शुरु हो कर इलेक्ट्रोनिक आइटम्स, विदेशी शराब, विदेश सैर, एयर टिकट, स्विस बैंक. हरि अनंत..हरि कथा अनंता की तर्ज़ पर पारदर्शिता अनंत.. पारदर्शिता अनंता और सिर्फ पारदर्शिता ही क्यों दूरदर्शिता अनंता. पहले दिल्ली का अशोक होटल रैड स्टोन का था. लालकिले के माफिक. फिर एक प्रबंध निदेशक महोदय आये उन्हें लगा कि रैड स्टोन मुग़ल काल की याद दिलाता है. मुग़ल काल क्या था ? हमारी दासता, हमारी पराधीनता का काल था. विदेशी आताताईयों का काल था. अत: उन्होंने फौरन आदेश दे कर उसे सफेद पेंट करा दिया. इसे कहते हैं दूरदर्शिता. अब सफेद है तो जल्दी जल्दी गंदा भी होगा. गंदा होगा तो साल दर साल इतने बड़े होटल को सफेद पेंट करा देने मात्र से न जाने कितने प्रबंध निदेशकों की काली कमाई का प्रबंध हो गया. 

हमारे एक अफसर की पत्नी का कहना था वह पहनना तो बहुत चाहती हैं मगर गोल्ड जूलरी उन्हें सूट नहीं करती है. हमारी फैमिली पर कर्स है अत: भैया ! लानी हो तो डायमंड जूलरी ही लाईये. और वो पसंद करने शो रूम भी जातीं थीं. वहीं पसंद करके चली आतीं थीं बाकी पचड़े सार्वजनिक खरीद... नहीं.. खरीद नहीं.. सार्वजनिक फरोख्त वाला निपटाता था. आपने देखी सुनी है कहीं इतनी पारदर्शिता. मेरा मानना ये है कि सार्वजनिक खरीद में और अधिक पारदर्शिता लाने के लिये हर विभाग को एक हैंड बुक, एक गाइड हर साल डायरी की तरह निकालनी चाहिये. जिसमें सब तफसील से दिया गया हो. पेंसिल से ले कर प्लेन तक. नाम-पते हों. किसके लिये किससे मिलना है. और अगला कहां मिलेगा. अगले का क्या रेट है और उस पर कितना डिस्काउंट बगैर हील-हुज़्ज़त के वह कर देगा. फोन न. ई. मेल, पर्सनल मोबाइल न. और इस कूपन को साथ लाने वाले को एडीशनल 5 % की छूट. 

ये टेंडर का डर किसे दिखाते हो जी. अभी दुनाली सर पर रख दी या कट्टा कनपटी पर लगा दिया तो सारी ईमानदारी का वाष्पीकरण हो जायेगा. रह जायेगा दूध का दूध पानी का पानी. पानी तो पारदर्शी होता ही है. आखिर रहीम ने भी कहा है रहिमन पानी राखिये... 

आप यक़ीन करें या न करें मेरा दावा है कि सार्वजनिक खरीद में हमारे देश में जितनी पारदर्शिता है अन्य किसी तथाकथित उन्नत देश में भी नहीं.

दरअसल अगर हम इस से ज्यादा पारदर्शिता लायेंगे तो क़ानून हमें नग्नता फैलाने के आरोप में अंदर कर देगा.



                                       

Sunday, July 15, 2012

अदभुत किंतु सत्य


 एक व्यक्ति राम प्रसाद (बदला हुआ नाम) अपनी मां को हरिद्वार तीर्थ कराने ले गया. मां को गंगा किनारे एक जगह बैठा कर वह कुछ लेने गया. लौट कर देखा तो मां नहीं थी. बहुत ढूंढा मां न मिली. क्या करता, भारी मन से गांव आ वापिस आ गया. पूरी कहानी गांव वालों को सुनाई. कुछ ने शोक जताया, तो कुछ ने कहा देखो कितनी अच्छी मृत्यु लिखा कर आईं थीं, गंगा में डूब गयी आदि आदि. बड़ी धूमधाम से तेरहवीं मनाई. सबने श्रवण कुमार रूपी बेटे की बहुत प्रशंसा की. समय बीतता गया. 

