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Friday, July 3, 2009



Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams, Chapter 274

Palash Biswas

West Bengal wagon makers rejoice over Railway Budget

Hindu - ‎5 hours ago‎
Kolkata (IANS): Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's pledge that her ministry will buy 18000 wagons in 2009-10 has excited West Bengal's wagon makers on ...
Mamata's 'Bengal Express' Financial Express

Rail budget planned with Assembly polls in mind: CPI(M)

Hindu - ‎6 hours ago‎
New Delhi (PTI) The CPI(M) on Friday said Mamata Banerjee had prepared the Rail Budget with the 2011 West Bengal Assembly elections in mind. ...

Blasts near Lalgarh BDO office

Times of India - Caesar Mandal - ‎18 hours ago‎
LALGARH: The Maoists made their presence felt in Lalgarh with a landmine explosion barely 50 feet away from a police checkpost, around 7.30 on Thursday ...
Hindu - Times of India

West Bengal assembly faces uproar over Medha Patkar arrest

Economic Times - ‎1 hour ago‎
KOLKATA: West Bengal assembly has witnessed an uproar over the arrest of human rights activist Medha Patkar near Debra in West Midnapore district. ...
Decks clear for Privatisation of Indian Railways | Palash Speaks
Decks clear for Privatisation of Indian Railways Read Palash Speaks Blogs, Decks clear for Privatisation of Indian Railways Blogs at Ibibo Blogs. - Cached - Similar -



Medha Patkar makes film debut

3 Jul 2009, 0000 hrs IST, NICOLE DASTUR , TNN
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She's made her presence felt in real life, fighting for people's rights.
Medha Patkar
Medha Patkar

Now, she's all set to do the same on-screen. Narmada Bachao Andolan's Medha Patkar will be making her film debut in the Jayprad Desai-directed Marathi movie Swarajya. This story of real people in real situations (the director says the film is about greed and ambition, values and ideals, struggle and survival) deals with the conflict faced by a journalist who refuses to compromise on his values and finally launches his own newspaper. And the fiery Medha is playing herself, doing what she has been doing since years, only in front of the camera now!

What's more, the film also has two Oscar winners as part of its talented crew — Bhanu Athaiya, the first Indian to have won an Oscar for her costumes for the 1982 film Gandhi and Resul Pookutty who bagged an Oscar for his sound design for Slumdog Millionaire.

"Working for Swarajya is my way of giving back to the city which has given me accolades. The script and the passion of the director struck me, here's someone who wants to make a meaningful film in and about his motherland," says Resul. Bhanu, too, is excited about working on a film in her own mother tongue. "It is a contemporary film set against the social and political background of Maharashtra," she adds.
Two Oscar winners behind the scenes and one real-life fiesty woman in front of it... well, here's something to look out for!

Highlights of Railway Budget 2009-10

New Delhi (PTI) The Railway Budget for 2009-10 on Friday left passenger fares and freight rates untouched, in what is seen as the UPA government's return gift to the people who gave it a second straight term in office.

The following are the highlights of the Railway Budget:

* Passenger and freight rates across board left unchanged.

* Net revenue of Railways at Rs 8,121 crores in 2008-09.

* To pay higher dividend Rs 5,479 crores to Centre in FY'10.

* Tatkal charges reduced from Rs 150 to Rs 100.

* Ladies' specials in suburban trains during peak hours

* 'Izzat' monthly ticket of Rs 25 for up to 100 km travel.

* New coach factory at Kanchrapara in West Bengal.

* Cold storages for farmers to store vegetables and fruits.

* Talks to take over ailing wagon manufacturing units.

* 18,000 wagons to be acquired during the current year.

* Railway medical colleges along with rail hospitals on PPP.

Today's galleries:

Shruti Hassan's Luck, not by chanceMamata presents Railway Budget

* Student concession will cover Madrasa students.

* Special coaches for disabled and aged persons.

* 50 stations to be developed on world-class standard.

* 375 stations to be upgraded as 'Adarsh' stations with basic facilities - drinking water, toilets and ladies' dormitories.

* On-board availability of doctors in long distance trains.

* On-board infotainment services to be provided.

* 6,560 staff quarters to be constructed in 2009-10.

* High-capacity A/C double-decker trains to be introduced.

* 57 new trains to be introduced.

* 12 non-stop trains to be introduced.

* Accredited journalists to get 50 per cent rebate; also once a year with spouse.

* Proposes 1,000 MW power plant at Adra, a tribal area.

* Cash surplus of Rs 17,400 crores before dividend.

* Railways has investible surplus of Rs 12,681 crores.

* Annual plan expenditure pegged at Rs 36,336 crores.

I have already written. The Parliamentary SOP OPERA Act Two has just opened as Heated exchanges between RJD and BJP members over the issue of tabling the report of Liberhan Commission on Babri Masjid demolition on Friday briefly disrupted the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha. The Diversion game is effective with Surgical Precision thanks to UNPRECEDENTED Floor Coordination amongst the different wings of Manusmriti Hegemony.

Last night , I talked to two young English journalists.

Shamik is a RIGID supporter of Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Economic Agenda. Like the most of the journalists working as CONTACT labour in Toilet Press, Shamik  is all GA GA to SEE INDIA Americanised. He claims that India is next to America thanks to Open market. According to the young Energetic guy, opening Public Sector would make things and services available at low cost without any hackle. As it happened with Telecoms and Internet!

But he strikingly opined that India is the second Super Power after America as EUROPE is Mereged with United States of America losing European Identity despite EURO and European community. Europe lacks separate identity and is tagged with USA. He asks when European countries have lost Identity and are treated as developed countries and races, why India should lag behind!

Europe losing its Identity, is an EYE opening observation!

Thanks SHAMIK. Once he told me that the Bengalies replicated ANGLO Saxons and Bengalies are habitually Colonial. I agreed with him and used the concept analysing Bengal and Bengalies!

Since the MARSHALL Doctrine was used to block communism in Europe, since appeasement was practiced in promoting Hitler and Mussolini, Europe lost Identity and USA emerged Supreme Power gradually and hold the Post Modern Manusmriti Apartheid Zionist Tri Iblis satanic Illuminati corporate Order in COMMAND! Shamik is Historically correct!

