La administración de los ferrocarriles de la India

NUEVA DELHI – Todos los años en el mes de febrero, el Parlamento de la India cumple con un ritual curioso y excepcional. El ministro de Ferrocarriles (cartera que hoy en día existe en pocas democracias) presenta el “presupuesto para los ferrocarriles” a la Cámara Baja para su aprobación. Una cámara abarrotada está totalmente pendiente de cada una de sus palabras.

Ese procedimiento comenzó en la época del Raj británico, cuando el presupuesto para los ferrocarriles rivalizaba con el del resto del Gobierno de la India. Naturalmente, los ingresos actuales de los ferrocarriles, que ascienden a 23.000 millones de dólares, ya no son comparables con el presupuesto del país, que ahora asciende a unos 268.000 millones de dólares, pero los ferrocarriles de la India siguen produciendo otras  cifras alucinantes: transportan diariamente a 23 millones de pasajeros (más de 8.000 millones al año, más que la población total del mundo) en 12.617 trenes que conectan 7.172 estaciones por una red de 65.000 kilómetros (40.000 millas); y, con 1,31 millones de empleados, los ferrocarriles son la mayor empresa del país.

En una palabra, los ferrocarriles son el motor de la economía de la India, pues afectan a las vidas de todos los segmentos de la sociedad y desempeñan un papel fundamental en el transporte de personas, carga y sueños por un paisaje congestionado. Aun así, hay mucho que arreglar.

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