दृश्य-2 इसी गांव का एक व्यक्ति हरिद्वार जाता है. वहां वह जब भिखारियों को भोजन करा रहा होता है और दान-दक्षिणा दे रहा होता है तो राम प्रसाद की मां को पंक्ति में पहचान लेता है. मां फूट फूट कर रोने लगती है.  

ट्विस्ट इन दि टेल : राम प्रसाद अपने घर में रोज रोज की गृह कलह से तंग आकर मां को हरिद्वार यह कह कर छोड आता है कि मां मैं अभी आया. गांव में आकर कहानी सुना देता है कि मां गंगा में बह गयी. लाश भी न मिली. इधर मां यह सोच सोच कर ग्लानि में डूब रही थी और दुखी थी कि हो न हो मेरा बेटा या तो दुर्घटनावश या जान-बूझकर गंगा में डूब गया है. अब मैं किस मुंह से गांव वापिस जाऊं.......?

Friday, July 6, 2012

CHACHA JI



A distant uncle of mine, so close to my dad that both shared the common name by prefixing CHHOTE (uncle was the younger one, hence, chhote) died last week in Delhi. We had known the family ever since we were kids. We are four brothers and a sister. They were opposite i.e. four sisters and a brother. Uncle was working for Auditor General’s office, had humble beginning in his career as an Auditor and by sheer hard work reached respectable level in the bureaucratic hierarchy.  ‘Simplicity, austerity, how to make both ends meet’ if ever there was a book of this title, he could add a chapter or two by what he followed through out his life.  An example, I recollect, he would cut a cake of soap into two halves the other half to be used only after the first half is no more usable as he believed, this way the soap lasts longer. Also he will dispense tooth paste or tooth powder himself to kids early morning, morning after morning.   He gave best of education and married off all his four daughters to fairly decent grooms.  The only son whom my aunt will carry in her lap out of affection and display her prized trophy got everything in silver platter.  VIP of the family, he was treated also like one by the family.  I used to wonder  that he (boy) is old enough to walk why my aunt still carries this over sized boy - word ‘chubby’ got added much later to my vocabulary.  We hardly knew of discrimination, if any, between son and a daughter. The boy was admitted for his graduation to the college nearest to uncle’s house i.e. across the road.  Even then my uncle would be there on this side of the road anxiously waiting for him if he was late even by few minutes.  Though uncle was dead against any woman working, but it was his lot that he got a working daughter- in-law


Two years back, my uncle (retired 15 years back) fell unconscious in a temple never to regain his consciousness.  He went in coma and became a comatose.  His death, last week, in a way, though cruel to say, delivered him from his sufferings.  My uncle never had any bad habit except, perhaps, two cups of tea in a day: 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. by the clock.  He had to suffer and live like a vegetable for two years, nay, for 730 days and nights.  My poor aunt was totally shattered during these long two years due to, one, helplessly seeing her husband die inch by inch and still hope that a miracle will bring him to his normal self, two, by the callous attitude of this VIP son.

The VIP whom aunt would not let go from her lap even when he had become fully grown, able to walk boy declared that he would like to have a separate kitchen.  Residing in his father’s (uncle) house, it required a big heart to make such an unreasonable demand and bigger heart on the part of my uncle to readily agree to it.  Imagine, under one roof two kitchens!  Poor aged and ailing aunt.  Tantrums, contempt and indifference of son and his family grew so much that my aunt was silently praying for an early death of my uncle.  Now that my uncle is cremated, I hear, son has ambitious plans for his father’s property of few crores made singlehandedly through the sweat of his brow. 

 In this entire scheme, my aunt has a place, my uncle would have never wished for his worst enemy.


Epilogue : Seeing chacha ji‘s corpse, my father recollected and sent me this  so very meaningful quote of Saint Kabir, my father  had this in his syllabus way back in 1947. 


