Railway Ministry’s policy on issuing licenses to book, magazine vendors NOT secular

New Delhi: A study done by Media Studies Group (MSG) has come to the conclusion that the Ministry of Railways does not follow a secular policy while issuing licenses and providing facilities to the vendors and stall-owners selling newspapers, books and magazines on railway platforms.

The Railway Ministry has provided facilities for selling newspapers, magazines etc. on 165 stalls and trolleys throughout the country, some of which have also been allocated to religious organizations. But the list of vendors reveal that none of the allottees is from Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Parsi or some other minority organizations.

Apart from business agencies like A.H. Wheelar, religious and social organizations are also given licenses and spaces by Railways to sell their publications. But a glance at the list of social and religious organizations is enough to reveal that the allocation lacks the constitutionally backed vision of social justice and secularism.

These facilities are mainly available to those organizations who sell books and magazines belonging to a particular religion. The books relating to the principles of social justice and their proponents are found missing in these railway platform stalls.

This shows policy-level lacuna in the allocation of stalls. MSG Chairman Anil Chamadia said that the new policy proposed by Railways also suffers on the similar count because it does not ensure allocation based on the secular principle.

The ministry has recently proposed a new policy regarding issuing licenses and providing facilities for putting up book-magazine stalls and trolleys on the platforms categorized as A, B, C and D. A similar policy was declared earlier too in 2004.

It is interesting to note that that according to the 2004 policy and latest notification besides SC, ST, OBC, BPL, etc., 3% of stalls are supposed to be reserved for minorities. What can be seen as the government’s acceptance of the fact that they have not been able to provide equitable representation, the latest government policy notes, “The reserved category percentage shall be achieved on a gradual basis when either new stalls are allotted or any of the existing stall is vacated and noticed for allotment.”

The Media Studies Group undertook the study on the basis of the facts made available to it by Railways itself, according to which Sarva Seva Sangh alone has 66 stalls, Geeta Press has 44 while Sarvodaya has 16 stalls.

Sarva Seva Sangh – 66

Sarvodaya -16

Geeta Press -44

Ramkrishna Mission -8

Ramkrishna Sewa Samity -1

Shri Ramkrishna Math-7

Ramkrishna Mission Ashram -2

Ramakrishna Vivekananda Ahsram -1

Sadhu Waswani Mission -1

New Way Ashram -1

Gayatri shakti peeth 1

Shri Vedamata Gayari Trust-1

Yug Nirman Sahitya Gayatri Parivar -1

Advaita Ashram -6

Gaudiya Mission -1

Shri Sringeri Sarada Peetham -1
Dada Bhagwaan Foundation Trust -1

Shri Sathya Saibaba -1

Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya -1

Art of Living -1

Adivasi Gram Sewa Sangh -3

Total- 165 Stall and Trolley

Total Trolley number- 9

The details of existing stalls/spaces allotted to social/religious organizations at Railway Platforms, location wise are as under.

book stalls (1)

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