While for some social media is simply a way of connecting to the outside world once in a while, for others it might end up being a distraction. After facing severe backlash for back-to-back accidents, the Indian Railways has arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to its employees, they might fall in the second category mentioned above.

A recently issued circular by the Delhi division of Indian Railways has termed WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app as a major “major distraction” and has asked all of its employees, which includes train drivers, TTEs and guards to not use such apps when they’re on duty.

The circular further noted that anyone seen flouting the orders would be strictly dealt by the authorities and such orders would soon make their ways across all railways divisions of the country.

Explaining the reason that drove Indian Railways to take such an extreme step, a railway official spoke with India Today and said, “It was noted that several staff associated with the safety department or the operational staff were indulging in WhatsApp and YouTube during working hours. This caused major distraction and thus compromised passenger safety. They have been told not to use these apps and entertainment medium and perform their duty with greater efficiency and alertness.”

While the circular didn’t read when exactly did the ban come into order, it clearly stated that included all maintenance and safety staff in the railways, which includes track-men, gang men guards on crossings, loco pilots, and train guards. Not only them, even mid-level station managers and superintendents are have been ordered to abstain from using such apps while at work. In fact, the drivers and guards have been asked to switch off their mobile phones altogether while on duty. If staff members need to communicate among themselves, they have been directed to make use of walkie-talkies made available to them.

For the uninitiated, WhatsApp and YouTube are considered as the two most popular apps in the Indian subcontinent. With over 96 percent of smartphones in India having WhatsApp, the country houses WhatsApp’s largest user base in the world, a 2016 study had revealed. Same is the case with YouTube, too. The video-sharing website has over 180 million users in India, which makes it one of the top most global markets for the firm.

It is interesting to note here, that the Indian government has been actively pursuing having free Wi-Fi availability across major railway stations in the country as part of its ambitious Digital India initiative. Hence, banning its employees to use these apps might appear contradicting on the part of the government but as they say safety above everything else.

[Image: Business92]

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