सुन गंगाराम पिंजरा पुराना तेरा हो गया
जब तक हंसा रहा पिंजरे में पिंजरा हरा रहा
उड़ गया हंस, पिंजरा खाली, बोलनहारा गया
सात-पांच मिलकर उपाय सुझाया
गठरी-ठठरी बांध लिया
चार जने कंधे पर धर के जंगल वासा करा दिया
डार चिता में काठ चुना तब, पावक उसमें लगा दिया
जला फूंक कर चले कुटुम्बी, भुगतेगा दुख एक जीया
जल में जल, मिट्टी में मिट्टी, सांस पवन में चला गया
कहत कबीर सुनो भई साधो सब रचना को छोड़ गया





Friday, June 22, 2012

THE ROMANCE OF RAILWAY - BANDIKUI



          If you travel 187 K.M. North West of Delhi, you reach Bandikui, a dusty town with magnificent buildings, churches, bungalows of Raj era.  Bandikui was essentially a British township built by the early British Railway men.

            One wonders what possibly necessitated British to choose, of all the places, Bandikui as their District headquarters of Railways in this part of India.  Perhaps it is the salubrious Climate and smoother terrain of Bandikui which largely influenced the decision culminating into a settlement of not less than thousand Britishers Anglo Indians & Indian families.

            It was during the reign of Queen Victoria that the Railways in India was getting deep rooted when Sir John Lawrence (1864 – 69) was Viceroy of India, Survey - an essential pre-requisite for laying Railway track was undertaken of Delhi                                                                   - Jaipur – Ajmer and Agra.  Jaipur- Ajmer Section.

            His Highness Maharaja of Alwar, one of the first few students of Mayo College, Ajmer liberally donated the land for spreading Railway network linking his State with the Railway network.  In 1865, land donation agreement was reached between Maharao Alwar and with Maharaja Jaipur in 1868.

            To begin with, it was known as Rajputan - Delhi Railway, turned into Rajputana State Railway, converted into Rajputana-Malva Railway.  Later in 1907, it was merged with BB&CI Railway Co. (Bombay Baroda & Central India).  The then Government of India took over its management with effect from 01.01.42 and the suffix (Company) was dropped.

            As a result of further rationalization and regrouping it came to be known as today’s Western Railway from 5th November 1951.

            Initially the plans were proposed to construct Broad Gauge -   (2.67 meter wide) something which India had to resort to much later under it’s   much publicized /unique Uni gauge scheme as late as in 1990s.

            Construction was undertaken in the superintendence of Col. F.S. STANTON, the Supdt. Engineer.

            It was in the reign of Lord Northbrook, the Viceroy that the Delhi – Bandikui line was opened in December 1874.

            Bandikui has had the singular distinction witnessing and passing through its territory the royal saloons of Prince of Wales, later Kind Edward VII 1874-1875, King George V, in 1911, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII 1921-22 and the Queen Elizabeth in 1961 on her way to tiger shoot at Bharatpur.

            Though the early surveyors were in favor of Rajgarh, a nearby town close to Alwar to be an appropriate junction station, but the circuitous terrain made more complicated by imposing hill compelled completed to choose Bandikui, a comparatively smoother approach place.

            The idea of a railway to connect Bombay with Thane, Kalyan and with the Thal and Bhore Ghats inclines first occurred to Mr. George Clark, the Chief Engineer of the Bombay Government during a visit to Bhandup in 1843.  A meeting of prominent citizens was later held at Bombay on 13th July 1844, it was presided by Sir Erskine Perry, the Chief Justice.