Since EUROPE went to HELL as a former colony of United Kingdom, we must FOLLOW suit!
No, it may not be a personal opinion. It is GENERAL Opinion of the Brahaminical ruling Class replicated by Privileged CREAMY layer of the ENSLAVED Indian Majority masses completely fallen ILL with intense DEMENTIA and Personality Disorder supported by DRUG Addiction and EFFLUENT Neo Social status across the Caste Line thanks to reservation and quota!

The BRAIN Wash and Mind control is complete as Civil society, Intelligentsia and Policy makers align with Media to destroy the Aboriginal Indigenous Communities. May be I missed the item, have you followed any parliamentary MINUTE questioning the agenda of Economic survey and Mass Destruction! Rather our Representatives engaged in Barbi Babri debate as it was PREPLANNED with excellent TIMING to Guillotine all types of anti People Legislation!

What  is the after effects and reactions of Mamata mail? No body even noticed that it is DESTINED to Hell with large scale Privatisation as the ECONOMIC Survey hinted last evening! Rather the TOILET Media highlighted the CELEBRATION all over Bengal and the GRUDGE in DEPRIVED Bihar, It was projected as a WWF assignment in between Mamata and Lalu paying some tribute to NITISH Kumar!

Stunningly, the LEFT posed MUM and dared not to UTTER a single word against the MASS SLAUGHTER!

I talked to another young Journalist Nadim who warned me , PROVIDED any or whatsoever National Resistance or nationwide Liberation Movement emerges, all Parliamentary parties would stand UNIFIED to DESTROY the Aboriginal Indigenous and Minority communities, the Black Untouchables!

Her you are!


Meanwhile, a demand was made by two members in the Lok Sabha on Friday for sacking of the Union Minister who allegedly tried to "pressurise" a judge of the Madras High Court to sanction anticipatory bail to the accused in a marksheet forgery case.

As soon as the House met for the day, RJD chief Lalu Prasad demanded tabling of the report, sparking protests from BJP members led by Ananth Kumar and Gopinath Munde.

Mr. Prasad was supported by SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, even as the members in treasury benches watched silently.

Amid the din, Speaker Meira Kumar ordered that all remarks should be expunged and carried on with the Question Hour.
On the other hand,  Anupam Gupta, Counsel for the Commission of Inquiry that went into the Babri Masjid demolition, has said that BJP leader L K Advani is
"Achilles heel" of Justice M S Liberhan and "inputs" suggest that the former Deputy Prime Minister does not not seem to be among those "individually indicted".

It was apparent that he (Justice Liberhan) wanted to "extricate" Advani from the imbroglio of the demolition, Gupta said in an interview to a magazine.

Gupta, who dissociated himself from the Commission more than two years ago following differences with Justice M S Liberhan on his approach to Advani, told the magazine that "based on my decade-long association with Justice Liberhan, I am convinced that Advani is his Achilles heel.

"This, I would vouch for, regardless of what the report might actually say about Advani."

He said the real test of Justice Liberhan's report would be his analysis of L K Advani's role and responsibility in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

"Initial media reports and other inputs suggest that while other leading lights of the Sangh parivar have been individually indicted, Advani does not not seem to be among them," he said.

I am DISCONNECTED even now as my Telephone number 91-33-25659551 remains DEAD since Sunday Accident in Sodepur. Demonstration and Road Blocked restored electricity and water supply. But Land Line remains EMERGENCY service no more thanks to Telecoms Revolution and SAM PITRODA. My Net is connected by cable. All land line phone numbers with Exchange number 2565 remain dead all along Barasat road in Sodepur and the new Telephone line is required.

Please call me on my Cell Phone 919903717833.

 It is heavy load on my Cell Phones as some one or other calls it and the CELL goes off so frequently, please bear with me.

This Morning I was glad to say that ANAND BAZAR Patrica published the Disinvest Agenda details with Graphic presentation of Highlights of the DESTRUCTIVE Economic Survey  Presented by Washington Slave and Key Stone of Indian Incorporation Anti people Government. Patrika, of course, emphasised on the CONTINUITY of Reforms and did Celebrate it.

I told my friends in South, Mumbai, New Delhi and GUJARAT that we are rather lucky that Mainstream News daily with a Circulation over 14 lacs published the Economic survey as it is. It would help us to mobilise our people. I was amazed to interact with scores of our people well educated and well placed that they simply SKIPPED the item as none of them happens to be concerned with any Social or Political Liability. They are totally IMMERSED in ACUTE Economism and it is DRUG Addiction of a worse kind!

The state power treats our people SUB HUMAN and denies us of OUR BASIC Human Rights! They love to see us STRIVING, DISPLACED, Unemployed and Confused, They would Never recognise the nationalities and identities. They will never allow the Nature and nature associated people to SURVIVE. All zones of Protest have been handed over to CIA and Mossad. They are FREE to declare ENTIRE Nation DISTURBED as Mrs Indira Gandhi did in 1975 declaring EMERGENCY. They may brand any community TERRORIST as a whole as the did with the SIKHS after Operation blue star and it was ETHNIC CLEANSING SIKH GENOCIDE. They may declare all nationalities and identities EXTREMIST and adopt ZERO TOLERANCE and MILITARY Option as they have done in North east and Kashmir and Danda karany and EXERCISING AFPSA in Lalgarh! They may hand over entire country to Military or United states of America and Israel.

They try their best to INVOKE a HELL in Indian Subcontinent. The DESTINATION is achieved in Pakistan and Srilanka!

Now they tries it in INDIA.

The India Incorporation Government of India and the POLICY makers treat us as CONSUMER deprived of CITIZENSHIP and nationality as well as Identity. They treat us all the people, the HAVE NOTS, deprived of Purchasing power in the OPEN market and retail chain as SUBHUMAN Underclasses and Out castes with a status of Permanent BEGGARS. They just PITY us.

Please BE AWARE of the PITY!

Please Be AWARE of ALMS!

Economic Times and MINT also published the Survey with details along with Business Standard, Financial Times, Hindu Business line and other Economic dailies.

Most of the mainstream English as well as Vernacular Electronic or Print media Diluted the Economic survey and projected only the FLAGSHIP Welfare Programmes!

For Example, The Telegraph skipped the item on front page and rather PUBLISHED a HALF page article by KPS GILL glorifying the Military Option adopted in Assam, Kashmir, Punjab and North East.

Just read the article!

