February 26, 2008
It was all the way, ‘aaja meri gaadi me baith jaa’ in the Parliament house today as Lalu Yadav presented the much awaited railway budget.
And as expected, it was a populist one. As expected, it reflected vote bank politics??
It actually took me sometime for the feeling to sink in. Let us work it out together and figure out how it reads in reality???
1) Safety and Security cannot be ignored
Catch: A plain statement
2) Concessions and Discounts: AC I class fares reduced by 7 per cent, AC II class fares reduced by 4 per cent, Re 1 discount on fares up to Rs 50 in non suburban II class, 5 per cent discount on second class fares in mail/express.
Reaction: A populist measure.
Catch: the concessions are not on popular trains, not during peak time.
3) Freight rate reduction: He made a point to repeat the freight reduction point some 2-3 times—–that there would be around 14% reduction in freight rates
Reaction: Good news
Catch:14 per cent is only on fly ash, it is 5 per cent reduction in freight rate for petrol and diesel and 6 percent on traffic to the North Eastern states
4) New Trains: 53 new pairs of trains to be introduced, 10 new ‘Garib Raths’ to be introduced Reaction: Good news
Catch: That would take some time. And what?s the big deal in making promises, after all those made in the last budget are yet to be fulfilled.
5) Special train between Pune-Delhi for Commonwealth Youth Games
Reaction: I am still looking for a catch here, but hope there isn’t any!
6) Concessions for senior women
Reaction: Great News!
7) Railway examination will now be held even in Urdu
Reaction: That is good, but comes across as sheer vote bank politics; do you still need a catch here?
Well, I am still reading the fine print and hope to finish it before the general budget session!
But what is applaudable is the fact that he is one charismatic Railway Minister who has managed a status quo as far as the fares are concerned. And he has managed to put in a financial game that works well for the political arena as well. And also, it might just keep the inflation levels under control (Was Mr Chidambaram the brain behind it?? )
Now, all I wish to do is, wish all the best to the next railway minister!!
On a concluding note, anybody game for a dream budget post??