Do you know what this is?
It’s a railway engine. But this is not just any railway engine. This particular one packs 12,000 horses and is built by the French major Alstom. With this, we will join countries like Germany, China, Russia and Sweden in having locomotives that can pull 12,000 horsepower. Until now, the best that Indian Railways could do was 6000 horsepower.
And these amazing machines are going to be “Made in Bihar,” at the factory that Narendra Modi inaugurated in Madhepura the other day.
The power of the Indian Railways doubled from 6000 HP to 12000 HP in four years of Modi Sarkar. It goes without saying that a manufacture of this scale involves thousands of jobs for young people in Bihar.
Of course Modi is stealing credit here. In his time as Railway Minister, Honorable Lalu Yadav ji announced this factory. But the project failed to get off the ground during UPA years, possibly due to an RSS conspiracy. Nevertheless, we thank Laluji for dreaming big like Rajiv Gandhi.
This is the kind of long term development that builds the nation. It is the kind of event that celebrity journalists like to bury in the back pages as they chase the sexy new intolerance event at JNU.
Modi’s massive infrastructure push is the most (deliberately?) under-reported story of the last few years. The status of a nation in the global economy, its position in international trade, is all dependent on the capacity of its ports. The capacity of a port is measured in terms of TEUs or “Twenty-foot equivalent units,” the worldwide standard size of a shipping container.
The Chinese already have 15 ports with over 20 million TEU capacity each. India’s largest container terminal, the JNPT had a mere capacity of 4.8 million units. Until Feb 2018, when Modi inaugurated the new terminal at JNPT, which adds another 2.4 million units. That is a 50% increase in handling capacity under Modi sarkar.
And in case you were wondering, work on this terminal began in 2015 and was completed in just 3 years, although I am sure this terminal must also have been Rajivji’s dream at some point. Only 4.8 million TEU capacity created between 1989 and 2015, but 2.4 million TEU added between 2015 and 2018.
Somebody must tell the PM that the trick to getting re-elected is to move slowly and space out projects over decades. In the meantime, 2-3 generations of his family can rule turn by turn. That’s why the port is called JNPT; I am afraid that nothing will be named after you Modi ji.
In order to pull the world’s fastest growing major economy, the Indian Railway needed to get heavier and stronger. And the power of the Railway just doubled. This is the future. And it is being made in Bihar right now!
In one of the early scenes of the movie Half Girlfriend, we see the young protagonist, a student from Bihar struggle with the handicap of being weak in English before a St. Stephens’ College admissions panel. And with the humiliation of being asked : “Why is Bihar the way it is?”
Fighting back his tears, the student replies that Bihar has not always been this way. That Bihar is a shining star of India’s history. That Nalanda University, the greatest seat of learning in the ancient world, is in Bihar. That some of India’s greatest national icons from Gautam Buddha to Emperor Ashoka to Guru Gobind Singh were from Bihar. But he also has to submit to the fact that the last several decades have been bad for Bihar.
Well, if Narendra Modi has his way, no one will ever ask again: Why is Bihar the way it is?
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.