            At the same time, though the efforts of John Chapman and M/s. White and Barnett Solicitors, Whitehall Place, London, a fresh company was formed in England called, the Great Indian Peninsular Railway Co. and its first prospectus was issued on 15th July, 1844.  According to a manuscript record left by Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, Baronet, one of the first Indian Directors of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway Co. George Stephenson, the great British Locomotive inventor 1781-1848 was among the first Directors of the Company.  His son, Robert Stephenson 1803-59 was appointed Consulting Engineer.  Later an influential Committee was formed in Bombay to work in conjunction with the London Committee to give effect to the Scheme.  The Great Indian Peninsular Railway Co. was thereafter incorporated in England by an Act of Ist August 1849 and the contract between the Court of Directors and the Railway Company requesting the Company to raise a capital of   Pounds 500,000 were made on 17th August 1849.  On 14th November 1849, Mr. J.J. Berkeley was appointed Chief Resident Engineer.  He arrived in India in February 1850 and devoted full twelve months to survey the line.  Mumbai still has a residential colony (Berkeley place) named after him, where once his office was.

            From then onwards events moved at a fast pace.  On 31st October 1850, the ceremony of turning the 1st sod for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway from Bombay to Kalyan was performed by the Hon’ble Mr. J.P. WILLOUGHBY, Chief Justice of Bombay at a place near SION, in the presence of a large number of notable citizens.  This was the first ceremony ever performed in India of laying a Railway line, or for that matter, in any country in the middle and far East.  In 1851, a contract was entered into with M/s./ FARIELL and FOWLER, an English firm for the construction of the Railway line to Thana.  The firm employed as many as 10,000 workers on construction work.

            On 18th February 1852, the first locomotive was witnessed shunting near Byculla flats in Bombay.  The engine made its start from a coppice, and then known as Phips O’ art’ and the scene of its daily shunting became a perfect fair for large crowds of men, women and children.  The locomotive was later named Falkland after Lord Falkland 1848-53, the then Governor of Bombay.  On 18th November 1852, the Company’s Directors with some of their friends traveled in the first railway train from Bombay to Thana, covering the distance of 21 miles in 45 minutes.  They took their breakfast in the Kurla tunnel, the first railway tunnel to be built in India near Thana.

            The formal inauguration ceremony was performed on 16th April 1853, when 14 Railway carriages carrying about 400 guests left Bori Bunder at 3.30 pm amidst the loud applause of a vast multitude and to the salute of 21 guns.  The Governor’s band was present but not His Excellency, the Governor according to the Bombay Times.

            The Governor Lord Falkland and the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Fredrick Fitz Clarence, with their respective attendants accompanied by the Bishop, the Reverend John Harding, left for the hills the evening  previous in disregard of the memorable occasion.

            The day was observed as a public holiday by all Government offices and Banks etc.

            The party reached Thana at about 04.45 pm where refreshments were served in tents and Major Swanson wished success to the new Company and its Chief Engineer Mr. Berkeley.  The guests returned to Bombay at 7 pm.  Next day on 17th April 1853, Sir Jamsatjee Jeejeebhoy, second Baronet reserved the whole train and traveled from Bombay to Thana and back along with the members of his family.

            The first Indian Railway rolled on its tracks just 28 years after the World’s first train had made its initial successful run.  This was in England.  The first train consisting of 38 carriages laden with passengers and goods ran between Stockton and Darlington in 1825.  The railway line was actually commenced in 1821 by the famous inventor of the Steam locomotive, George Stephenson, but it took four years to complete the construction.

            In France, railways started in 1829, in Germany in 1835, in Holland and Italy in 1839 and in Spain in 1848.  The construction of the first railway from St. Peters burg now Leningrad to the suburbs of Pavlovask was completed by a private company in 1837.  The first railway in the United States was opened on a section of 15 miles of the Baltimore – Ohio line in May 1830.  Initially, it was operated by horses and later locomotives were employed.

            Like any other inventions in the early stages, the Railways had to overcome a great deal of prejudices opposition and popular criticism.  It was difficult to convince common people that a journey by rail was safer than by stage coach.  There is this story of a German doctor, who declared that it would be impossible for people to watch the train pass along without going mad and unless hoardings were erected the cow’s milk would turn sour.

