July 31, 2010

Two pieces of cardboard

(Some thoughts that came out of a twitter stream last night. Thought they should have been here in the first place. Excuse any incoherence, I just slapped this together from the tweets).

Been brooding about this term "worldclass", heard plentifully these days in connection with sundry airports, Games, and the like. What is this word anyway? Do we become so only by building shiny new stuff? What about by making existing systems work?

I mean, why is the litter and trash on my street picked up by a woman carrying two pieces of cardboard and a basket on wheels? The *same* woman has walked my street with those (same?) cardboards for 10+ years now. Is that worldclass? Should it be?

We make much of Delhi's new terminal 3 (T3) which can handle 33 million passengers a year. A quick calculation, erring on the conservative side where necessary, tells me that Churchgate station can handle … take a guess, how many? … 150 million passengers a year. Five times as many as T3. Actually, to me Churchgate is worldclass in merely that ability to handle passengers. Yet have you heard anyone call Churchgate a worldclass station? Dadar? VT? And besides that, will we ever work on our stations to make them shine like T3 does? My wife was at VT this morning and called to remark how filthy it was as she walked through. Are you surprised? Would she say that about T3? What peaks of outrage would we climb if it was indeed filthy, as we run up to the Commonwealth Games?

I mean, Bombay's suburban train system handles close to 2 billion passengers a year, nearly twice the entire population of this country. There is no airport in this country that handles that kind of load. (That's sixty times T3's celebrated capacity). Yet there is almost no airport in this country that is not being revamped feverishly. I am yet to see any serious revamping of any of our stations, let alone feverishly.

I could go on. Roads, education, health, justice, governance, plenty more.

Building shiny things is, in the end, easy. I wish giving that woman something better than cardboard to pick up the trash with were as easy. That would be worldclass.


Boskoe said...

Well written (as usual) and thought provoking points, Dilip! I agree completely with you. BTW, can you share the sources of the statistics quoted in the post?

wise donkey said...

necessities remain a luxury for the masses, while luxury remains the necessity for few.
maybe because of India has more rich people than poor now

Dilip D'Souza said...

Boskoe: some of it extrapolated from my post on the sealink here. LEt me know if you want me to explain the extrapolation.

The IRFCA link there mentions a figure of 6m passengers/day using the Bom suburban system. Straight multiplication gave me the 2bn, of course you have to allow for weekends and holidays etc, but 2 bn won't be far wrong.

wd: thought-provoking. thanks for that link.

Rajan Shastri said...

For one thing our people are to blame for indiscriminately throwing garbage on the street. On the other hand each retail store, residential buildings on main thoroughfares and corner buildings should be mandated to have street accessible garbage cans. Some could be for recyclables, others for decompostables and yet others for garbage. Then people can be coaxed, pleaded with, educated to use these garbage cans. This will enable the municipality to better utilize its clean up crew.