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Integral Coach Factory: Crown Of The Indian Manufacturing Industry

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By Shashank Saurav:

I believe most of you mustn’t have heard about the Integral Coach Factory, unless your general knowledge is sound. For starters it is the largest industry in India and one of the largest independent units in the world. Integral Coach Factory [ICF] manufactures railway coaches of all varieties. It was the first of its kind in India and till today beats its nearest competitors in terms of demand and supply by a heavy margin.

Set up in the year 1951, ICF was inaugurated by Pandit Nehru in 1955, who also had the honors of flagging off the first wagon. It was set up with the help of M/s Swiss Car and Elevator Manufacturing Corporation Ltd., Schlieren-Zurich (Switzerland).It is interesting to note that ICF manufactures around 1500 railway coaches a year when its plant is designed to produce around a 1000 coaches a year. Also the fact that it has taken orders and exported coaches to many other countries (latest being Sri Lanka) is no mean feat. ICF is spread over a huge area in which independent residential areas, hospitals and schools are located thus covering more than 12,000 people that are working in ICF.

ICF is divided into two factories. The first is the shell division in which the outer part of a coach as well as the bogies are manufactured. Bogie refers to the wheels on which the coach stands. The second is the furnishing division in which all the inner accessories are manufactured and placed. This includes air conditioning unit, fans, bulbs, seats, bars and everything else. The whole coach is also painted here.

However this article is not meant to discuss the technical aspects of ICF. I will try and justify that ICF is indeed the crown of the Indian manufacturing industries just as the Palace on Wheels is the crown of the Indian railways. Hence its not ironical that this royal train has been manufactured in ICF. To its credit the factory has also produced Rajdhani Express, Shatabdi Express, Calcutta Metro Railways and other important trains like the Lifeline Express and Border Patrol units for defense purposes.

Another notable achievement is that ICF has remained virtually independent so far. It is capable of designing and producing all the equipments and machines required, by itself. The only supply needed is that of raw materials. Rest everything including welding machines, generators, motors etc. are produced here itself. It also has two dedicated laboratories to test the quality of the materials being supplied and used.

Although a prolonged visit to an industry turns out to be a lethargic experience, ICF begs to be different. Watching the colossus shells being lifted from one place to another is a rare sight. Observing hundred different types of machines at work in the same factory is equally fantabulous. Plus if you are pursuing engineering, ICF is like a trove of omniscience. Simply put, there is more than abundant knowledge to gain for students of core engineering disciplines especially Mechanical Engineering.

Other than designing passenger and luxury coaches, ICF also manufactures railway coaches for a variety of purposes. The patrolling unit and lifeline express have already been mentioned.

There are also special coaches designed to withstand shocks and thwart enemy attacks. Then there is the Ultrasonic Testing Vehicle which employs ultrasonic technique to locate the railway tracks which are damaged. There are also Electrical Multiple Units used to transfer coaches. With the manufacture of premier Luxury Coaches designed on the lines of Palace on Wheels, ICF has added a new dimension to itself.

Starting as a small scale manufacturing unit ICF has come a long way indeed. The purpose of the article was to increase awareness about India’s premier railway manufacturing industry. If everyone has heard about steel and aluminum industries, why shouldn’t they hear about the industry which extensively utilizes these. Besides ICF deserves a mention for carrying the burden of millions of people who rely on railways for living or for transportation.

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  1. Ultrasonic Welding Machines

    There are also special coaches designed to withstand shocks and thwart enemy attacks. Then there is the Ultrasonic Testing Vehicle which employs ultrasonic technique to locate the railway tracks which are damaged.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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