[2005-07-31] Progress

In recent times, I have been quite impressed by the progress shown by some of the government units in making the lives of the people much simpler.

The most impressive change is in the automated railway enquiry system (dial 139) of the Southern Railway. It features voice-recognition now so that you just speak out the name of the train instead of having to remember the number of the train. It has worked flawlessly all of the times that I have tried it. Their site also allows you to track trains in real time. This is a level of automation that I haven't even seen in a private enterprise.

I have been able to apply for a PAN card online which arrived within the month, get my new voter's identity card within an hour, file my income-tax returns within five minutes, pay my property-tax within five minutes without leaving the apartment complex, get a broadband DSL connection that provides more value for money and on better terms than those from any of the private operators, et cetera. This is a level of progress that the people in my father's generation still can not believe is happening and that the people in my generation still do not think is enough. I believe it is unfair for us to perpetually curse the government without appreciating just how much progress has been made. If you do not believe me, just ask your father or mother.

By the way, our country is now at a stage where we find that the fares by plane to reach a destination are sometimes lower than the fares by train (even by second class). Low-cost airlines have certainly led to a big boom in air travel (for example, almost all of my colleagues travel only by air now) and the resultant congestion at airports like those in Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore which are totally unprepared for this kind of traffic. Once again, the fact that ordinary middle-class people would be able to afford air travel is something that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Another thing is that our generation is prepared to shell out extra money if it saves time, while it used to be just the other way round a generation ago.

Other Posts from 2005