Building ‘Naya J&K’: Train to Kashmir not far away


New Delhi, Sep 17 | Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who recently visited J&K, announced that the train would reach Kashmir by 2024. He also assured that Jammu-Poonch railway link would be completed after addressing viability issues of the area.

The foundation stone of the railway project to connect Kashmir with the rest of the country was laid by the then Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in 1997 and since then it has missed many deadlines.

The idea of bringing organised transport to Kashmir was first floated in 1898 and was followed in 1902 and 1905 by the then British government. It intended to reach the region by rail, including a 2 feet or 2 feet 6 inch gauge electric railway climbing to 11,000 feet over the Pir Panjal Mountain Range. None of these were built.

Further proposals emerged in the mid-20th century, but it wasn’t until 1994 that then Railway Minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief made headway in building a line to Baramulla and the Kashmir Valley.

In 2001, the Kashmir Railway received National Project Status from the Centre and has seen unlimited funds provided to it.

The Indian Railways’ ambitious Kashmir Railway Project is one of its most important and difficult projects as it aimed to build a railroad connection through the Himalayan foothills. The main objective of this project is to provide an alternative and more reliable mode of transportation system to the people of Kashmir than the existing mode of travel by road as the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has remained the most unreliable highway across the country due to landslides blocking it all throughout the year.

During the winter season, it remains closed for days together.

Officially, this railway track was named as Udhampur-Katra-Qazigund-Baramulla link (USBRL). The unique features of this line were the presence of a major earthquake zone, extreme environmental conditions in terms of temperature, and the most extreme geological profile throughout the entire terrain.

Experts have lauded the Indian Railway’s initiatives and how it has overcome some of the challenges associated with the project and said that once accomplished it would be an engineering miracle.

For the past 24 years, the Indian Railways have been working on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project, worth Rs 21,653 crore. It has many firsts, including world’s highest rail bridge, which soars 359 metres above the Chenab river bed and the longest railway tunnel with 12.75 km length. It comes under the jurisdiction of the Firozpur railway division of Indian Railways’ Northern zone.

Of the 272-km-long USBRL project, 161 km length was commissioned in phases. The 118-km-long Qazigund-Baramulla section was commissioned in October 2009, followed by the Banihal-Qazigund section of 18 km in June 2013, and the 25-km-long Udhampur-Katra section in July 2014. The 111-km-long Katra-Banihal section is under construction.

Out of 97.64 km, 84.39 km stands completed on the main tunnels. The track comprises 26 major and 10 minor bridges of which 12 major bridges have been completed, and work on 14 more is in progress, while 10 minor bridges are complete.

So far, construction of more than 205 km network access roads stands completed.

Three agencies — IRCON, KRCL, and Northern Railway are involved in this project. Many international agencies and premier Indian institutes like IIT Roorkee, IIT Delhi, DRDO and Geological Survey of India are providing expertise in planning and implementation.

The entire area of Jammu and Kashmir is mountainous except Jammu and Kathua districts. It has a geographical spread of 2,22,236 square kms and 19.95 per cent of the total geographical area is under forest. This valley has an average height of 1,850 metres (6,070 feet) above sea level, but the surrounding Pir Panjal range has an average elevation of 10,000 feet (3,000 m). Total population as per 2011 census is 1.25 crore which is 1.04 per cent of the total population of the country. The Railway network in J&K is the highest altitude network in India.

Owing to the strategic location of J&K, connectivity to this region is very important for national security, prosperity and socio-economic developments. Despite having abundance of resources, the UT could not make desirable development due to various factors and one of them is its connectivity to the rest of the county.

Efforts are on for establishing rail connectivity to the region for which a number of railway projects have been initiated which are under execution in different stages. The execution of rail projects in J&K is a very challenging task because of its topography and its other geographical factors.

After completion of this railway line, it will be an all weather convenient and cost effective mass transportation system and will act as a catalyst for the overall development of the northernmost alpine region of the country. This project has great significance for security and socio-economic development.

