Friday, February 13, 2009

The Interim Railway Budget

The dictionary meaning of the word 'Interim' is Serving during an intermediate interval of time but in the context of Indian politics is all about pleasing the ordinary citizens with some petty sops ahead of the elections. Lalu Prasad Yadav surely presented the Interim Railway Budget for the year 2009-10 keeping an eye on the upcoming General Elections.

Although the Bihar politician is credited with reviving the Indian Railways and making it a profit making body he dosent seem to trust his performance in the last five years. His interim budget was too much of a pleasing act. His introduction of 43 new trains (bulk of which will surely go to Bihar) is far ahead of his predecessor Nitish Kumar's 17 trains proposed in his Interim Budget of 2004-05.

Considering the current state of the economy and long list of pending projects many of the promises made in this budget were uncalled for. It may be mentioned that many of the trains proposed in the last budget like the 5901 Yeshwanthpur – Dibrugarh Express are yet to see their flag off and here our minister has already proposed 43 new trains.

Starting a new train has an estimated cost of 90-100 crores depending on the type of train. To flag off 43 new trains including some pending from the previous budgets will burn a hole in Indian Railways' pocket. True railways connect the length and breadth of the country but behind each project there needs to be good reasoning not just a populist stand.

Now a question arises are we Indians insane enough to be fooled by such things? The answer unfortunately seems to be 'yes' as in this country promise of colour television have got a government elected. Hopefully the promised trains have their flag off ans don't add up in the already long list of pending trains. Lalu did well as a Railway minister and could have trusted his performance.


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