Flexi-fares a bad idea
Apropos of the report “No roll back of rail flexi fare” (FE, September 12), such a move speaks volume about the indecisiveness of the Indian Railways, as it is in sharp contrast with its earlier stance of reviewing the flexi-fare scheme in January 2017, after a trial implementation. Strange are the ways of working of the ministry of railways as it, frequently, it doesn’t do its homework and takes recourse in U-turns when there are valid public protests over its decisions. One feels highly disappointed over the government’s decision to continue with surge-pricing, notwithstanding the nationwide opposition to the move. It was least expected from a progressive minister like Suresh Prabhu. One is appalled that he would choose to exploit the monopoly status of the Indian Railways to fill the Railways’ coffers. Could he ever dare to do so if there were many other players in the game? As regards the supporting data put forward by the Railway Board, it goes without saying that all such ‘data’ is drawn to suit one’s own requirements. Had the Board quoted the relevant data on passengers’ safety and on the fulfillment of all the tall promises made by the railway minister, in the context of matching the hikes in rail-fares with the corresponding improvements in facilities, the Railways would have had to reconsider its move. In any case, the government shouldn’t be over-confident in refuting the perception that the new flexi fare scheme will prompt 2AC and 3AC passengers to migrate to low-cost airlines. It may perhaps soon realise that it has scored a self-goal by taking the passengers for a ride. Why does the Railways continue to subsidise VIPs, politicos and thousands of its own staff? Why should the common man bear the cost of such political expediency? It is high time that the ministry stopped robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Kumar Gupt, Panchkula (Haryana)
Plan holistically to fix pulses
Apropos of the editorial “Getting the pulse right” (FE, September 12). We have been addressing the supply/demand and pricing of cereals, pulses and sugarcane in separate modules. And one or the other poses cyclical problems. The inputs for production of all three share a common corpus, be it water, land or the labour of the farmer. As we seek to address the distress arising in each sector in isolation, we lose sight of an integrated and holistic plan. Misplaced incentives, ad hoc export restrictions, out-of-sync imports, befuddled sowing plans, etc, all create and sustain a cycle of demand-supply mismatch. There must be a long-term plan, sowing-season-wise, that integrates all factors of production, expected demand, export/import assessment, storage-capacity available, MSP, etc. Trigger points need to be assessed on a continuous basis and monitored with particular reference to regional precipitation to initiate corrective actions. Agro-planning is serious business and, for this large and diverse nation,we can no longer leave it to the weather gods and run-of-the-mill administrative action and to the infinite patience of the consumer.
R Narayanan, Ghaziabad
This refers to the editorial “Virtual classes” (FE, September 12). By teaching difficult concepts through visual representation, virtual learning surely makes learning fun and less boring. It supplements your conceptual understanding of different subjects. However, it can never be an alternative to the old learning method of reading. Online learning fails to impart the employable skills the companies are looking for. There is a need to create a single virtual learning environment, approved by the government, which provides credible and valuable certification.
Gaurav Singhal, Rewari (Haryana)