The suspension of common sense and the astonishing embrace of nonsense
As I briefly toured West Midnapore district during the police action in Lalgarh (I was prevented from going into the affected area on "security" grounds), the most dramatic lessons of the crisis, through all its phases. ...  | Read.. 
Court rules against gay prejudice
If you're gay, you may. ...  | Read.. 

The suspension of common sense and the astonishing embrace of nonsense

...Nonsense continues to be given wide publicity, not only by ill-informed 'intellectuals', but, astonishingly, by the Marxist party leadership as well, even as the threat's magnitude is denied...


Shoe-throw sack after 3 months
Jarnail Singh, the journalist who lobbed a shoe at home minister P. Chidambaram in frustration ...  | Read..
Simplicity in raw colours of pain
Tyeb Mehta may have shot to international fame when his Mahisasura, painted in 1997, won the ...  | Read..
The suspension of common sense and the astonishing embrace of nonsense

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's budget proposals presented in the Lok Sabha on Friday did not include private sector participation in running of passenger trains on tourist routes, as suggested by the Economic Survey 2008-09.

"Private entry into provision of passenger trains must be allowed to and from all the tourist destinations," the survey tabled in Parliament a day earlier had said.

"About a dozen tourist routes could be identified and a single licence issued to private companies to provide passenger service to one or all routes," it added.

The Indian Railways have allowed the entry of private companies to run luxury trains like the Palace on Wheels, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels and Deccan Odyssey to specific locations.

These trains are operated in partnership with the state governments on a revenue-sharing basis.

Ms. Banerjee, however, is in favour of the public-private partnership (PPP) model for setting up of electric multiple units (EMU) factory, development of integrated commercial complexes, modernisation of Railways' printing presses and setting up of logistics parks.

Meanwhile, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee  accused Chhatradhar Mahato of providing "an open platform" to Maoists in Lalgarh and backed his home secretary who had said the tribal leader should be arrested.

"Chhatradhar Mahato is not a Maoist but his People's Committee Against Police Atrocities is providing an open platform to the Maoists to carry on their activities in Lalgarh," the chief minister told the Assembly today.

 Mahato had said if the government wanted talks with the Lalgarh tribals, they should drop plans to arrest him and pull out the security forces from the area. His statement came two days after home secretary Ardhendu Sen said Mahato should be arrested. Sen also ruled out talks.

Bhattacharjee said: "There was nothing wrong in the home secretary's statement when he said Mahato was not officially connected with Maoists." But still, Mahato would be arrested, the chief minister said.
While Mamata Bannerjee was busy in Railway Budget, West Bengal assembly has witnessed an uproar over the arrest of human rights activist Medha Patkar near Debra in West Midnapore district.

Opposition leader and Trinamool Congress MLA Partha Chatterjee raised a point of order and questioned the arrest of Medha. "How can the government arrest her at Debra which is about 80 kilometre from Lalgarh," asked Chatterjee.

He also demanded immediate release of the rights activist and said that the government had already established a reign of terror and was trying to suppress all the protests against state-sponsored terrorism.

Police sources said that Medha along with her followers had a plan to go to Lalgarh where police action against the Maoists was still on and where prohibitory order under section 144 Cr.PC was still in force.

Meanwhile, the SUCI, an ally of Trinamool Congress condemned the arrest of Medha. SUCI state secretary Provas Ghosh has said in a statement that the police had resorted to lathicharge at Debra in which a number of journalists received serious injuries.

Ghosh also demanded withdrawal of police action in Lalgarh.

The fire brand politician reincarnated as the Indian Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee presented her third budget in the Parliament and took on the challenge of Public Private Partnership head on. Indian Railways is looking at developing 50 world class stations as public private partnership projects. In addition she proposes to set up committees to turn social projects into economically viable proposition. The strength of her Budget speech this year is perhaps best assessed on the parameters of global-local approach and the profits that show up in Indian Railways' balance sheet next year. On the other hand,Dismissing Mamata Banerjee's Railway Budget as "impractical", RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said it was based on "his achievements" when he was at the helm.Lalu  added that he had questioned the need for issuing a white paper on the situation of the ministry during his tenure.


BJP on Friday described the Railway Budget as "unrealistic and based on fantasy" and accused Railway Minister Mamata Bannerjee of ignoring vital aspects like security and expansion activities.
Terming it a "mixed' railway budget, West Bengal's ruling Left Front chairman Biman Bose criticised the privatisation schemes introduced in the new budgetary plans by Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday.

"It's a mixed budget and the thrust is on more and more privatisation. We are opposed to rampant privatisation schemes," Bose told reporters in Kolkata.
He said: "As far as I know, there's been no mention in the railway budget about more than 125 projects which are now pending with the railways. The minister also has not mentioned anything about filling up the existing vacancies in the railways.
"As this budget, tabled for the current financial year, is signalling a growth of privatisation in the Indian railways, I think it would not be very good for our future."

Senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and member of Lok Sabha from West Bengal Gurudas Dagupta said that Banerjee had scrupulously followed privatisation policy of the union government.

"For the first time, the railway land, which is the land for people, will be used for joint venture and private sector business.
"She is introducing privatisation in every sphere of the railways. It's a prelude to gripping privatisation of the Indian Railways," Dasgupta added.
While the communists opposed Banerjee's railway budget, the Congress leaders in the state welcomed it saying the minister has presented a "pro-people budget".
"We're happy to announce that Mamata Banerjee today (Friday) has placed a historic and a pro-people budget," state Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Manas Bhuniya told reporters in Kolkata.
Trinamool Congress senior leader Partha Chattopadhyay also appreciated the budget. He said Banerjee has successfully lived up to the expectations of the common people who had reposed their faith in her in the recent-concluded Lok Sabha elections.

"This budget will not only benefit West Bengal alone but it will help the entire nation in terms of developing connectivity. She (Banerjee) has given equal attention to all aspects of the railways irrespective of any particular region," Chattopadhyay said.

The most credible introduction to the Railway Minister comes from none other than Rahul Gandhi. The Gandhi icon said, Mamata is a people's person- not that Ratan Tata would be ready to vouch for Rahul's word on Mamata. What stays undisputed however is that the veteran politician's most significant personality streak is 'populism'. Yes, Mamata Banerjee is a populist leader and hence the right person to push UPA's 'aam aadmi' agenda- within the constraints of budget outlays that is. She is also the right person to cut Left forces to size- a fact duly established in just concluded General Elections.

