Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Now On Fast Track

Mangalyaan ensured that the admiration for Credible Bharat should grow, particularly at a time when the nation’s Prime Minister spoke with distinct pride about (MOM ) Mars Obiter Mission. Out of the 51 missions made across the world to Mars, only 21 had succeeded. And, Bharat got it right at the very first shot. And now Bharat has signed a MoU with Japan for Bullet Train.
So, Bharat is going to get its first bullet train and predictably, everyone is upset about it since the simmering bears an uncanny resemblance to the upsurge that followed Bharat’s maiden trip to Mars at a record cost of Rs 4.5 billion rupees (Rs 7 per kilometre) a fraction of what NASA’s own Maven cost the USA.
The cost mattered because it, in a way, muffled the cacophony a mission of this nature would elicit from “critics” anywhere in the world. Critics feel that “What was the need to spend money on going to Mars when there is so much poverty, lack of education, lack of good roads, lack of power and so on and forth…”
Mangalyaan ensured that the admiration for Credible Bharat should grow, particularly at a time when the nation’s Prime Minister spoke with distinct pride about (MOM ) Mars Orbiter Mission. Out of the  51 missions made across the world to Mars, only 21 had succeeded. And, Bharat got it right at the very first shot.
But that would never impress those whose agenda was, has and will be to thrive by showcasing Bharat’s misery to the world. Lobbies across minority communities spoke, and patronisingly too, about how Bharat managed to make the Mangalyaan Mission possible without the intervention of IITians . And how, the scientists responsible for MOM were, in fact, those from smaller institutions in towns across the nation and so forth.

Bharat and Japan have signed a MoU on December 12th, 2015 on cooperation and assistance in the Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project (referred by many as Bullet Train project).
Japan has offered an assistance of over Rs 79,000 crore for the project. The loan is for a period of 50 years with a moratorium of 15 years, at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent. The project is a 508-kilometre railway line costing a total of Rs 97,636 crore, to be implemented in a period of seven years.
While, the bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will cost Rs 97,636 crore and be built over seven years, the entire amount will not be spent in one year as is suggested, and with mischievous intent, across media. The comparisons with budgets of health, education, road and highways would inevitably be incorrect as a spending to be carried out over a period of seven years is being compared with spending carried out over a year. The indicators for both would have to be the same for any comparison of sorts.
And now, the bullet train is seen as a “criminal waste” of money. Spending Rs 98,000 crore on a bullet train “to connect two cities”, looks like an “absurdly wasteful” investment. But then, when viewed in isolation, that would be the case with any sort of expenditure. So, the critics put up a chart to validate their vengeance: A chart that “shows just how absurdly wasteful Modi’s Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train line is,” and maintains that the Centre allotted Rs 43,000 crore for Highways in 2015-16; Rs 42,000 crore for  Schools; Rs 42,000 crore for  Railways; Rs 30,000 crore for  Health; Rs 25,000 crore for safety investment in Railways and Rs 2, 40, 00,000 crore for Swachh Bharat.
So, by that logic, a skewed-as-ever media says: “India should be on a toilet overdrive, yet the government of India is going to spend huge amount of its Swachh Bharat Mission outlay for 2014-15 on building a somewhat-fast train line between two cities already superbly connected by road, rail and air.”
All of that is as simplistic as Bharat’s ‘progressive’ media would like to water it down. Social media is, and predictably too, rabid with quips and posts by Liberals and critics on Mr Narendra Modi’s larger-than-life dreams and expenditures that risk robbing Bharat’s masses of basics like health and education.
More importantly, what most experts refuse to detail, as is their nature to skim over what matters, is that almost 80 per cent of the project is being financed on a very soft loan from Japan.Further, the loan comes with a 15-year moratorium which means that Bharat does not need to start repaying the loan immediately. It will do so fifteen years down the line.
It is a win-win situation for Bharat and we are in good hands.

(In this weekly column ‘Credible Bharat’ in Organiser independent editor, legal counsel and film-maker Gajanan Khergamker will tackle issues of law, tolerance, secularism and Bharat’s age-old contribution to peace)
- To download a PDF version of the latest column click https://app.box.com/s/twj923x9y95so37jpahfsk9n705cfzjn
- To view the column online click http://epaper.organiser.org/ (Page 22) OR click http://organiser.org/Encyc/2016/1/4/CredibleBharat---Now-On-Fast-Track.aspx

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