Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dear Suresh Prabhu

[Update: My account got unblocked. Thanks Suresh Prabhu.]

Dear Suresh Prabhu,

Last week, my IRCTC account got blocked. The reason that was given to me was, "Use of autofill Scripts or Enormous hitting".

When we go to the details page second time in IRCTC, the page would be auto filled with the details [By IRCTC]. In that case, we can go to the payment page much faster without entering those details. IRCTC filled the data, and then it is blaming me that, I used auto-fill scripts, and blocked my account. I mentioned the same and their reply was, I was doing enormous hitting during Tatkal timing.

As I have been travelling a lot these days, and I would prefer to travel by train only. Many times, I try to check the tickets availability and the trains between different stations. Again, I have not used any scripts to check these, and I manually done it myself. I don't check the timings while doing it (Whether it is Tatkal timing or not], and I do it whenever I am free.

Blocking my account because, I was doing enormous hitting is completely unethical for many reasons. [I don't know whether I can say it is illegal or not, since, you are in the government, whatever you say is legal.]

  • How many enquiries can a person make during Tatkal timings and how many did I make?
  • Why is there no mention/warning saying, I have been checking too many things during peak lead
  • If you want me not do more than certain enquiries during Tatkal timings, you should provide a warning little before the limit is reached, and then not process any more requests till the tatkal period ends. But, you are not doing any of those things and just blocking the account.
  • Also, the limit should be high enough that, people can somehow travel by changing the plans. You should not say that, if they cannot get their preferred train, they should just log off and go by bus/flight. If you put a reasonable limit, I might have crossed that limit only once in the last many years. But, if you think, I have crossed the limit more than once, then it only means, you are very unreasonable and you do not want me to travel by train.
  • IRCTC and Indian Railways are monopoly. You do not have any right to block anybody. It is like stripping of my basic rights to travel.
  • If you expect us to count the no.of requests during Tatkal hours, it means like, you are expecting the runner of a 100m sprint to count the no.of breaths while running.

If IRCTC is just one of the providers for booking railway tickets, or indian railways is just one of the providers of the railways, then probably, I would not bother with you much, and I would move to the other providers. But, here, IRCTC and Indian railways are monopoly on a basic necessity for most of the Indians. Here, ethically, you do not have right to block the services to particular people for whatever reason.

For most of the major websites, people try to write automated scripts to get the info they want. In those cases, the websites do not block the users. They just block the way of accessing from automated tools. If you think, I have used the automated tools, you should block those tools or change the way you handle those requests, and you should not block the accounts.

Non-technical description of what you are doing is like, I have a very big land next to a high way, and in that, I have a house. I do not have a compound wall or fence or anything. I just have drawn a marking on the land saying the route to come. Let's suppose, if anyone does not come by the marking that I had, and if I arrest them for not coming by that, how ridiculous would it be? If I am expecting them to follow some particular route, then the basic thing that I should do is, I should construct a wall or fence so as, people think that, it is not a route. If there is no fence or wall, they think that, they can come by that. The maximum thing that I can do in that case, telling them to do not come by that. Other than that, (ethically) I don't have any right to do anything else. Here also, even if people use auto fill scripts, you can only tell them to do not do that. You don't have right to disable/block their accounts.

After demonetization by your government, I was unable to book tickets even at railway stations as they do not accept credit cards/digital payment except in handful of railway stations in each state. Because of that, I was unable to book ticket even at the counter. Since, IRCTC also blocked my account, I cannot book online as well. Which means, I cannot travel by train.

Problems like heavy load during Tatkal timings should be solved by non-technical solutions and not by technical solutions. There is a lot of demand for tatkal tickets on weekends, and not many trains are available. The first solution should be increasing the trains. Since, there are many reasons why we cannot increase trains immediately, you should increase the ticket price, even indirectly. Something like, if you want to book tatkal ticket before opening it, you have to pay more price etc.

When my account got blocked, I immediately sent mail to care@irctc.co.in [Which is mentioned in Contact Us]. I did not get reply for few days. Then, I tried to call the customer care number given, and I was unable to get any response. I messaged in twitter to Ministry of railways and I did not get response there also. But, when I sent to you in twitter, I got a reply in half an hour from IRCTC. It is a pretty good thing. But, the bad thing is, for these kind of small things, if it has to go to the union minister, it is going to waste a lot of your time and/or your office's time. You and your office should concentrate on the policies [Including the contents that are there in this] and fix the general issues. Fixing the individual issues would give you lot of publicity, but, that won't do any good for the country.

On another note, the restriction of 6 tickets per month is not at all enough. If you want everyone to move to digital, then there should not be any limit. Even if you don't want to increase the limit immediately, atleast change it to 6 confirmed tickets per month. Many times, I book the ticket and it gets never confirmed, and I run out of the limit.

For many days, In IRCTC, I see some message in Hindi and I had to click on Close before logging in. I don't know Hindi, and I don't know what all the content is there in it, or whether you have put any warnings or not. Please have some respect to the crores of people who do not know Hindi.

I agree that, your government is much better than the previous government. But, if a doctor cures the patient from all the diseases and then kills him at the end, then there is no use. You are doing almost the same thing. You are improving railways in many ways, and you are blocking me from travelling by train. Then, what is the use of the improvement that you are going to do? For me, it is like going back by decades.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Giving Prizes when there is no need

Organizations announce prizes for certain things to encourage/discourage people to do/not do that. If the people are going to do that anyway, even if there are no prizes given, then it is of no use to announce the prizes. It is just waste of money.

If people are interested in doing that, but, somehow they are not doing it, one needs to check why are they not doing it. If it is pure laziness, then the prizes may help. But, if it is not due to laziness, then one should fix the problem rather than giving prizes.

Prime Minister announced prizes worth of Rs.340 crore for doing transactions through digital, which is going to start on Christmas and ends on April 14th. I feel, this is absolute waste of money. If this has been announced much before demonetization and ended on Nov 7th or 8th, it would have made lot of sense. But, after demonetization, this is of no use.

Many people are ready to move to digital. But, due to lack of knowledge/facilities or high cost of the credit card machines etc., they are unable to move. Government should use this money and spend its effort in helping everyone to move to digital by providing the knowledge/facilities, instead of giving it as prize.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Who Wrote My Destiny: Authorised Biography of Sushilkumar Shinde

"Who Wrote My Destiny: Authorised Biography of Sushilkumar Shinde" is a completely useless book, if you are looking for a political book.

This book is like a self-help book with one sentence about Sushil Kumar Shinde in each page. Even when it is mentioned about the political life, the chronology, year and many other basic details are not at all mentioned, and I could not get any information.

For example, when they mentioned about contesting in elections, it is mentioned that, he was considered for elections in 1971. But, he could not get the seat. Then, again, he was considered in 1972, still did not get it. After that, when the sitting MLA died in 1973, he got the chance. I was unable to understand, how can he be considered continuously three times in three years. Were there two bye-elections or was it something else? Later, I came to know (from different source) that, in 1971, it was Parliament Elections, and in 1972, it was Assembly election. If they don't mention even basic things about politics, what is the use of writing a book about a politician?

If you are a person who enjoy reading full of praises, then you can read this. Otherwise, it is complete time waste.