As for the railways, Banerjee promised a judicious mix of austerity, social justice and sops and seems to have missed out on balanced regional impetus. Nevertheless Banerjee's 60% concession to students; emphasis on 'Janta khana'; train tickets disbursement from 5000 post offices; mobile ticket vending machines- all these establish beyond doubt that the lady keeps a tab on the pulse of the masses.

Not long back Mamata Banerjee was considered as a 'political oddball', says a BBC report. Tata's Nano and the battle that ensued in Singur almost proved to be a rebirth for her.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Mamata to develop 50 world class stations on PPP basis

Mamata to develop 50 world class stations on PPP basis

Budget 2009: The complete coverage

No increase in passenger or freight fares; SMS updates for passengers on waiting list; 60% concession to students, new point to point fast trains and 50 world class stations are the high points of the Railway Budget 2009. Banerjee presented her third budget in the Parliament on Friday after a gap of eight years.

Highlights of Railway Budget 2009:

1.25 pm: Mamata Banerjee concludes Railway Budget 2009; Parliament to debate and pass it before July 31st

1.24 pm: No increase in passenger or freight fares

1.20 pm: Yuva Trains for youngsters at Rs 200 for 1500 km distance

1.18 pm:  12 new point to point non- stop 'Turanto' fast trains announced from - New Howrah-Mumbai; Chennai-Delhi;  Delhi-Pune;  Howrah-Delhi;  Kolkata-Amritsar

1.15 pm:  Mamata's world class stations to  include - Pune, Howrah, Nagpur, CST Mumbai, New Delhi, Lucknow, Amritsar, Tirupati, Bangalore, Bhopal, Goa Junction, Matura, Mangalore, Kochi, Chandigarh, Chennai

1.10 pm: SMS updates for passengers on waiting list

1.05 pm: 60 % fare concession for all students

1.00 pm:  'Turanto' – a new point to point train announced

12.59 pm: Scheme Izzat:  Rs 25 monthly passes for 100 km train travel

12.57 pm: AC- double decker coaches for inter-city trains

12.55 pm: Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor to be constructed like the Trade corridor

12.54 pm: Aircraft like toilets in every train that goes beyond two hours

12. 47 pm: Integrated security system at 150 sensitive stations

12. 46 pm: MPs invited to identify locations for computerized ticket vending spots

12.45 pm: At least one doctor on every long distance train

12. 44 pm: Expert committees to look into economic viability of social projects

12.42 pm: Review of Centre- State cost sharing of Railway projects

12.42 pm: Train tickets from 5000 post offices

12.40 pm: 800 new locations for ticket reservations

12. 35 pm: Multi-functional facilities like bookstores and STD booths to be made available at train stations

12.32 pm: Automated laundries, ticket vending machines  on cards

12.32 pm: Automated laundries, ticket vending machines  on cards

12.29 pm: Multi-functional compelexes at 29 stations

12.25 pm:  50 World Class stations including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata

12.25 pm: Priority to Tier II cities

12.21 pm: Indian Railways must set an example in terms of inclusive growth

12.19 pm: Mamata: Railway Budget 2009 will be of the people; for the people and  by the people

12.15 pm: Mamata tables her third Railway Budget in Parliament

12.04 PM: Banerjee expected to strike balance between austerity, amenities and new projects

11.30 am: Mamata reaches Parliament to set the ball rolling for Railway Budget 2009

Highlights of 2009 Railway Budget:




Image gallery

Message Boards

Mamata's white paper will expose Lalu: Nitish

Patna (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday said Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's promise to bring out a white paper on the present financial status of the Railways would 'expose' her predecessor, Lalu Prasad.

It would unravel the truth behind his claims that the Railways earned huge profits successively during his five-year tenure, Mr. Kumar, a former railway minister, told reporters.

"The decline shown in the cash surplus and increase in the operating ratio from 70 to 92.5 per cent proposed for the current fiscal will bring to the light the facts relating to the Railways earning profits," Mr. Kumar said.

Mr. Kumar had earlier demanded a probe into alleged jugglery of figures in profits shown between 2004 and 2009.

He also appreciated Ms. Banerjee for scaling down targets of Railways and promising realistically.

"It is clear departure from Lalu Prasad's budgetary speeches which remained a bundle of promises much beyond the targets possible to be achieved," he said.

Mr. Kumar was averse to the continuation of the 'Tatkal' scheme with Ms. Banerjee proposing to reduce the period of advance booking of tickets under the scheme from five days to two days.

Mr. Kumar also called for early completion of all the pending rail projects in Bihar.

"Banerjee's vision 2020 for railways is based on the achievements made during my five year's stint as Railway Minister," he said.

When asked if she read out a budget presented by him earlier, Prasad said, "She did not present the right budget of Lalu."

Faulting Banerjee's decision to run double-decker trains and start new non-stop point to point (Duronto) train services he said, "They are impractical."

Reacting sharply to Banerjee's decision of issuing a white paper, Prasad said, "I do not know what is in her mind but there will be confusion due to this white paper thin.This is shortsightedness. But what fear one can have when he is right."

"Have I committed any fraud or is there any stealth that I should fear. Nothing was hidden in railway budgets for five years that I presented. They were studied by IIM, Ahmedabad, audited by CAG as also Railways. But if any body has any confusion, he can correct it," he added.

Prasad also accused Banerjee of discriminating against Bihar, saying that railway stations of his states do not figure in the list of model stations or the route of Duronto trains as announced in the rail budget.


Lalu says Mamata 'has a complex'

New Delhi (PTI) Out in the cold in the new dispensation, RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Friday sought to embarrass Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on the rail budget saying she had used his achievements in the Ministry to build her case.

Mr. Prasad, the former Railway Minister who was not preferred by the Congress leadership in the new government, also accused her of neglecting Bihar in the budget.

In a combative mood, Mr. Prasad said he was not bothered by the Minister's declaration of coming out with a white paper on the organisational, operational and financial situation and performance of Railways in the past five years when Mr. Prasad was at the helm.

"This is not an embarrassment (that a white paper is coming out). Let her bring out white paper. I am not bothered," he told reporters after Ms. Banerjee presented the rail budget in Lok Sabha.

"Is this a budget? She has just read out what I had announced during my stint...She suffers from a complex," he said.

