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India is the largest democracy in the world.
The head of state is a Muslim, the head of government is a Sikh
and the head of the ruling political party is an Italian Catholic immigrant.
Such cultural and religious diversity is unparalleled in the developing world.
400 years ago Bombay was gifted by the Portuguese to the British as a dowry -
a wedding gift.
THEY SING: "Jingle Bells".
When the British left, they bequeathed the foundations of a secular society,
of democracy, the law, the Anglican church and the greatest railway system in all Asia.
India is undergoing unprecedented growth and Bombay is its financial powerhouse.
The city promotes a positive vision of the future,
a place where dreams can come true.
And for many the railway is their lifeline to that dream.
This is the story of the Bombay Railway.
Within 30 years India's economy could rival America's
and its population could outstrip China.
Agriculture still provides work for more than half of the population,
but as everywhere, they are migrating to the cities in their millions.
The draw of the city, the promise of a better life,
is a universal dream.
At its heart is Bombay -
the city of dreams.
Last year 13,000 Indians became millionaires, and the majority were from Bombay.
A city of success, celebrity and wealth where, if you don't become
a Bollywood star or a millionaire, you can at least make a living.
What made it all possible in India, was the coming of the railway.
The British laid the first railway line in Bombay 150 years ago,
since when Indian Railways have been adding to their system.
Now it's the biggest railway system in Asia.
Every year, they celebrate that first run, with a little bit of nostalgia and a lot of steam.
The first railway train
which ran in India was way back in 1853, 16th April.
It was decided that 16th of April of every year will be declared as the Railway Week.
This steam locomotive is a WP class of locomotive manufactured by Baldwin company of USA.
It's a beautiful sight to see a steam locomotive fully steamed up, ready to go.
But today we are handling about 60-65,000 passengers per hour.
On both systems of Central Railway and Western Railway
we carry more than six million passengers a day - a day!
There are more than 2,000 trains a day on the suburban network
and hundreds more on long distance routes.
The suburban railway alone moves the equivalent of
the entire population of a small country in and out of the city every day.
The railway is reliable. It's cheap, and very, very crowded.
They may have changed Bombay to Mumbai, but in an ever-changing city,
the railway has remained the only constant in most peoples' lives.
Mumbai rises early.
The first ritual of the day is to bathe.
Whether Hindu or Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Sikh,
life revolves around hard work,
duty to the family and devotion to your god.
And the railway is a family.
From father to son, generation to generation, the railway in India is so much more than a train ride.
It's a way of life.
Hans Dev Sharma is a senior operations clerk.
He works in the timetabling department which schedules thousands of trains a day.
So Hans is an optimist and one of the railway's happiest employees.
It was a craze to get a government job and it was also saying that
a government job was very relaxing job, nothing to do over there.
Before the railways, Hans started life as an actor,
specialising in character roles, and comedy is his thing.
When it's crowded, the faces of these handles becomes like this.
And when it's empty the faces they becomes like, very happy.
Hans works at Churchgate, Mumbai's busiest railway station.
He comes from a railway family.
His father was in the signals department and Hans followed in his footsteps at the tender age of 21.
She looks after me. I look after her work.
She's Pradnia, colleague of mine.
Hans is just one of a million and a half employees of the Indian Railways -
now the biggest civil employer in the world.
It's an administrative hothouse invented by the British and expanded upon by the Indians.
It generates a mountain of paperwork,
but even with the introduction of computers,
Hans' office isn't quite paper-free.
Computers have helped him in working out the timetable.
Now it only takes half the time.
So when the timetable's done, there's plenty of administration
to deal with, some of which requires that personal touch.
Because the railways is state-owned, it's governed by the principals of the constitution.
And to ensure that the organisation reflects the society it serves,
it has employment quotas.
It has a sports quota,
a scheduled caste quota,
a disabled quota
and a cultural quota.
Hans Dev Sharma was talent-spotted by the railways
as an exceptional actor and dancer.
He was auditioned and examined and subsequently offered a job.
I had seen Bollywood and I had reached to the mark,
if I give more time to Bollywood I can be a good character artist, a renowned one.
