After a spate of train accidents in the country that has led to over 300 deaths in 2017, railway officials have been barred from using WhatsApp while on duty. A circular has been issued by the Delhi division of Indian Railways to its entire staff that includes drivers, guards and TTEs, asking them not to use the messaging app during duty hours, India Today reported. WhatsApp has been termed as a “major distraction” by the authorities. Also Read - Govt brings Sandes instant messaging app to counter WhatsAppAlso Read - Happy Friendship Day 2021: How to send Friendship Day wishes Stickers on WhatsApp
Anyone violating the orders would be dealt with strictly, the circular noted. Such orders would eventually be issued across all railway divisions, and not just in Delhi. “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,” a railway official reportedly said. ALSO READ: WhatsApp blocked in China: For all that it is, life s better off in India Also Read - How to archive chats on WhatsApp in simple steps
The ban would be applicable to all maintenance and safety staff in the railways. It includes track-men, gang men guards on crossings, loco pilots, and train guards. Even mid-level station managers and superintendents are prohibited from using the apps during work hours. However, it is not clear when the ban comes into effect. All communication among staff members would have to be done via walkie-talkies. Additionally, drivers and guards have been asked to switch off their mobile phones while on duty. ALSO READ: WhatsApp crosses 200 million monthly active users in India; looks to integrate payments
WhatsApp and YouTube are surely the most popular apps in India. This country accounts for WhatsApp’s largest user base in the world, and over 96 percent of smartphones in India have WhatsApp, a 2016 study revealed. It has a higher penetration than Facebook s Messenger application, and homegrown messaging app Hike. YouTube, too, has 180 million users in India, which is one of its top global markets. In August, the video-sharing platform stated that 85 percent of its India traffic was coming from smartphones. With the government pushing for Wi-Fi availability across major railway stations as part of its Digital India initiative, it is only natural that officials used apps freely.