Mr. Prasad claimed there was "nothing new" in the budget and that she had just read out what he had prepared during his stint. "She has used my achievements as a base to build her vision," he said.


Maoists issue double blast reminder to state
Policemen at a blast site near the Binpur I BDO's office on Thursday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

Lalgarh, July 2: Suspected Maoists today detonated two improvised explosive devices barely a hundred metres from the office of the Binpur I block development officer hours before two state government secretaries were to hold a meeting.

The two simultaneous blasts in Lalgarh town — the devices were planted at the side of a metalled road leading from Jhitka forest to the town — at 7.30am did not cause injuries but startled the administration that has 900 state and central security personnel deployed in the area right now.

A policeman standing nearby was so startled that he involuntarily pulled the trigger releasing a bullet.

"We are investigating how the IEDs was planted so close to the BDO's office," said Praveen Kumar, DIG, Midnapore range. "They may have been planted last night as the area had been sanitised by the police and nothing had been found."

Police sources said though patrolling had been done routinely, there was no police posting in that area last night.

The police said the IEDs were detonated by Maoists who were hiding in bushes about 200m away. They could have fled into the Jhitka forest.

"This has been a serious lapse and we have to be more careful at night," said a police officer.

"The Maoists obviously took advantage of the situation and detonated the IEDs to drive home two messages. One, that it would be hazardous to dismiss them lightly and that they are still a force to reckon with. Second, that they are opposed to the government's efforts to start development work here."

The meeting of two state government secretaries was, however, held at the BDO's office as scheduled. "Our schedule was not upset by the blasts," said Sourav Das, the secretary of the public health engineering department. "The blasts were meant to create panic among the people."

Two other senior officers, Subrata Gupta, the managing director of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, and revenue secretary C.M. Bachawat, who were sent to Lalgarh to check on the progress of irrigation projects, travelled to different areas in mine-protected vehicles.

Immediately after the blasts, 400 central police personnel fanned out in the Jhitka forest. The troops combed the jungles in the rain right up to Kantapahari, covering a stretch of 6km. No Maoist was caught.

In Lalgarh, the police increased security after the blasts and put up checkposts where cars were stopped and searched.

In Bankura, an IED wrapped in plastic was found at Tantidanga on the Piralgari-Sarenga road near Sarenga police station this afternoon, reports our special correspondent.

Local residents alerted a police team this afternoon after spotting a device with wires sticking out of it.

Yesterday, three kilograms of explosives packed in a metal container was found planted at Khayerpahari.

After yesterday's find, a n anti-sabotage drive was carried out by the police from dawn to dusk today.
Friday, July 03, 2009

Mayawati at it again; Fresh trouble for Varun Gandhi over hate speeches

Mayawati at it again; Fresh trouble for Varun Gandhi over hate speeches

Lucknow: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Varun Gandhi's reported hate speeches have landed him in fresh trouble with the Uttar Pradesh government Friday sanctioning legal action against him for promoting communal disharmony.

"We have given the nod to the Pilibhit district administration to start proceedings against Varun under the Section 153 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deals with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony," a state home department official told IANS.

The approval for initiating legal penal action against Varun Gandhi, who courted controversy with his alleged hate speeches during the run-up to the recent Lok Sabha elections, was taken after consulting experts of the law department, he added.

According to police, a charge sheet was prepared against Varun Gandhi after forensic experts confirmed that three CDs of the speeches he allegedly delivered in his constituency in March were genuine.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Tata Motors to drive in Nano to Africa in 2010

Abuja, Nigeria: Tata Motors, India's largest auto maker, will introduce its small car Nano - considered the world's cheapest - in Nigeria within next 18 months, ahead of its planned launch in Europe.

The car would be available for about NGN 360 for the base model, same as the price in the Indian markets. The car carries a price tag of Rs 1.23 lakh to Rs 1.72 lakh (ex-showroom) in the Indian capital for three variants.

"Tata Motors will make the Nano available in Nigeria in the next one year to one and a half years," a senior official of Tata Africa Nigeria, Sudeep Ray, said.

"The launching of the Nano was branded everyman behind the wheel and will benefit Nigerians much as public transport systems like metro are not available here.

"The car (Nano) will cost NGN 357,480 (about Rs 1.16 lakh) in Nigeria, which is much less than the price of most second hand saloon cars sold here," Ray said. The cost of an used car usually starts at NGN 500,000 in the country.

Ray, however, declined to give details whether the 'cheapest' car of the world be assembled in Nigeria or it would be sold as a completely-built-unit.

A Tata Motors spokesperson from India said: "The company has said that the Tata Nano can be marketed in other countries, but timelines, modes and countries are yet to be finalised."

Earlier in March, Tata Motors had showcased the European version of the Nano, which the company planned to launch by 2011.

Conceived in 2003, Tata Motors had launched the much- hyped 'cheapest' car in India on March 23 this year. The car has cost over Rs 2,000 crore to the company.

Tata cars, buses and trucks are being marketed in many countries in Europe, Africa, Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and Latin America. 

Budget 09's possible impact on personal finance?

July 3rd, 2009


For the actual event we need to wait till the first week of July 09 and the wishes are innumerable for a few columns of print, though we have attempted to present a handful in one of the earlier posts. In this post we take a look at what the industry and experts have to say regarding what can be expected out of the upcoming budgetary speech in the first week of July 09 from the perspective of personal finance.

There are wishes and there are expectations and then there are events. For the actual event we need to wait till the first week of July 09 and the wishes are innumerable for a few columns of print, though we have attempted to present a handful in one of the earlier posts. In this post we take a look at what the industry and experts have to say regarding what can be expected out of the upcoming budgetary speech in the first week of July 09 from the perspective of personal finance.

  1. Personal Income Tax

Changes are expected to increase the minimum slab for income tax charges. Rs. 2.5 L seems to be the figure in the minds of the decision makers. Also the tax benefit from Section 80C investments may be increased to Rs. 2 L from the present Rs.1 L . An infrastructure supporting investment may be part of this 2 L limit.

The Pension Development and Regulatory is also lobbying to get tax benefits for investment in the New Pension Plan.

  1. Insurance Sector

The IRDA is aggressive in its reforms process by itself. It has recently passed regulations to make sales persons support the customers throughout the term of the insurance plan by linking their long term commissions to the services offered.

