oppn parties Prabhu Presents a Sensible Budget

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  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
  • Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress postpone meeting the governor of Maharashtra
  • Shiv Sena not to attend the NDA meeting on 17th November, says break up "a formality"
  • Shiv Sena says that the confidence the BJP is showing about forming the government in Maharashtra is based purely on its expectation of getting numbers through horse trading
  • Anil Ambani resigns as director of the bankrupt Reliance Communications
  • India beat Bangladesh by an innings and 150 rums inside three days in the first Test. Indian pacers excel after Mayank Agarwal's double century
  • Sena-NCP-Congress work out a common minimum programme, will form the government soon and it will last 5 years, says Sharad Pawar
  • Income Tax Appellate Tribunal upholds the decision to withdraw the charitable status of Young India, making it liable to pay Rs 145 in income tax. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra are the majority shareholders in the company
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
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Prabhu Presents a Sensible Budget

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The angry shouting by MP’s that took place when Suresh Prabhu ended his budget speech told the whole story. Prabhu has presented a very sensible and forward looking budget that has eschewed populism and looks to manage rail resources in a tight and prudent manner. The MP’s were angry as Pradhu had not announced any new trains â€" as many of them would have petitioned him to. But where is the money? The minister has set a precedent â€" it is the first time that no new trains have been announced in the rail budget.

The emphasis is on optimum utilization of existing resources, transparency and monetization of assets. A road map has been created for the development of the railways in the next five years and during this period the minister seeks to invest 8.5 lakh crore. This money he proposes to get from various sources, including the private sector under PPP route. He could have increased passenger fares by at least 10 % to reduce cross subsidization from freight charges. That would have given him the cushion to rationalize freight charges and bring more volumes. He has begun the process of digitizing the assets inventory, which will ensure optimum use and induct transparency.

The emphasis is also on providing facilities like more toilets, better stations, wi-fi at stations, security for women passengers, better and increased drinking water facilities and better food for passengers. Some elements of PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat abhiyan come in as the minister said that a Swachh Railways will ensure a Swachh Bharat. The minister proposes to train frontline staff in soft skills so that the passengers feel welcome. He has also increased the advance ticket booking time to 120 days in order to end the tout menace.

Where the minister has missed out is in taking this opportunity to corporatize the railways. He could have broken the utility into several companies like the Konkan Railway. That would have brought in much needed funds through share sale and would have professionalized the utility. It would have also meant that it would have ceased to be a government department. Perhaps, it would also have made his post redundant.

Prabhu has said that everything cannot be done in the first year. But well begun is half done. He has begun well. Let us hope he continues to go beyond populist measures and nurses back the railways to the pink of health. It is a tough call, but Prabhu has shown steps can be taken if the will is there.