            It was not till 13th June 1842, seventeen years after the opening of the first railway line in England that Queen Victoria, advised by her Ministers, deemed it ‘safe’ to take a journey from London to SLOUGH.  Even at this time the hazardous adventure of Her Majesty was looked upon with apprehension and critical disapproval by some of her ‘loyal subjects’.  The ATLAS while complimenting the Queen for her courage, apprehended that

            ‘A long Regency in this country would be so fearful and tremendous an evil that we cannot but desire, in common with many others that these Royal excursions should be, if possible, either wholly abandoned or only occasionally resorted to.  Concluding, it said ‘There is danger by the railway; and therefore, the Queen should be occasionally exposed to it’.

            Louis Phillip of France as late as 1848 was practically forbidden to ‘endanger’ his life on the Railway.  LE COMMERCE tells the story:

            ‘When the King was intending to go with the royal family to his chateau at Bizy be proposed to be conveyed by a special train on the railways as far as Rouen and orders were given to this effect.  But the council of Ministers on being acquainted with His Majesty’s project held a sitting and came to the resolution that this mode of traveling by railway was not sufficiently secure to admit of its being used by the King and consequently His Majesty went to Bizy by post-horses’.

            In England as late as 1835, John Bull denounced the railways as a menace.

            ‘If they succeed’ wrote the paper, ‘they will give an unnatural impetus to society, destroy all the relations which exist between man and man, overthrow all mercantile regulations,  overturn the metropolitan markets, drain the provinces of all their resources, and create at the peril of life, all sorts of confusion and distress.  If they fail, nothing will be left but the hideous memorials of public folly.

            It further remarked: ‘Does anybody mean to say that decent people ... would consent to be hurried along through the air upon a rail road, from which, had a small school boy left a marble, or wicked one a stone, they would be pitched off their perilous track into the valley beneath... being at the mercy of a tin pipe or copper boiler, or the accidental dropping of a pebble on the line of way?....  We denounce the mania as destructive of the country in a thousand particulars..., the whole face of the Kingdom is to be tattooed with these odious deformities – huge mounds are to intersect our beautiful valleys; the noise and stench of locomotive steam engines are to disturb the quietude of the peasant the farmer and the gentleman; and the roaring of the bullocks, the bleating of sheep and the grunting of pigs to keep up one continual uproar of these most dangerous and disfiguring abominations’.

            If this was the reaction outside India, it is not surprising that people in India in the early stages have also opposed the introduction of railways as a ‘hazardous and dangerous venture’ or at best a ‘premature and expensive undertaking’.  There were many among British in England and in India who felt that even if the railways could be started it would be difficult for them to get any passengers.  Doubt was expressed, ‘whether people would be attracted from the bullock cart to the rail and whether religious mendicants  , fakirs, agricultural laborers and other more or less destitute folk who did not “possess an anna” could be persuaded to pay a train fare rather than prefer to meander without any sense of time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

VICTORIA TERMINUS (CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI TERMINUS)


            
 Among the best and also one of the VERY early ones to be built is the Victoria Terminus in Bombay, at Boribunder.  It derives its name from Queen Victoria because the station building was formally opened on Jubilee Day in 1887.  Before 1852 when its first pier was constructed, Boribunder in Bombay was just a landing place for country boats.  The first station at Boribunder was a ‘miserable wooden structure’; most of the upper class passengers boarded trains from Byculla which had a pretentious platform and an attractively built shed.  Originally VT was intended to accommodate only the offices and the main station.  Since 1887, additional buildings at adjoining sites have been erected.  The annexed building was used as a hospital during 1914-18 World War and is now used for offices.  The new station building was opened in 1929 to deal with the main line traffic.  The additions were so designed as to harmonial with the architectural magnificence of the 1887 building and to create an impressive composite effect.  The old and the new stations together comprise one of the largest and busiest terminals anywhere in the World.

