oppn parties Railways Need a Shot in the Arm

News Snippets

  • S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, says Pakistan should release and repatriate Kulbhushan Jadhav immediately
  • Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala asks the Speaker to hold the trust vote latest by 1.30 pm today
  • The Government sends a list of 24 questions to mobile app company that runs video app TikTok seeking answers for anti-national and obscene content carried on the platform
  • Sarvana Bhawan founder P Rajagopal, serving a life term for murder, dies in a Chennai hospital
  • SC allows time till July 31 to the Ayodhya mediation panel
  • IT department attaches "benami" plot worth Rs 400cr in Noida. The plot allegedly belongs to BSP leader [email protected]@@s brother and his wife
  • Dawood [email protected]@@s nephew, Md. Rizwan Iqbal, was arrested from Mumbai airport as he was waiting to board a flight to Dubai
  • Trouble brews in Bihar JD(U)-BJP alliance as Bihar police asks special branch officers to keep tabs on RSS activities
  • Trust vote in Karnataka assembly today. With rebel MLAs deciding to stay away after the SC order, the Congress-JD(S) government is likely to fall as it does not have the numbers
  • Amit Shah says the government will identify and deport illegal immigrants from all parts of the country
  • Reports from Pakistan confirm that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested and sent to jail
  • After the SC order, Karnataka Speaker says he will go by the Constitution in deciding on the resignations of the 16 MLAs
  • Rebel MLAs say they will not attend the trust vote on Thursday
  • Supreme Court rules that rebel MLAs cannot be forced to attend the assembly and vote in the floor test
  • Both the Centre and the Assam government have sought re-verification of up to 20% of draft NRC data
International Court of Justice agrees with India, stays Kulbhushan Jadhav's execution. It asks Pakistan to allow consular access to the accused.
oppn parties
Railways Need a Shot in the Arm

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.
As Suresh Prabhu readies the Railway Budget for 2015, he faces a host of difficulties. He is new to the job, having been appointed in November 2014. Plus, he faces an acute financial crunch â€" he needs nearly Rs 2 lakh crore just to fund the pending projects. Finally, the option of across the board fare increase needs to be curbed due to political considerations.

Against this background, it is certain that the minister will look to raise funds from budgetary support from the main budget and joint ventures with the private sector. While the former is not advisable as it puts unnecessary strain on the country’s resources, the latter will be a welcome move. The Railways present a gigantic â€" and profitable â€" business opportunity for the country’s private investors. If projects are envisaged with commercial viability and the private players can expect a reasonable return, there will not be a dearth of funds. But the problem is that the Railways often take up projects out of populist thinking. These projects drain the resources of the organization and will not attract private investment.

Another long term overhaul suggested by many experts, including the Economic Times, is to spin off the Railways into several independent corporations like the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. with a road map to privatize the same through sale of shares to the public. That would bring in much needed cash for the utility.

For the present, the minister should eschew populism and try and run a tight ship. There are several areas that can bring in cash. For instance, the Railways are sitting on acres of prime land. These should be put to optimum use through development through joint ventures. Even at stations, the retiring rooms are huge and ungainly. They should be redesigned to make them modern and an aggressive campaign should be made to ensure full use. There are several ways that the Railways can earn money apart from its core business. They should be explored in full. For this, out of the box thinking is required. The minister should involve domain experts from all over the world to turn around a utility that has maximum assets and is the biggest employer in India.