As such the budget may only have to talk about increasing the investment limits of the foreign partners. Are there talks of LIC going public soon? Now, that can be a big step in a positive direction in this budget, as implementation could take a couple of years.

  1. Savings Schemes

Typical Government sponsored savings schemes are the EPF and Postal Savings. Both these need changes. EPF has fixed this year's rate at 8.5%. EPF office has said that all their reserves have been exhausted and hence cannot increase their payout rates. Postal savings had been at 8.5% for a long time now (Investment doubling in 8 years and 6 months). Their investment portfolio and management has always been a mystery.

Transparency is the need of the hour as well as there needs to be a conscious avoidance of recurrence of anything like the US64 Scheme of the erstwhile Unit Trust of India. This situation has been avoided in the NPS, it being a Unit Based Scheme. It is probably the right time now, in a down turn, to make these corpuses open to transparent & professional management.
Friday, July 03, 2009

Gas dispute: Anil Ambani moves SC against Mukesh's RIL

Mumbai: Anil Ambani group company RNRL Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking modification in the Bombay High Court order to make binding the gas supply from Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries.    

RNRL moved the Supreme Court two days after RIL said it would move the apex court on the Bombay High Court order that upheld Anil Ambani group's plea for 28 mmscmd of gas at a rate of $2.34 mmbtu but asked the two sides to negotiate an agreement for this.    

"After categorically ruling in our favour, court cannot ask us again to sit down with a party which is not willing to sit across...Not now, or even in the past," Reliance Natural Resources lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told reporters her.    

He said a special leave petition has been filed challenging the last part of the high court order asking RNRL to "again negotiate" after "ruling in our favour in terms of price of gas, tenure and quantity".

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Left Front routed in municipal polls in West Bengal

Kolkata: Close on the heels of the Lok Sabha election reverses, the Marxist bastion in West Bengal crumbled further on Wednesday with Trinamool Congress and Congress combine winning 13 municipalities among 16 that went to the polls on Sunday.

Nine of these municipalities were under the Left control, while six were under Congress and Trinamool Congress.

A new municipality was created at Dankuni in Hooghly district.

The CPI(M)-led Left Front managed to win in only three and that too in a tough contest.

Trinamool Congress wrested key municipalities like Asansol Municipal Corporation, Dum Dum, South Dum Dum, Uluberia, Mahestala, Madhyamgram and Rajpur-Sonarpur in south Bengal districts which were traditionally Left strongholds.

In a ward in Dum Dum, Left Front lost for the first time in 48 years while it had last lost in Asansol in 1980.

Trinamool along with Congress retained control in Kulti and Egra municipalities, while Congress held sway over the Kaliaganj and Islampur civic bodies in north Bengal.
The Left Front won in Rajarhat-Gopalpur in the eastern fringes of the city, Gangarampur in South Dinajpur and Mal in Jalpaiguri district, with the last having been wrested from a Congress-Trinamool board.

The CPI(M) also retained the Siliguri Mahukuma Parishad defeating Congress-Trinamool alliance by 4-3 seats.

The Trinamool Congress also won a by-election to Kolkata Corporation's ward no 63 which fell vacant after the death of TC leader and former Union Minister Ajit Panja.

An upbeat Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee said: "The CPI(M) government should draw a lesson from this verdict and step down. Despite their terror, the people have once again supported us within one and half month of the Lok Sabha poll."

An unexpected reaction came maverick CPI(M) leader and Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty who said: "Can anyone cling to power forcibly if the people don't not want it?"

State Congress working president Subrata Mukherjee said the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government "should quit accepting the people's verdict".

The Assembly elections in West Bengal are due in 2011. 

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fuel price hike impact: Truckers to up rentals 6 to 12%

New Delhi: The increase in diesel prices has raised truckers' operational costs 4 to 8 per cent, depending on the age and make of the truck. Diesel and tyres constitute 90 per cent of a truck's operating expenses on inter-state operations. Truck transport accounts for 78 per cent of good transported across India.

The rest may follow next week. "Truck rentals might go up 10 to 12 per cent probably from Monday," said Sanjiv Khanna, owner of a mid-sized Delhi-based transport company Delhi Modinagar Exp Transport.

There are doubts, however, whether truckers will be able to sustain this price rise. "How much the market, which is already in the midst of a slowdown, will be able to sustain this rise remains to be seen," said S P Singh, coordinator, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training.

Operators agree. "With diesel prices going up, operational costs have increased but the rise in rentals may not be huge owing to the slowdown in demand, " said Chiranjeet Singh, president, All India Motor Transport Congress, a truckers' association. 

"Input costs have gone up, but a rise in prices will depend on market forces," added Chittaranjan Dass, vice-president of another truckers' lobby, the All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners Association.

Truck rentals dropped 4 to 6 per cent over the May 6 to June 5 period on trunk routes owing to sharp declines agri-produce cargo and the tapering off the wheat procurement season.Agri-produce accounts for over 40 per cent of goods transported by truck.

Business Standard


Friday, July 03, 2009

Conversion, reconversion led to Kandhamal riots: Commission

Bhubaneswar: Conversion and re-conversion were among the major factors which led to the riots in Orissa's Kandhamal district last year, a judicial commission probing the violence has said.

"Sources of the violence were deeply rooted in land disputes, conversion and re-conversion and fake certificate issues," Justice S C Mohapatra, heading the one-man panel, said in his interim report on the violence in Kandhamal which claimed 43 lives besides damaging many houses and churches.

He, however, did not elaborate on the conversions and reconversions issue.

"Suspicion among the scheduled tribe and scheduled caste inhabitants of Kandhamal is the main cause of riots with the tribals suspecting that 'Pano' dalits were capturing their land through fraudulent means," Justice Mohapatra said.

Besides the issues of land and conversion and re-conversion, Justice Mohapatra said fake certificates were another major factor that created discontent among Kandha tribals who constitute 52 per cent of Kandhamal's population.

Justice Mohapatra, who submitted the interim report on July 1, said the government should take steps immediately to remove differences between the communities.

"I know it will take at least two years to complete inquiry, but interim report will help the government to make immediate intervention," he said.

Justice Mohapatra said in his 28-page report that most Kandha tribals were uneducated and were under the impression that quotas meant for them were being availed of by 'Pana' dalits, who were Christians.

This was another factor behind tribal anger, he said suggesting the state government expedite freeing of tribal land in possession of non-tribals, take up fake certificate cases and remain vigilant to conversion and re-conversion.

