By Rajeev Ranjan Dwivedi
New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) Tracking the history of the Commonwealth Games and the contribution of Indian Railways to sports, a special train will this month begin a cross-country journey to inform and take visitors down memory lane through rare photographs and memorabilia.
The train, which will be flagged off by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee June 24 and will return on Oct 2, a day before the Commonwealth Games kick off, will stop for two-three days at selected stations.
Five coaches of the train will feature exhibitions on the Commonwealth Games, while five will focus on information and technology in railway operations. An eleventh bogey will be converted into a 100-ft-long travelling sports photo exhibition, curated by sports filmmaker Sunil Yash Kalra, who has also donated rare pictures from his collection of over 5,000 photos.
"The exhibition train with a focus on youth will promote sports and information technology. It will also promote the Commonwealth Games, its significance and other things about it," a senior official of the railway ministry told IANS.
"In the Commonwealth exhibition section, we have focussed on India's participation in the Games over the years. We have also tried to explain what the Commonwealth Games are and the history behind it."
The train, he added, details how the Commonwealth Games had evolved over the years. "Besides there will be trophies and medals won by sportspersons associated with Indian Railways."
In the information and technology exhibition, the effort is to show the usage of IT in railway operations.
"People will be able to have a glimpse of the exhibitions during the stoppage at a particular station for two-three days. The whole idea is to make the people aware about sports and the need for it."
The 'nostalgia exhibition' curated by Kalra will showcase many photographs for the first time. It has pictures of sportspersons down the decades, from 1928 to 2010, said one of the organisers.
"There are around 70 rare pictures in the exhibition, of which the oldest is of Indian hockey team that won the hockey gold medal in 1928. Photographs of about 100 national sports award winners from the railways in the last 75 years is also there at the exhibition," he told IANS.
As a sports filmmaker, Kalra has made the docudrama "Women's Cricket - Poor Cousins of Million Dollar Babies". He has also authored various research papers on feasibility of sports sponsorship in India.
The train will be painted in logos of the 19th edition of Commonwealth Games and also Indian Railways. It will return to the capital by Oct 2, a day before the start of the mega-sporting event.
The ministries of railways, sports, and information and technology have joined hands for showcasing the exhibition across the country.
The train is the culmination of a promise made by the railway minister when she had presented the rail budget on Feb 28.
"Indian Railways will be the lead partner of the Commonwealth Games being hosted by India this year. To mark this event and also to spread the message, the railways proposes to start a Commonwealth exhibition train," Banerjee had said.