But I am not giving as well as I am giving preference to Railways first
because that is my say, bread and butter.
For the sake of his family, Hans the actor and comedian
accepted a secure job with the railway,
rather than pursue a career in Bollywood.
In his time he's appeared in a few TV soaps, a couple of small
budget films, and his son Arun also wants a career on the stage.
MUSIC AND EXCITED CHATTER
The mission of the cultural group is to entertain and enhance
the cultural wellbeing of the railway workforce.
Tonight's play is based upon a story from the Mahabharata, and Hans is playing Krishna, the lead role.
I'm portraying a character whom everybody knows in India especially and abroad also.
Everybody is being known by Krishna, who is Krishna.
For that purpose I have to play a cunning smile and an angry role.
EERIE MUSIC PLAYS
The railway audience may not be huge,
but acting is a vocation for Hans, so he has satisfaction in the art.
In a country where aspirations are rising, Mumbai is the epicentre of the modern Indian world.
Its population growth is staggering.
And it remains India's most successful city. And it's Bollywood.
More Indian films were released in Britain last year than British films.
Stars are paid in millions and millions can even be won on TV game shows.
And each week Indians buy a million new mobile phones.
Jagdish Paul is part of the new generation of Mumbaikers.
Confident, educated, ambitious for the good things in life.
The son of a Railway Catering Officer, Jagdish, like his father, always had an interest in food,
but unlike his father he had no interest in the railway.
Jagdish graduated in politics and economics, did a law degree and then became a fully qualified chef.
But the railways were calling him back.
You can travel anywhere on the subcontinent by long distance train from here.
With journeys sometimes lasting days, passengers need just two things.
A reservation, and something to eat.
Catering on long distance trains has for some time been tendered out to private companies.
In a sealed bid, Jagdish won the contract for one of the railway's
most popular long-distance routes from Mumbai to Goa and the South.
Mumbai is a city of dreams where, they say, the streets are paved with gold.
They also say that the city never sleeps - and neither does the railway.
In a city driven by profit, the suburban railway system runs
at a loss, and it operates almost 24 hours of the day.
The railway is a lifeline for the population and an essential service for the city it serves.
All the growth that's taking place in this country, a lot of it can be attributed to the
robust working of this organisation.
You have areas where you can't make profits.
But you can't abandon your people there.
You have areas where you have only two trains going in a system.
If you take them away, because they are not making profit, then the people
will have nothing to fall back upon and probably it will in the long run
work as an impediment to the economic progress of that area.
BELL CHIMES TWICE
TRAIN HORN BLOWS
The first commuter train sets off from the outskirts of the city
at 3.40 in the morning,
and the first commuters are village people bringing their produce to market.
Without the railway, millions of people and the families they support just could not survive.
While we like to keep our head above water, yet we have
been discharging our duties for the society everywhere
and the Mumbai Suburban system is one of that.
Mumtaz Khazi is the daughter of a railwayman and she drives commuter trains on the suburban network.
Mumtaz was brought up in a traditional Muslim family -
a railway family.
And like most railway families, their house was literally right by the side of the tracks.
Mumtaz Khazi was studying at university, when she saw an ad in the newspaper.
Mumtaz became Asia's first woman loco diesel driver and has driven trains all over India.
But now she has a family of her own, and she's settled into the railway life in Mumbai,
driving trains on the suburban network.
She lives at Sion colony, just a few stations from where she grew up.
All her immediate family emigrated to Canada.
And now her father's retired there too, so Mumtaz is the only member left in Mumbai.
And in a few days, her brother is coming from Toronto
and she's been asked to find him a suitable wife and arrange his marriage.
Mumtaz has to find a wife for her brother,
to get him married in Mumbai,
and then back to Canada in just eight weeks.
After independence, the constitution of India proclaimed it
"a sovereign, socialist, secular democratic republic."
With 395 articles, it is perhaps the longest and most detailed constitution in the world.
COMMANDS ARE SHOUTED
The railways were nationalised after independence and remains
a state-funded organisation with a huge budget, second only to the Ministry of Defence.
So, the railways celebrate Republic Day with all the pageantry befitting
one of the country's most important national assets.
