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Railway ministry: 8 achievements that really aren’t

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New Delhi: During the one year of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s term, the ministry of railways has claimed several “new beginnings” and “key reforms”. Among its achievements: More rail track (1,375 km) electrified in one year than ever before; earnings increased 12 percent; more bio-toilets installed; and a feasibility report received from Japan for the Mumbai-Ahmadabad bullet train during 2014-15. Pune_Karjat_passenger_Indian_Railways

Fact Checker took a look at the claims and the reality.

  • Twelve percent rise in earnings due to “key reforms”: Earnings lower than previous two years.

Claim: An increase of 12.2 percent increase in earnings during 2014-15 due to “key reforms in railways.

Reality: The 12 percent increase in earnings during 2014-15 compared with 2013-14 is lower than the 19 percent and 12.9 percent respectively, during each of the previous two financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14.

  • Record electrification of rail track: It happens every year

Claim: 1,375 km of railway electrification completed during 2014-15, termed best-ever for Indian Railways.

Reality: Electrification data reveal such records are set every year. The increase in electrification between 2013-2014 and 2014-15 in terms of “route kilometers” is the least when compared to consecutive years over the past eight years (barring 2010-11).

  • Bio-toilets, a key achievement: Yes, since 2009

Claim: Bio-toilets have been stated as key achievements by railways for 2014-15.

Reality: Bio-toilets, which treat human waste instead of letting it on to the tracks, were first installed in 2009: 11,777 bio-toilets have been installed in 4,356 passenger coaches till June 30, 2014.

  • Study Done For Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train: Series of such studies over 13 years

Claim: Feasibility report from Japan on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train.

Reality: Parliament data show a series of feasibility (or prefeasibility) studies between 2002 and 2015.

  • Helpline is launched: It was ready for launch before UPA quit

Claim: Launching of a security helpline for passengers.

Reality: The plan was first approved for 2010-11 and just before the previous government finished its term, the ground work, including finalising the nodal railway zone (Northern Railway), executing agency, budget (Rs 5.2 crore) and signing an agreement with the telecom ministry, had been done.

  • 108 Adarsh (ideal) stations: Routine since 2009

Claim: Passenger facilities improved at 108 stations under the Adarsh-stations scheme.

Reality: This is a routine affair, since the Adarsh-stations scheme kicked off in 2009 (to provide drinking water, toilets, catering services, waiting rooms and dormitories, especially for female passengers, better signage).

  • Meghalaya gets a rail line: Work has been on for 19 years

Claim: Lumding-Silchar broad gauge section inaugurated, Meghalaya comes on the rail map.

Reality: Gauge conversion work of Lumding-Silchar section started in 1996-97. There was often no money to continue the line or law-and-order problems delayed work. The target date was extended several times over the past few years.

  • World Bank Loan for Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor: Approved by the previous government

Claim: Agreement signed for $1.1-billion loan from the World Bank for the Eastern Dedicated Freight (EDF) corridor.

Reality: The $1.1-billion loan from the World Bank for EDF corridor-II was approved on April 22, 2014, before Modi’s term began.

By Manoj K

(IANS)

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Know How Grammy Award Winner Inspired by PM Modi to Dedicate Music to Environment

From songs like "Ganga" - depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians - to his Grammy-winning album "Winds of Samara" - which speaks of peace and global harmony

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grammy award winner, modi
"What was to be a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister turned into an hour-long discussion with him on environment. He spoke on the impact music could have on society and inspired me to make music on environment," Kej told IANS in an interview here. Wikimedia

A chance meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2015 in New Delhi inspired Bengaluru-based Grammy Award winner Ricky Kej to dedicate his life and music to the cause of environment.

Since then, Kej, who has represented India on global fora, performing at venues including the United Nations General Assembly in New York and UN Headquarters in Geneva, has been using music to flag ecological issues to policymakers and public the world over.

“What was to be a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister turned into an hour-long discussion with him on environment. He spoke on the impact music could have on society and inspired me to make music on environment,” Kej told IANS in an interview here.

From songs like “Ganga” – depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians – to his Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samara” – which speaks of peace and global harmony – Kej’s music connects with all — from world leaders to the man on the street.

With the aid of compelling visuals, Kej’s music, and collaborations with global music artists, highlights the deleterious consequences of urbanisation, climate change and human-animal conflict.

modi, grammy award winner
From songs like “Ganga” – depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians – to his Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samara” – which speaks of peace and global harmony – Kej’s music connects with all — from world leaders to the man on the street. Wikimedia

“There are so many issues in India like child labour, gender inequality and poverty, which none seem to be reflecting through music. We see that music has lost the identity of being an art form and has become a profession,” he lamented.

Kej, 37, bagged Grammy in 2015 for the ‘Best New Age Album’ for “Winds of Samsara”, created along with South African flautist Wouter Kellerman. He is also recognised as the ‘United Nations Global Humanitarian Artist’ for his music with environmental consciousness.

The subjects of Kej’s music include, the rising air pollution in global cities and towns, the perils being posed to wildlife due to urbanisation and the story of Republic of Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean off Fiji, whose coasts are receding each year due to rising ocean levels due to global warming, among others.

With 15 studio albums released internationally, 3,500 commercials, three feature films in Kannada and over 100 music awards in 20 countries to his credit, the conservationist-musician’s album “Shanti Samsara” was released by Modi and then French President Francois Hollande at the United Nations Conference of Parties (CoP-21) Climate Change Conference in Paris, held from November 30-December 12, 2015.

The album, conceived after his meeting with Modi, had Kej collaborate with about 500 musicians from 40 countries, for songs like “Ganga”, throwing light on the pollution plaguing the river, and on “Earth and Water”.

“Politicians and policymakers are used to statistics and numbers, but when one approaches them through art, it makes a lot of difference. I have seen politicians change their perspectives towards environmental causes after attending my concerts,” Kej asserted.

The element of environment and nature in his work comes from his own experiences. For instance, he composed the song “One With Earth” – which highlights natural farming and the need to give up chemical fertilisers – after he lived with the tribals in Andhra Pradesh’s Araku Valley to understand their lifestyle and traditional farming techniques.

Grammy award winner, modi
“There are so many issues in India like child labour, gender inequality and poverty, which none seem to be reflecting through music. We see that music has lost the identity of being an art form and has become a profession,” he lamented. Wikimedia

Born in 1981 in North Carolina in the US, Kej moved to Bengaluru with family when he was eight, with intense love for music and nature.

“As a child, I felt music and nature were connected and found music in the sounds of nature, birds and animals. I used to look at music as a way of understanding history, cultures and emotions from different parts of the world. A lot of my education was through music,” said Kej, who was part of a rock band “Angel Dust” during his class 12th from Bishop Cotton Boys’ School in Bengaluru.

Even as Kej pursued a dental science course on his father’s advice, he continued to create music and decided to pursue it full-time on completing the degree.

“Like most musicians, I started my career with popular music and later turned to heavy metal and jazz. I finally zeroed in on world music as it connects with the people the world over, irrespective of the language they speak,” Kej recalled.

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As a professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in the renowned Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus in this tech hub, the musician believes his job is to approach environmental subjects artistically.

“Numbers don’t hit people as hard as visuals and art can. My job as a musician is to drive the numbers and data through emotions,” Kej added. (IANS)