            The site on which VT is located is of great historical importance being associated with the very origin of Bombay as a city.  Recent researches into old records show that Bombay derived its name originally from the Goddess Mumba Devi, or Maha Amba.  The earliest temple dedicated to her is believed to have stood at the very place where VT was erected in 1887.  The original shrine was demolished by Mubarak Shah better known as Qutab-ud-Din and was re-erected on 1317.  It was again demolished in 1760 by the Portuguese.  The tank adjoining the shrine continued to be preserved till 1805.   A public gibbet or gallows was constructed by the Portuguese at the site of the tank, from whence the site and the tank derive the name Gibbet Pond.
            Designed by the famous architect, F.W. Stevens in 1887 VT is gothic-Saracenic in style with a series of well proportioned and delicately ornamented arches, giving it the look of a grand cathedral.  This effect is further heightened by a central dome set off by a number of smaller domes and conical towers reminiscent of Westminster Abbey. The lancet windows in the dome and towers are of ornate stained glass and like the rest of the building are made out of solid cut stone masonry, superimposed by delicate artistic work, designed in plaster.  The apex of the dome is crowned by a colossal figure in stone symbolizing ‘progress’.  This figure is 16 feet 6 inches in height.  On the principal gables are displayed sculptural panels representing ‘Engineering Agriculture, Commerce, Science and trade.  The arches and windows are Venetian by style and overlook a 1500 feet façade. The double columns which support the arches of the verandahs and the colonnades are of marble.  Italian granite has been freely used for interior decoration.  The old station was eight platforms while the new Main Line stations which is separated from the old station by a wide road consists of 18 passenger platforms and one platform for parcel traffic.  Both stations have waiting halls, Station  Master Office, booking offices and book stalls.  In addition, the new station building contains a reservation and enquiry office, retiring rooms, restaurants and cloak and check rooms.  Part of the buildings are also occupied by the administrative offices of Central Railway.

Employees:

            ‘The problems affecting railway labour in India’, wrote the Royal Commission on Labour in 1931 ‘are as varied as they are numerous’.  There are several factors peculiar to each Railway which have an important bearing on the conditions of labour pertaining to that particular line.  Among these are the lengths of the railway the territories through which it passes, the climate, ethnological and other features peculiar to these territories, and industrial progress made by the people living therein the scope such progress affords for the satisfactory recruitment of railway labour and the other avenues of employment open to labour.


            It cannot be said of the Railway companies that the wages offered by them will substantially higher than those available to workers in other trade and industries or that the condition of work very much better.  During the first 50 years according to Labour Commission, it was more or less a case of bargaining for the most favourable terms on both sides.  The only notable amenity during this period was the institution in 1880 of a P.F.

            It was not till World War -I that the railways began to give serious thought to the general welfare of low paid employees.  During the war  there was a substantial increase in wages and allowances became necessary and even cheap grain shops were opened to mitigate the effects of rising prices and the mounting index of living.  After World War-I the labour situation became acute.   Prices continued to rise.  There was general demand not only for making permanent the increases which had been sanctioned under duress of emergency, but also for further substantial enhancement of wages and salaries.  The impact of war had also made labour conscious of its rights.  For the first time railway workers started Unions and began to assert themselves collectively for a better deal.

            Before World War – I strikes were rare and unusual and were mostly confined to particular localities or to a small number of workers.  During the years immediately following World War - I, labour Unions began to grow and multiply and became powerful instruments for collective bargaining.  In 1924, the All India Railway man’s Federation had on its affiliated list more than a dozen railway Unions comprising a membership of over 2,00,000.  During this period strikes became common, indicating a general state of distress and dissatisfaction on the part of the railway workers.

            Progressive improvements in the conditions of labour and the amenities granted to them were made.  Hours of work were fixed by statute and payment, O.T. was made compulsory.  The right of workers to form Trade Unions and to resort to collective bargaining was recognized.  Membership of P.F. was extended to more categories of workers.  The benefits of sick leave were made available to inferior staff.  Conditions in workshops underwent considerable improvement.  A large number of Co-operative Societies were started to encourage thrift among labourers.  More funds were made available for improving housing conditions and the general standard of life in workers’ colonies.

            Since 1947, conditions of railway workers have further improved.  The Govt. of India then appointed an Adjudicator, Justice Rajadhyaksha and the Central Pay Commission presided over by Justice Varadachari, the former to consider the hours of work, periodic rest, etc., of railway workers and the latter to go into the whole question of emoluments of Government employees.