But beneath the ceremony and ritual, the railway still remains
quietly committed to all the principles of that constitution.
So, when Mumbai's population is swelled by a couple of million pilgrims,
the railway simply takes it in its stride.
Each year the city fathers and Indian Railways play host to
an extra two million rural peoples who invade their city for four days.
They are know as the Dalit -
-the untouchable caste.
They're all devotees of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar -
one of the architects of the Indian constitution and champion of the downtrodden poor of India.
Before Ambedkar's intervention, the Dalit were virtual slaves.
Ambedkar opened up opportunities in education for them,
made quotas for government jobs like the railways,
and he secured their right to vote.
SHOUTING AND CHEERING
The railway provides these pilgrims with special free travel
and the city gives them a free place to stay.
Ambedkar gave them their freedom.
For four days and nights they show their respect to the man who himself
was born a Dalit, but who died a saint.
At Mumbai's international airport, Mumtaz and her family
are meeting her brother Feroz, who's just arrived from Canada.
He's come in search of a wife.
Mumtaz has the responsibility of finding a suitor and marrying him off in the next two months.
Arranged marriages in India, whether Hindu, Muslim or even Christian,
are what most people prefer.
Mumtaz and Feroz come from a traditional Muslim background
and although he may now live in Canada, the family believe his suitor is best found in Mumbai.
Today, 90% of all marriages in India are arranged.
Yet less than 2% ever get divorced.
An arranged marriage is a family affair -
not just the joining of husband and wife, but the joining of two extended Indian families.
He's sure he didn't put it in the bag that is lost.
Feroz is a product engineer,
searching for a bride in Mumbai to take back to Canada.
Finding a wife with a good education and a degree is must for this middle class Indian boy.
No degree, no marriage.
CAR HORNS HOOT
HE SHOUTS AND THEY CHEER
In a fast changing India, education is seen as the only route
to a middle class life, secure, and free from poverty.
Private schools are full
and colleges and universities are turning out graduates in record numbers.
And they're all looking for a job.
So whenever vacancies arise, Indian Railways are inundated with applications.
You can pick up an application form around most stations
and for a few rupees they'll show you how to fill it in.
The railway receives so many applications in fact,
that they have to hold examinations almost monthly at centres across the city.
It's a high security operation with an armed escort by the railway's own police force.
Whether you are a budding driver, a clerk or a signalman, the odds of success are about sixty to one.
At exam centres around the city, 18,000 hopefuls are cramming up to the last minute.
At stake are 300 vacancies for Group D clerical jobs.
Many of the candidates are graduates and the exams are tough - in both English and Hindi.
But the rewards are guaranteed.
A job with the railways is an attractive proposition
because if you are successful, it's a job for life.
Free medical care, a pension, housing...
security for you and your family in this life...
and maybe beyond.
In a city where there's a chronic shortage of housing
and where seven million people live in slums, finding a home is difficult.
But for railway employees, housing comes with the job.
They're all allocated accommodation in one of the railway's many colonies.
And Badhwar Park is the best railway address in town.
It's home to Mumbai's top 250 railway officers and their families.
In a city where real estate prices are as high as New York or London,
to live in a three bedroom apartment in the centre of town is beyond the means of all but the very rich.
I think the cost of our flats...
the market value of that I'm telling you is more than 30 millions or so...
In terms of Rupees, I'm telling you, more than 30 million to 40 million.
We just can't imagine living in such a place.
But officers of the railway live here with their families for just a nominal rent.
The railway family of Badhwar Park is conservative and traditional.
Its clubs and societies reflect a colonial past.
But its confidence and success are very much of today.
I declare this meet open...
Badhwar Park is an exclusive colony for the railway's top managers.
And it's a one-off.
You may be there for four years, maybe forty - it depends on your next posting.
But for the majority of railway employees, colonies provide a simple but comfortable home.
Such care makes for a stable and traditional family environment.
And most importantly,
a contented workforce.
This is my railway colony...
and we are at the prime location of Bombay. That is Santa Cruz East.
SMASHING GLASS HE LAUGHS
We're giving rent - nominal rent.
Free facilities, free maintenance, nothing to be bothered about.
It is very near to airport.
