With a love for both the language and the people of Vizag, Ex DRM Chandralekha Mukherjee shares that the two years of service in Visakhapatnam have helped her establish roots in a very short time, and that she may have been from here in some previous life.
We’ve accomplished a lot over the past two years. We’ve cleaned up the station and its surrounding areas. The entrance via Platform 8 now has 3 arches that help identify the station, and segregate traffic flow. A car park, ramps, elevators and lifts, solar lighting, bio toilets and a dedicated water supply have been added. An Andhra touch has been brought in through murals showcasing local talent. We became the first station in the East Coast to offer free Wi-Fi as of March 2016 and also the first station in East Coast to have lifts for those who can’t negotiate stairs. We’ve started a rail dhaba with niche cuisine beside the already existing Jana Aahaar that offers economy food. We have a new VIP lounge, and an executive lounge on Platform 1. We now have washable aprons for cleaning the platform area. Also, Vizag’s satellite stations of Duvvada, Srikakulam, Simhachalam, and Marripalem have been developed.
Challenges and Agenda 2017
It has been a pretty smooth ride and I’d like to give credit to my wonderful team. Speaking of challenges, the first is always funds, but we pursued and got what we required. Also, the environment aided and abetted through events like the IFR. As for the 2017 Agenda, we are the nation’s sixth largest loading division and the focus would be on improving that. Improving passenger amenities would be a focus too. In that regard, the first of its kind, the Araku Vistadome train should come by April and I’m sure that with its unique design, it will be a game changer for tourism.
Candidly speaking, I joined the Indian Railway Traffic Service, where machismo and hierarchy rule. You need to run a huge fleet of trains, passenger and goods, on time, day after day, year after year. And discipline with military precision is paramount. This can only happen when hierarchy is sacrosanct and when there is the adrenaline flow. When I joined, I was a little overawed, but I took to it very quickly. I realised that gender doesn’t matter, what matters is how you deliver results. Insensitivity and extra sensitivity both work against women and should be avoided. There are lots of people who will come and say ‘You won’t be able to do this’. They need to be told that there is no difficulty and whatever can be done by my male counterpart can be done by me. We women shouldn’t be viewed as workplace liabilities, and if you deliver results, you would be welcomed.
My mother is a huge source of strength and has taught me determination. I remember that when I had cleared the IAS exam, I was on cloud nine. She sat me down, and compared me to my colleague asking how I was better than her. To have a mother who presents you with a reality check is a blessing. She has ironed my glitches from inside, and has taught me that who you are isn’t as great as, what you make out of who you are. My hero, and role model, however is my dashing, dapper, handsome and smart father, who was an IAS officer.
I believe women can, and only women can. Nothing is difficult but if you want to do something, you must want it very strongly. People appreciate that women have to juggle so many roles, and they will help you. You may come across the odd speed-breaker, but where’s the fun in life if you don’t come up against a speed-breaker and successfully negotiate it and go on?
Chandralekha Mukherjee has now been transferred to the Northern Railway, New Delhi as Senior Deputy General Manager. Mukul Saran Mathur has taken over as the new DRM.