            Prior to appointment of the Pay Commission, there were hundreds of scales of pay for employees on Indian Railways.  The scales of pay for identical or similar jobs also varied widely in various parts of the country.  The commission standardized the scales, and reduced the number to less than 30, rating each according to qualifications, degree of skill required and nature and value of work.  It recommended a compensatory and house rent allowance at specified stations.  As a result of increases in wages and salaries recommended by the Pay Commission and later the Joint Advisory Committee for Railways the Railway pay bill for employees registered a steep rise 1946 - 51 without much increase in number of employees.  Hours of work for staff classed as continuous workers were reduced from 60 to 54 and for intermittent workers from 84 to 75 per week and OT allowance increased FROM 1 ¼ times to 1 ½ times the normal rate of pay.  An important change in respect of superior staff during this period, however, has been overall Indianisation of the upper cadres of service.

SUPERIOR STAFF:  The manner in which the superior staff was divided in terms of European and Indian personnel in earlier years is appropriately summed up in the following words of the Acworth Committee (1920-21).



            “At the date of the last report they were employed on the railways of India about 7, 10,000 persons.  Of these, roughly 7, 00,000 were Indians and only 7000 Europeans a proportion of just one percent.  But the 7000 were like a thin film of oil on the top of a glass of water, resting upon but hardly mixing with the 7, 00,000 below.  None of the highest posts are occupied by Indians, very few even of the higher.  The position of a Distt. Engineer, Distt. Traffic Supdtt or of an Asstt. Auditor is, with one or two exceptions, the highest which Indians have hitherto attained.  The detailed figure show that on the principal railway of the country out of 1749 posts classed as superior, 182 or rather more than ten percent are filled by Indians.  Of the 182 Indians, 158 occupy posts and Asstt Distt Officer in the various Departments.  24 have reached the higher grade of Distt. Officer.  That they have not been advanced to higher posts, that even in the subordinate posts of the official staff there are not more of them, has been a standing subject of complaint before us”.

             As a result of the recommendations of the Acworth Committee and in response to strong public opinion expressed in the legislature, greater training facilities were progressively made available to Indians and an increasingly greater number of Indians were admitted to higher posts.  An Indian was taken as Member of the Railway Board and more were admitted in later years.  A few Indians rose to positions of Dy. Commercial Managers, Commercial Managers, Dy. Agents and Agents.  A few others rose to higher posts in the technical and engineering departments.  Even then, up to the time of India’s independence most of the higher posts remained a European preserve.  The Europeans, besides enjoyed salaries, gratuities allowances, bonuses, leave facilities, home leave allowances and several other amenities which according to British opinion were just adequate to attract suitable candidates from Britain but according to Indian politicians represented a heavy drain on the resources of Indian Railways.

RACIAL PREFRENCES:  In the lower services also certain amount of preference was shown for Europeans and Anglo-Indians.  They were paid better salaries and were allowed better amenities and privileges than Indians for the same work.  Europeans and Anglo Indians lived in segregated colonies in railway towns.  They were provided with superior type of quarters.  Special arrangements were made for the education of their children.  Separate institution and clubs were reserved for their entertainment and relaxation and even separate provision was made for medical service.  All these distinctions disappared after 1946.  Merit alone determined a person’s fitness for a particular job.  As and when Europeans retired, suitable Indians were found to fill their places.  While this has involved no change in basic salaries in the upper cadres, considerable economies have resulted from the discontinuance of special allowance and discriminatory facilities which had to be provided to European employees.

NEW ZONES:   The first of the zones was formed on 14th August, 1951 by the re-grouping of the railway system in South India and the inauguration at Madras of the Southern Railway.  Proceeding clockwise on the map of India, the re-grouping of the next two zones resulting in formation of the Central & Western Railways was completed on 5th November, 1951.  Central Railway was formed by the amalgamation of the G.I.P, the Nizam’s State, the Scindia and the Dholpur Railway.  Western Railway was Constituted by merging into the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (BB &CI), the Saurashtra, the Rajasthan and Jaipur Railways.


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