Khawaja Saad Rafique’s experience in Railways is zero but so was the experience of Laloo Prasad Yadev, the Indian minister of Railways, who turned around world’s most corrupt, lethargic, lousy, in-loss and terrible rail service into a world class service with annual profits soaring and passengers verifying their belief in the service.
Khawaja Saad Rafique already bring few great things with him on the table as he takes charge of this frightening ministry, which has been literally demolished by former minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour through corruption, nepotism, kickbacks, inefficiency, incompetence, and lethargy. Saad Rafique is energetic, educated, solid, ambitious, upright, corruption-free, and sincere political worker who has risen from the grass root and his only survival in the politics is to perform and deliver.
But to manage the present Railways ministry, Saad Rafique needs to do much more than that. Pakistan and India are somewhat similar countries and Saad Rafique can learn from Laloo Prasad Yadev a lot. Even the Harvard University learned from his achievements. Following are few salient points which Laloo performed to turn around the Railways in India.
- He generated employment around the ministry to make it more active and lucrative. He banned plastic cups and cutlery and ordered usage of earthen cups and cutlery made by the rural communities. This business activity generated lots of activity on small and medium stations and provided low cost option to Railways and employment to the rural areas. For food to be served from Railways, he also resorted to the rural providers, and that had the same effect saving Railways millions of rupees.
- Surprise visits at ungodly hours was the hallmark of Laloo’s tenure. He used to visit small and big stations at midnight or at 4am. He used to sit there and check the registers of attendance. He didn’t fire anybody but deducted the salaries of the unattended employees. He was known to appear at any station at any night and that had a magical effect on attendance.
- Like Pakistan Railways, Indian Railways real revenue comes from the freight. Laloo especially focused on the goods train and used to check their consignment and found that most of therm were under-assessed. He took extreme actions against those involved and saved millions of rupees each year.
- Laloo’s tenure initally was infested with train accidents and mishaps, but he didn’t blink. He formed a joint force of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Government Railway Police (GRP), and made that they keep patrolling the lines and stations and keep checking for any inefficiency. That improved the quality of service a lot.
- Laloo made train travel more cheaper and attractive. Yes, when the Railways was in loss, instead of increasing fares, he maintained the price and offered free tickets to the job-seekers. Saad Rafique can do that for the people traveling to big cities.
- Laloo identified the lines on which poor traveled most. He increased the trains and firstly improve service there and that alone provided massive revenue.
- Laloo promised model railway stations and gauge conversion works and basic necessities there and he delivered.
Laloo Prasad turned around a bankrupt Indian Railways into a profitable giant with 110 billion rupees (2.47 billion dollars) surplus. Khawaja Saad Rafique needs to learn from him. He has no choice in my opinion.