Ramesh Kumar

 

Ramesh Kumar, an Economics graduate from the University of Madras, spent his entire career spanning 35 years in the world of publishing: print, TV and web focused on business/economics. He has worked in India and the Persian Gulf (2005-9), helping launch print publications, TV (news & current affairs) stations and websites.

 

He began his career with Macmillan India and traversed through various publications such as Gentleman, GFQ, Technocrat, Business Computers, The Indian Post, The Independent, Free Press Journal, Mid-Day (Bombay), Observer of Business & Politics, Business India TV (TVI), Jain TV, Doordarshan etc. Between 2005 and 2009, he was associated with United Media Services, Muscat, Oman as Group Editor of Oman Economic Review, Alam Aliktisaad Walamaal, Signature, Al Mara, OER Dossier; and moved as Strategic Editorial Advisor to OmanTribune, Muscat, Oman. He also advised INSURE magazine, published from Dubai Media City, UAE.

Until recently, he was one of three key founding-editors of Logistics Times. Now he is associated with the SAARC Centre for Transport Studies, a research outfit.

Besides, he regularly contributes to Automotive Logistics Magazine and Finished Vehicle Logistics Magazine of London, UK; and Logistics Insight Asia of Singapore. 

He has written a book, 10,000 Km on Indian Highways, based on his personal experience of travelling in trucks and trailers.

Nepal is a landlocked mountainous country with India in the east, west and south and China in the north. The geographical condition makes the development of infrastructure extreme difficult and expensive.  Roadways are the major mode of transport in Nepal, besides aviation is also serving to some extent. The presence of railway is negligible.

Presence of railways is negligible in Nepal while airway is limited and expensive. Therefore road transport is the major mode of transport and plays a significant role in connecting various parts of the country. Although roadway is the major mode of transport it remains underdeveloped with poor quality. Road capacity in Nepal is very low with most highways having one lane per direction. Because of such factors the rate of road accidents is extremely high. Poor quality of roads and poor maintenance has resulted in cracks and potholes, which are also the reasons for traffic accidents. These are the infrastructural factors of road accidents.

Railways and roadways are the two principal modes of moving men and material from place to place. Over the years the share between the two has been tilting in favour of roadways. There are varying reasons for this which are so compelling that the tilt in favour of roadways not only it is going to be permanent but shall also continue to increase.

Following a knee-jerk decision a large number of buses were brought on Delhi roads, but no rational system having being brought in place. This led to cut-throat competition among the drivers who were virtual owners of the vehicles and were deficient in training. This led to rash driving which led to increasing number of accidents. So much so that the Supreme Court had to step in and direct that the  buses operating in Delhi may be fitted with speed governors. Obviously the apex court considered speed as the cause for accidents though rash driving was at the root.

 

This is apropos the report by Shipping Bureau in the Economic Times of 30th April, 2012 “Policy Paralysis Puts Government, Road Transport Operators in a Bind”. This has some vital factual inaccuracies on which I feel like duty bound to put the record straight and thus enable your readers to draw their own conclusions :-

Thanks to unintended lacuna in our constitution, the concerns of the Central Government vis-a-vis road transport are diagonally opposite of that of the State Governments. This is so glaring  in the  case of overloading of trucks.

The phase was when private was distrustful and smacked of being monopolistic. Nationalization was the panacea. It was then that the insurance companies, all of which were in the private domain, were taken over by the Government and turned into four monoliths called Public Sector Undertakings Insurance Companies.

Fleet modernization assumes importance if India has to improve efficiency all-around. Considering the fact that the fleet owners, by and large, are small and marginal operators with the fleet strength of 5 or 10 and it is still an unorganized sector, they need financial incentives to buy new vehicles. Bank loans are hard to come by, forcing them to knock on the doors of non-banking financial institutions where the cost of borrowing is pretty stiff. Therefore, the Working Group’s attention to this issue is noteworthy.

Fifty plus Arun Kumar Agarwal, Divisional Manager-Driver Training at Ashok Leyland Driver Training Institute in Burari, on the outskirts of urban Delhi, is clear. Our focus of discussion on what causes accidents on road and he has his list of “Common Driving Mistakes”. What are they?

Ask the Government of India the following:

(a) What is the total length of National or State Highways?

(b) What is the budget allocation for the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways?

(c) How much money has been pooled under the Central Road Fund through the cess on petrol?

(d) How much money the government will be collecting through Bridges and Roads this fiscal?

(e) What is the actual freight carried on Indian roads?

(f) What is the actual transaction cost of freight carried by lorries?