It can play an important role in rapid industrialisation, movement of raw materials, and finished products from J&K and encourage trade and tourism in the region apart from providing opportunities for employment.

Similarly it will be a boon for development of agriculture, horticulture and floriculture of this area.

At present the train chugs between Banihal and Barmulla, connecting central, north and south Kashmir. The project was inaugurated in 2013 and since then Railways has tried its best to improve the services as well as the allied infrastructure.

In order to give a fillip to the ongoing rail connectivity the authorities have set November 2021 as the deadline for the electrification of the 130-km-long Banihal-Baramulla railway track.

Chief Area Manager, Kashmir Railways, Sakib Yousuf, while talking to a regional daily, said that electrification work is in full swing and the project would be completed within the stipulated time frame.

Three main sub-stations would come up in Budgam, Baramulla, and Qazigund. The tenders for the electrification project were released two years ago. Earlier railways had set June 2021 as the official deadline for the project but it was delayed due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Railway officials working in Kashmir are of the opinion that tough topography is a biggest challenge but they have overcome the hurdles through their sheer hard work and determination.

Source: IANS

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Does MBA really help in getting a better job offer ?

Does MBA really help in getting a better job offer ?

Most students pursuing an MBA come with the sole objective of having a decent job offer or a promotion in the existing job soon after completion of the MBA. And most of them take loans to pursue this career dream. According to a recent survey by education portal  74% MBA 2022-24 aspirants said they would opt for education loans.

There are exceptional cases like those seeking master’s degree or may have a family business to take care of or an entrepreneurial venture in mind. But the exception cases are barely 1%. For the rest 99%, a management degree is a ticket to a dream job through campus placements or leap towards career enhancements. Stakes are high as many of them quit their jobs which essentially means loss of 2 years of income, apprehension and uncertainty of the job market. On top of that, the pressure to pay back the education loans. Hence the returns have to be high. There is more than just the management degree. Colleges need to ensure that they offer quality management education which enables them to be prepared for not just the demands of recruiters and for a decent job but also to sustain and achieve, all along their career path.

  • So, what exactly are the B Schools doing to prepare their students for the job market and make them industry ready ?
  •  Are B schools ready to deliver and prepare the future business leaders to cope up with the disrupted market ?  

These are the two key questions every MBA aspirant needs to ask, check and validate before filling the MBA application forms of management institutes. And worth mentioning that these application forms do not come cheap. An MBA aspirant who may have shortlisted 5 B Schools to apply for, may end up spending Rs 10,000.00 to Rs 15,000.00 just buying MBA / PGDM application forms.

While internship and placements data of some management institutes clearly indicates that recruiters today have specific demands. The skill sets looked for are job centric and industry oriented. MBA schools which have adopted new models of delivery and technology, redesigned their courses, built an effective evaluation process and prepared the students to cope with the dynamic business scenario, have done great with campus placements despite the economic slow down.

However, the skill set being looked for by a consulting company like Deloitte or KPMG may be quite different from FMCG or a manufacturing sector. Institutes need to acknowledge this fact and act accordingly.

  • Management institutes should ensure that students are intellectually engaged, self motivated and adapt to changes fast. In one word ‘VUCA ready’.
  • B Schools should encourage students to participate in national and international competitive events, simulations of business scenarios.
  • Institutes should have the right mix of faculty members with industry exposure and pure academics.

The placement records of 2021 across top management institutes indicated the fact that recruitment is happening, skilled talent is in demand and certain management institutions continued to attract recruiters even in the middle of an ongoing crisis.

It is time, all management institutes rise to the occasion, understand market realities and identify areas of improvement at both ends – students and faculty.

After all, the stakes are high at both ends. B Schools taking corrective measures will stay while those which are lagging will end up shutting down.

Author Name : Nirmalya Pal


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