"Once the basic issues are addressed, the Kandhamal problem could be solved," he said.

Replying to a question, Justice Mohapatra said he had not blamed anybody for the violence in the interim report.

Sources, however, said the commission which was set up on September 3 last year could fix responsibility for the violence on any organisation or government body.

In the interim report, Justice Mohapatra had not blamed any religious body or the CPI (Maoist) which claimed responsibility for killing of VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati on August 23 last year.
Killing of Saraswati and four of his associates had triggered large-scale violence in Kandhamal which evoked condemnation from many quarters in the country and abroad.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Air India employees walk out of work for two hours

New Delhi/Mumbai: Notwithstanding a warning by Air India management, employees of the national carrier "walked out" of work for two hours this afternoon as part of their nationwide protest against delayed payment of salaries.

The protest, called by Aviation Industry Employees Guild (AIEG), Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) and some other unions, saw employees coming out of their offices in Delhi and Mumbai and stage demonstrations from one pm besides threatening to boycott their meetings with the management.

Around 300 employees, carrying red flags, assembled infront of the old terminal shouting slogans in Delhi against the management and demanding immediate payment of salaries.

"The government cannot defer the salary as per Payment of Wages Act. It must pay the salary by July ten. The compnay is not following rules and regulations and taking decisions which is not in the interests of employees," J B Kadiyan, General Secretary of ACEU, said.

In Mumbai, AIEG General Secretary, George Abraham, said, "We are staging a walk-out and demonstration for two hours as the management has failed to honour its commitment given to the unions to pay our June salaries by today."

There were no reports of disruption of AI services from the airport due to the protest.

The workers went ahead with their strike despite a Staff Notice issued earlier in the day by AI warning that "any participation in the illegal strike would be viewed seriously and appropriate action, including deduction of wages and withdrawal of Productivity-Linked Incentive till further orders, will be taken." .

Warning them of "firm" action if flights were disrupted and passengers inconvenienced, the staff notice said the agitation by the Joint Action Forum would violate the Industrial Disputes Act and "tantamount to illegal strike".

Thursday night, AI CMD Arvind Jadhav had written to the employees that besides wages and salary payments every month, fuel and bank liabilities like interest and principal payments, have to be paid on time.

However, the unions blamed the management of "going back on their word" to pay the salaries by Friday.

The unions had called off their proposed strike on June 30 after the management agreed to pay salaries of 70 per cent of workers by Friday. They were protesting the earlier decision of the management to defer the June salary by the middle of this month.

Kadiyan alleged that the company is being "damaged systematically by certain vested interests who want to sell Air India off. This we will never allow."

He also demanded a CBI enquiry into the Air India's plan to buy 68 aircraft for Rs 6,000 crore when its annual budget is Rs 7,000 crore.

"The total budget of Air India is Rs 7,000 crore and then why it decided to buy aircraft worth Rs 6,000 crore. Air India has plans to purchase 24 aircraft and Indian Airlines has plan to buy 43 aircraft. But later Air India changed its fleet plan and within 24 weeks firmed a plan to buy 68 aircraft," he said.



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I have done everything for all the states: Mamata


TimePublished on Fri, Jul 03, 2009 at 20:53, Updated on Fri, Jul 03, 2009 at 21:13 in Politics section

ON A MISSION: Mamata Banerjee says if she doesn't do anything for her state then she will lose face.

ON A MISSION: Mamata Banerjee says if she doesn


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    Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday presented a people-friendly Budget leaving passenger fares and freight charges unchanged. She also introduced over 50 new trains and new ticket schemes. In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN's National Affairs Editor Diptosh Majumdar, Mamata explained that she tried to please every part of the country.

    Diptosh Majumdar: Lalu Prasad has not liked your Budget. Do you think Bihar was getting pampered because of successive ministers from the state, and that you have changed that pattern?

    Mamata Banerjee (speaking in Hindi): No, no. We are like brother and sister. Every state we consider our neighbouring… sometimes one gets less and sometimes more. We balance it out. I like Bihar -- Laluji, Nitish Kumar, Sharad Yadav -- I love all of them.

    Diptosh Majumdar: What about the fact that you seem to be coming closer to the Gandhi family today? You remembered Rajiv Gandhi in your speech; you have given lot for Rai Bareli.

    Mamata Banerjee: I have not given anything. The leaders of the country cannot say give me this and that but you have to take care of all. I have given so many trains to Northeast--Prime Minister's constituency is there. For Pranab Mukherjee I gave Farakka-Delhi (train).


    There are some people who are working day and night for the country and you have to take care of them. It is not they will ask you… it's for you to decide.

    Diptosh Majumdar: How much is Prime Minister involved in your Budget making?

    Mamata Banerjee: All… without his blessing how can I do all this. I am very grateful and obliged to him.

    Diptosh Majumdar: What do you have to say to your critics who say West Bengal has benefited from you?

    Mamata Banerjee: I have 20 MPs. We are the first allies of this government. I have given all the seats to all the states. For 15 days I worked day and night up to morning 4 O' clock. I have done everything for all the states, wherever the opportunity is there.

    And after doing work for all states if I don't do anything for my state then I will lose face.

    I am very outspoken and I am very transparent. I said one project for my constituency.

    Diptosh Majumdar: More than 100 municipal elections are coming up in West Bengal. How many are you going to win? 90? That is what your people are saying.

    Mamata Banerjee: It will be a sweep, a complete sweep. Maa, maati, manush (will win). Two words are very common in this word: maa or mother, two maati or soil. My motherland--maati means motherland. Manush is human being.

    Diptosh Majumdar: How long will the Railway Minister remain a Minister in Delhi? Will she give two budgets or three?

    Mamata Banerjee: I cannot say all these things… there is no reply to ifs and buts--but I will continue to work for the people till I am alive.

     ET Now and Times Now to present live Budget09
    Times Audience Network, the online video arm of the Times Group, will be simulcasting the live budget feed for ET Now and Times Now on July 6. It
    will be a never-done-before event in the Indian electronic medium's history with TAN coming together with Microsoft, Facebook, Akamai and the television properties of the Times Group.