Very near to station, obviously. TRAIN TOOTS
Near to station means we are very much in a helping hand of railways -
to go by railway, for the railways, to the railways.
The concept of the railway colony as an essential ingredient
for a happy and efficient workforce, was a British import.
60 years after they left, it's still working well.
There hasn't been a strike on the railways since 1972.
The British construction of the railways revolutionised the economy of the country
and transformed Mumbai into the commercial capital of the Arabian Sea.
Victoria Terminus was positioned to face the port,
a beacon of empire and international trade.
It was a statement of imperial power and success.
Built by the Great India Peninsula Railway in 1888 to house its headquarters,
Victoria Terminus was to the British Empire
what the Taj Mahal was to the Moguls.
It's over a hundred years since VT was built.
Now it's called Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus -
it's become a World Heritage site.
The British brought the railways to India and now it's the railways that bring many of them back.
At VT station a group of train enthusiasts are making a nostalgic journey into the world of steam.
If you want to have a look, see where you're sitting...
John and Les, Chris and Alex, and their leader, Peter - an accountant from Doncaster -
have all come here to live the train spotter's dream.
There's a travelling ticket inspector down at the bottom there where I want to take a picture...
If anybody wants to wander down and have a look at the loco then by all means do.
Should the train go while you're down there, just get in at
the nearest doorway and amble back here at the first stop.
We like trains, y'know...
I've always had a big interest,
but I've never quite found time to follow up as much as I would like.
We're going to do this line to Matheran
which has a locomotive which came originally from the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
So we want to see that, photograph it, travel behind it.
Unfortunately the line has been closed up to Matheran due to a landslide.
We can go part way only.
-It's a pocket atlas...
-This is a very unhandy map!
It all stems from when I was a child and there was a railway at the bottom of the garden, I think.
And I haven't recovered from that yet!
I'm a signal engineer... I can bore for Britain on signals!
When the heat of the plains became too hot for the Raj, they headed for the hills
where a cooler climate, an airy bungalow and a cold beer could ease the burden of empire.
TRAIN WHISTLE SHRIEKS
INDIAN MUSIC PLAYS
The Matheran was a hill top resort with fresh air, stunning views
and reportedly, 'free from any suspicion of malaria.'
But to get there, they needed a railway.
The line was built by the son of a wealthy Indian, who established the
Matheran Steam Light Tramway Company which opened the line in 1907.
Today's trip is only as far as Jumupatti Station - normally just an hour or so from the railhead.
But with the train at their disposal, they're determined to get as many drive-bys as they can.
So it could take much longer.
Cameras loaded, cards sent, diaries written, it's the high point
of a two week hill station tour, from where the British once ruled India.
Today, it's a very different story.
I couldn't believe it when I heard they'd been bowled out for 323...
The Matheran Railway was merely a means to an end for the British Raj.
To these steam enthusiasts, it's a minor miracle.
But today's Indian Railways has even greater ambitions...
TRAINS HOOTS LOUDLY
The British once dreamed of building a railway line along the coast from Mumbai to the south.
But they decided it was too costly and too difficult.
But in 1990, Indian Railways started building.
Known as the Konkan Railway, it took eight years to complete, and it's recognised as an engineering marvel.
Ninety one tunnels, over 2,000 bridges and 700 kilometres long,
it runs to Kerala and the south.
It was the railway's most ambitious project in the last ten years...
and it's knocked eighteen hours off the journey time.
Mumbai to Goa is the most popular and most profitable stretch on the Konkan line.
In recent years it's become a regular route for the city's middle classes.
THEY SING NOISILY
Goa - a place to relax, suitable for family holidays, for those all important office away-days.
And for the young, it's a place to party.
Why Goa? Because a) the men have all the profit.
After long working days, you have good-looking women, you have lots of water, you have lots of booze.
As for the women, you have lots of good-looking men, lots of of water, lots of booze - that's why!
It's a kind of a chill zone there.
You don't think about your work there.
It's completely free - relaxed.
You just get up in the morning, and hit the beach...
just laze around on the beach and do what you want.
Jagdish Raj and his crew are in the pantry car cooking dinner for the passengers.
