Indian trains to offer essential oil and cream massages to passengers
- July 5, 2020
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A plan for Indian train passengers to be offered massage services during their journeys has been described as immodest and “un-Indian” by a conservative politician.
Indian Railways, the state rail operator, announced last week that massages will be available for purchase on a number of routes, with a range of options involving creams and essential oils.
The services will be rolled out in the next couple of weeks on 39 trains departing from the central city of Indore, the operator said.
But the plan has drawn the ire of the MP for Indore, Shankar Lalwani, of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In a written statement to the railways minister, Piyush Goyal, Mr Lalwani said that it is “against Indian culture to offer such services in the presence of women”.
Indian Railways are looking to generate additional revenue through the massages, provided by certified independent masseurs who will pay fees to the train operators.
"Is providing these kind of services in front of women in accordance with the principles of Indian culture?” asked Mr Lalwani.
“Providing passengers medical aid and doctors are important for the railways, not these standardless services in my opinion," Mr Lalwani wrote in his letter.
The services have been divided into three categories: gold, diamond and platinum. For gold, any “non-sticky oil” or olive oil will be used for Rs 100 (£1.20).
The diamond service will be provided for Rs 200 with “any essential oil”, and the platinum package will be “with [moisturising] cream” for Rs 300. All the services will be provided for 15-20 minutes.
"I can understand this service being provided in tourist trains or even Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains,”, said Mr Lalwani, referring to high-speed, cross-country trains that often ferry tourists. “But not in passenger trains as is being planned.
"In passenger trains who cares for massages? They are poor people and the journeys last for three to four hours. Who needs a massage there?"
“I think this is completely unnecessary and many women groups here have also complained about it," Mr Lalwani said.
The scheme is part of a wider push by Indian Railways to raise non-fare revenues through creative new ideas.
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