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‘India needs Bullet Trains to leap forward’

Sugandha Jindal, an IRTS (Indian Railways Traffic Service) Officer Trainee and an alumnus of Apeejay Panchsheel Park, says solving people issues and making profit can go hand-in-hand

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The Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) is one of the Group ‘A’ services options, available for candidates who have successfully cleared the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Exam. This service primarily manages the transportation department of the Indian Railways and is also majorly responsible for income generation. Sugandha did Economics Honours from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University and pursued Master in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics. She is currently undergoing training at the National Academy of Indian Railways, Vadodara, Gujarat. In an informal chat, the 2019 Batch IRTS Officer talks about the lessons she learned at school, why she got into the civil services, the importance of Bullet Trains, and more. Edited excerpts:

How was your school life?

I studied in Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, from Nursery till class 12. It was the best phase of my life and I made some really good memories. The best part of my school is that it gives special emphasis on extracurricular activities. I took part in numerous events which equipped me with essential life skills, including how to embrace diverse opinions. The school has solid infrastructure and I especially loved the massive auditorium. The teachers too helped us to develop a strong personality and gave prominence to communication skills. The training I received in school helped me face the real world with confidence. 

Who or what inspired you to get into the Civil Services?

My father introduced me to the Civil Services during my school days. However, initially I didn’t have the burning desire to get into the Civil Services, but as the time progressed, I became more attracted to it. What I like about Civil Services is that it allows you to make a big impact in the life of a common man through making reforms, bringing new infrastructure and making new policies. One of the obvious reasons is also that it’s a respectable job that offers good perks and stability. Talking about my journey, I worked as a Business Analyst with American Express for a year before deciding to quit my job in 2018 and start my UPSC preparations. I was lucky enough to crack the exam in my first attempt through self-study. I have noticed that earlier aspirants used to start their preparation after graduation or post-graduation, but nowadays they begin their preparation during graduation itself.

Do you think that the lure of power is one of the big reasons why people join civil services? 

The lure of power might attract an aspirant in the beginning, but the process to become an IAS officer is so gruelling that the lust for power itself won’t help you reach your destination. Cracking civil services requires one to have a holistic view on national and international issues, tonnes of discipline and persistence sprinkled with a fair degree of intelligence.

India’s first high-speed Bullet Train is expected by 2026. According to you, does India really need a Bullet Train or is it a waste of public exchequer?

India needs Bullet Trains to leap forward. We are lagging behind our neighbours, especially China, which has the world’s largest network of high-speed railways. The signing of the bullet train agreement between India and Japan has generated a lot of debate on the feasibility of the project. Most people who criticise the Bullet Train seem unaware of how it works. For instance, in 1964, Japan opened its first  Bullet Train route connecting Tokyo and Osaka. It brought down the travel time from seven hours to just four. Over the years, the Tokaido Shinkansen, Japan’s  Bullet Train, became synonymous with modern Japan and signifies qualities like speed, efficiency and reliability. It also has an impeccable safety record, with zero fatalities in over 50 years of operation. We should also keep in mind that  Bullet Trains have a spillover effect in the form of market integration, enhanced investment, proliferation of advanced technologies and ecological benefits.

Can Indian Railways simultaneously focus on profits and public good?

YesI believe solving people’s issues and making profit can go hand-in-hand. For instance, we have so many profit-making PSUs and public entities including Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).  In fact, India has earned a foreign exchange revenue of approximately $ 35 million and 10 million euros from 2019-21 through the commercial launch of foreign satellites on board Indian vehicles. This shows that when you are making profit you are automatically serving the people. I think that with its ongoing transformative initiatives Indian Railways will be highly profitable in the coming years.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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