(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.