At less than a pound for a chicken fried rice, it's cheap, very cheap.
TRAIN HORN BLARES
Chicken fried rice, chicken chilli, chicken noodles...
Chicken tikka, no?
With a menu of simple continental, Chinese, and Indian food...
a thousand passengers a day...
seven days a week...
it's a profitable franchise.
Goa is the new playground of Mumbai.
12 hours by overnight train.
It's become India's favourite destination for honeymooning couples.
And Goa is a golden opportunity for Jagdish,
he's planning his dream future.
A gambling casino, a boutique hotel, an Italian restaurant...
but so far there are no plans to marry.
Either a man is happy or married.
With miles of unspoilt tropical beaches, Goa is also a favourite location for Bollywood scenes.
Twelve months ago, Arun, son of Hans, was cast in an ad
for an American insurance company, shooting in Goa.
The ad was successful so they're shooting another one.
This time on VT Station,
with the elephant.
Arun is only eleven years old,
but he's already following in father's footsteps.
They gave me a hint - "OK, Hans, your kid has a spark of acting.
"Just give him a push."
I'm not expecting anything from him, I'm just doing my duty.
That is his duty whether he can do it or not. I'm not expecting anything.
The son is doing something better than his father, so that is a great part of that.
And I feel very much proud of that. Very much proud.
THE CHILDREN SHOUT
THE ELEPHANT TRUMPETS
Today, India's online middle classes number almost 400 million
and they're on a spending spree.
In suburban shopping malls, young Mumbaikers hang out just like their western counterparts.
But when it comes to marriage, they follow the wishes of the family...
and a tradition that has lasted for 5000 years.
After two weeks of searching, Mumtaz has turned up several options
for her brother and he's already met six of them.
In Canada, their parents and the rest of the family are anxiously waiting for news.
First option was a dentist.
-She was a dentist and...
..but the girl was not good-looking.
So...nobody liked that option.
So then we went for the second option.
She was a B. Pharm plus MBA.
She was very good, very cute and even I liked her, everybody liked her.
The real problem is that I don't have enough time.
The time is running out from my hand.
On the early morning train to Pune, Mumtaz and Feroz, and a tired young Taushib,
are off to meet another selection of potential brides.
But they're all graduates.
One is doctor - MBBS, and one is MBA - Master of Business Administration.
I think this will be the last chance!
I can't go home empty-handed!
Yeah, it's the decision of a lifetime...yeah...
Whole...life depends on this.
After two months of searching for his dream girl, it's finally happened.
Her name is Shabana and she and Feroz are to be married
at the Officers Club near Matunga Station.
They met on the internet and their first face-to-face meeting was just two weeks ago.
She's an MBA now working in Bahrain, and she flew to Mumbai to meet Feroz.
The match was agreed, and now Shabana has married into a railway family.
RADIO COMMENTARY DROWNED BY SHOUTING
RADIO: Against Pakistan at Lahore in 2004 when India...
RADIO CONTINUES FAINTLY
I had applied for a tender for a particular train
to run the onboard pantry car catering on the Mangalore express.
And we had to bid for the train. I bid for the train,
but somehow my bid was a bit low so I am not a successful bidder.
They have sent my cheque back
with a letter saying that the successful bidder's got the train.
Jagdish Paul Raj grew up with the railway.
Thanks to the railway he's become a successful player in the catering business.
But we all grow up with some kind of dream.
Everyone has a dream when they're growing up, they have a dream.
Some dream of becoming a cricketer or a businessman or an engineer or a doctor...
So everyone dreams.
I grew up listening to the sound of the train moving.
I will always be associated with the railways.
I will try to.
Mumbai Railways, like the city it serves, is overcrowded, ambitious and optimistic.
Thanks to the railways, operating officer Hans Dev Sharma is living the dream.
Railways are his life and his stage.
No doubt railways are bread and butter to me.
And cultural activities in the railways
are the juice - cup of juices - cup of milkshakes, cup of Bournvitas to me.
They're boosting me up more and more.
Bread and butter, the juices and all, you can live a good life.
THEY SING BOLLYWOOD-STYLE
HE HUMS THE SAME TUNE
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]