The Daily Fix

‘Don’t confuse development with elitism’: 10 reads from Left & Right on bullet trains and Japan

Praise and criticism for the high-speed rail project which is being built with Japanese credit and expertise.

Japan President Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday pushed a button to lay the foundation stone for a landmark bullet train project, set to be built between Mumbai and Ahmedabad over the next five years. The train forms the centre-piece of a growing relationship between India and Japan, at a time when common worries about an expansionist China are pushing the two countries closer to each other. Yet, coming at a cost of more than Rs 1 lakh crore, it has also sparked much criticism in a country where derailments on much slower trains are depressingly routine.

Abe’s visit to India came with much fanfare, just three years after a similar reception was laid out for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also got to tour Ahmedabad with Modi. The interim period has seen tensions with Beijing spoke, prompting New Delhi to look to Tokyo for both defence cooperation as well as trade deals.

Commentary from the Left, Right – and even an Op-Ed from Abe himself – looked at the nature of this relationship, and what the bullet train means for India.

  1. When the first Rajdhani left Delhi for Howrah in 1969, it too was branded “elitist” and a luxury for a poor country, writes Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman of Feedback Infra Pvt Ltd, in the Indian Express. “We should be careful not to confuse leapfrogging technology development with elitism – whether it is mobile phones, satellite launches, regional air-connectivity or high-speed rail.” 
  2. G Raghuram, director of the IIM-Bangalore, says in Mint the ground-breaking project is indeed a “great beginning for India,” but also points out five challenges that the country will need to overcome if the bullet train project is to be successful, including land acquisition and route design. 
  3. “This could be India’s bhaagta hai moment. So, let’s finally say sayonara to chalta hai,” writes Ravneet Gill, CEO of Deutsche Bank AG India in the Times of India. 
  4. Pallavi Aiyar, a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum, says in the Hindu that the bullet train project is both a geostrategic and business coup for Japan, which has struggled to sell its high-speed rail technology overseas. 
  5. “In areas where Japan has put up the [High Speed Rail], local government revenue receipts have grown at almost twice the rate compared to areas which do not have HSR connectivity,” writes Aashish Chandrokar, a management consultant, in Hindu Businessline. “If this trend works in India, it will be a boon because Palghar, Daman and Valsad are relatively less developed.”  
  6. “India’s rail system may not be that fast or rival that of China’s, but the government’s move to attempt to build such a system makes sense,” writes Leslie D’Monte, tech editor of Mint. 
  7. “There will be a very sharp learning curve but its impact will not just be on railways but in India’s industrial economy as a whole,” writes former foreign secretary Shyam Saran in the Hindustan Times. “With proper planning, it may help create an entire new ecosystem of high performance in the country.” 
  8. “Modi and Abe have certainly raised the expectations for a potential alliance between Delhi and Tokyo. But they can’t afford to fall short on implementation amidst the current geopolitical churn in Asia,” writes C Raja Mohan, the director of Carnegie India in Indian Express. 
  9. “What holds well today, may not hold good tomorrow,” writes Narayan Krishnamurthy, editor of Outlook Money. “There is every bit of possibility that there may not be a pressing need to travel between destinations that the bullet train is planned to service... In the absence of drastic measures, the bullet train will be one more project which will have everything interesting going for it, but may not find enough takers.” 
  10. “In 2022 when the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line opens, it must become an inflexion point not just for that one line and those two cities but for transport and transport infrastructure in that region and, subsequently, all over India,” writes journalist Sidin Vadakut in Mint.  
We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

The ordeal of choosing the right data pack for your connectivity needs

"Your data has been activated." <10 seconds later> "You have crossed your data limit."

The internet is an amazing space where you can watch a donkey playing football while simultaneously looking up whether the mole on your elbow is a symptom of a terminal diseases. It’s as busy as it’s big with at least 2.96 billion pages in the indexed web and over 40,000 Google search queries processed every second. If you have access to this vast expanse of information through your mobile, then you’re probably on something known as a data plan.

However, data plans or data packs are a lot like prescription pills. You need to go through a barrage of perplexing words to understand what they really do. Not to mention the call from the telecom company rattling on at 400 words per minute about a life-changing data pack which is as undecipherable as reading a doctor’s handwriting on the prescription. On top of it all, most data packs expect you to solve complex algorithms on permutations to figure out which one is the right one.


Even the most sophisticated and evolved beings of the digital era would agree that choosing a data pack is a lot like getting stuck on a seesaw, struggling to find the right balance between getting the most out of your data and not paying for more than you need. Running out of data is frustrating, but losing the data that you paid for but couldn’t use during a busy month is outright infuriating. Shouldn’t your unused data be rolled over to the next month?

You peruse the advice available online on how to go about choosing the right data pack, most of which talks about understanding your own data usage. Armed with wisdom, you escape to your mind palace, Sherlock style, and review your access to Wifi zones, the size of the websites you regularly visit, the number of emails you send and receive, even the number of cat videos you watch. You somehow manage to figure out your daily usage which you multiply by 30 and there it is. All you need to do now is find the appropriate data pack.

Promptly ignoring the above calculations, you fall for unlimited data plans with an “all you can eat” buffet style data offering. You immediately text a code to the telecom company to activate this portal to unlimited video calls, selfies, instastories, snapchats – sky is the limit. You tell all your friends and colleagues about the genius new plan you have and how you’ve been watching funny sloth videos on YouTube all day, well, because you CAN!


Alas, after a day of reign, you realise that your phone has run out of data. Anyone who has suffered the terms and conditions of unlimited data packs knows the importance of reading the fine print before committing yourself to one. Some plans place limits on video quality to 480p on mobile phones, some limit the speed after reaching a mark mentioned in the fine print. Is it too much to ask for a plan that lets us binge on our favourite shows on Amazon Prime, unconditionally?

You find yourself stuck in an endless loop of estimating your data usage, figuring out how you crossed your data limit and arguing with customer care about your sky-high phone bill. Exasperated, you somehow muster up the strength to do it all over again and decide to browse for more data packs. Regrettably, the website wont load on your mobile because of expired data.


Getting the right data plan shouldn’t be this complicated a decision. Instead of getting confused by the numerous offers, focus on your usage and guide yourself out of the maze by having a clear idea of what you want. And if all you want is to enjoy unlimited calls with friends and uninterrupted Snapchat, then you know exactly what to look for in a plan.


The Airtel Postpaid at Rs. 499 comes closest to a plan that is up front with its offerings, making it easy to choose exactly what you need. One of the best-selling Airtel Postpaid plans, the Rs. 499 pack offers 40 GB 3G/4G data that you can carry forward to the next bill cycle if unused. The pack also offers a one year subscription to Amazon Prime on the Airtel TV app.

So, next time, don’t let your frustration get the better of you. Click here to find a plan that’s right for you.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel and not by the Scroll editorial team.