News presenter Ravish Kumar is using his programme to fight for the millions of people who miss exams, job interviews and funerals because of India’s hopelessly inadequate rail system
For three years, Ashutosh Agarwal studied hard at home for an agriculture exam. To sit the test, he had to travel from Patna to Kota, a 24-hour train ride away. Knowing how unreliable the trains can be, Agarwal planned his trip so he would reach the city a full day early. But the Patna-Kota express train was two days late, so he missed his exam. On prime time television, filmed by news channel NDTV, he was shown weeping over his three wasted years of study.
Normally, Agarwal’s bitter experience would have remained a private story. News channels in India very rarely report on the daily hardships of the poor, or show interest in why the trains used by the wealthy run on time while those used by the masses routinely run late. Most news shows restrict themselves to broadcasting studio-based political slanging matches.