    Users will get live coverage of both ET Now and Times Now as well as on-demand videos, live news feeds, special updates and will also be able to interact with Facebook friends--all from a single show window. And with Facebook Connect and Live Stream Box, they will be able to take part in real-time conversations with their favourite TV anchors. The event will be hosted at

    "We're pleased to collaborate with the Times Group on their coverage of the national budget," said Meenal Balar, International Marketing Manager at Facebook. "As discussions in New Delhi get under way, we hope Indians will share their comments and opinions with their friends on Facebook."

    Sanjay Sinha, Director - Enterprise Evangelism, Microsoft India says, "Users will experience unique features such as on-demand videos, picture-in-picture feature to watch highlights while watching the live stream, powered by Silverlight." The event will be powered by Akamai, the global leader in live and on-demand streaming delivery. Sanjay Singh, MD, Akamai India, says they can "guarantee that viewers will get a flawless, high quality, live streaming experience."

    Sunil Rajshekhar, TIMES INTERNET LIMITED, President and COO, says, with the Live Budget show, we'll be bringing together the strengths of industry leaders in the content and technology space.The event is a continuation of our leadership and innovation in the online video space. It also marks the entry of ETNow onto TAN and will help expand our efforts in proliferating rich media consumption."
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    Riding the 'earning horse': Indian Railways

    Indian Railways is the world's largest employer and one of the biggest and busiest rail networks in the world, carrying some 17 million people and more than one million tonnes of freight daily. It was, however, until very recently, a loss-making organisation, which was heading for bankruptcy. Starting his term in 2004 with a budget of just $200 million with which to save the national institution, India's Minister of Railways Lalu Prasad engineered a dramatic turnaround. Last year, Indian Railways' revenue came to $6


    Indian Railways is one of INSEAD's biggest executive education clients, and the Minister visited the school's Asia campus as part of his tour of Singapore and Malaysia. During his visit to INSEAD, he told a gathering of MBA participants, alumni and executives about his strategy for bringing the rail network into the 21st century.

    Minister Lalu Prasad
    Minister Lalu Prasad

    Flouting prescriptions to privatise Indian Railways, retrench staff, and increase passenger and freight fares by 20 per cent in every budget, Prasad instead chose to keep on board 1.4 million employees and 1.1 million pensioners, reduced fares by up to 45 per cent, and - while refusing to privatise the core business of Indian Railways - started public-private partnerships in some peripheral areas.

    "We have broken the myth that whenever any government organisation runs into losses that you privatise it and retrench the manpower … My belief is that if we have honesty, vision and commitment to the organisation, there is no possibility of any institution and corporation running into losses."

    It's a strategy based on volume. While output has increased threefold, real operating costs have fallen over the last 25 years. By increasing the capacity of a typical long-distance train to 2000 passengers from 800, unit costs fell by 45 per cent. The practice of taking seven days to load or unload a freight train was reduced to five, and systematic changes have helped to rein in corruption. Garib rath trains, also known as the 'poor man's chariot', now have air-conditioning with cushioned seats and suction toilets.

    Bringing down freight fares has greatly benefited local industry, Prasad says. In a country where agriculture is the backbone of the economy, he says there is a huge role for Indian Railways in helping farmers directly connect with markets for their goods.

    "There are no markets in the places where production happens and middle men buy the agricultural produce at cheap prices. We are going to open agricultural centres at stations so farmers don't have to search for markets. Through joint ventures, we will set up cold storage and purchase points in stations, as well as freezer containers, so they can send agricultural produce around the country and beyond. We will charge farmers appropriate and reasonable prices. This will enrich farmers, and this increase in income will mean they can buy the things that everyone else is buying."

    Audience at Lalu Prasad presentation
    Audience at Indian Railways presentation

    With regard to private investment, Prasad says the turnaround has piqued interest in investing in the railways. While the private sector can play a role – in building engines and wheels, and world-class stations, for example – Prasad insists there is absolutely no chance of allowing privatisation of the core business, "rail, running of trains, [and] control of all the trains." Indian Railways' surplus earnings mean that the organisation does not have to depend on overseas development assistance from bodies such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency to expand. "JICA or no JICA - we are self-sufficient."

    In an exclusive interview with INSEAD Knowledge, Prasad said freight trains are Indian Railways' "earning horse," and he has extensive plans for expanding freight lines, increasing their efficiency, and capturing the 60 per cent of goods that are still transported by road. A third line – a dedicated freight corridor – is also being constructed to connect even the most remote areas with all ports and industrial hubs.

    Prasad is also keen to help in India's water conservation efforts, by building siphons and canals, and – on the wasteland on either side of the 64,000 kilometres of track – pipes with water for drinking and irrigation. He also outlined efforts to reduce fuel consumption by building train carriages from aluminium to reduce their weight. "With the increasing price of fuel, we have to keep an alternative in mind. Therefore, we are going to electrify the main routes in the entire country. The (proposed civil) nuclear deal  (with the US which would allow India to develop nuclear technology to meet its growing energy demands) – which should be reached – is also likely to help."

    With an eye to the future, Prasad says that as India's population continues to grow, there will be a need for more trains, more engines and wheels. "Even now, we buy wheels from abroad. We have only two factories, and are building a third. It's fine that these things come from abroad but we have the skills, unemployment, and youth." Prasad also recommends learning from another country with a "magnanimous population" – China. "China has gotten really far ahead. We will have to learn from them

    Sudhir Kumar
    Sudhir Kumar

    … Instead of jealousy, we should see what our neighbour is doing and copy that."

    Indian Railways' turnaround had required a fundamental shift in mindset. As Prasad's adviser, Sudhir Kumar, notes: "We are not in the business of railways; we are in the business of transportation – one of several modes of transportation, and the only way to survive and thrive in the marketplace is to offer superior and compelling value to your customers."

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    Friday, September 10, 2004
    Ministry of Railways

    Lalu Prasad rules out privatisation of Indian Railways


    15:12 IST
    The Union Minister of Railways, Shri Lalu Prasad has ruled out privatization of Indian Railways. Addressing a two-day Conference of General Managers of Zonal Railways, Production Units and Kolkata Metro here today, Shri Prasad said he would rather quit than allow privatization. In this connection, he mentioned that private sector would not meet the aspirations of people at large if Railways were privatized, as the cost of operation and services would increase manifold.

    The Railway Minister listed the priorities of the Government in the form of safety, security, punctuality and cleanliness of trains and locomotives and directed the General Managers to improve these areas lest punitive action should be taken against them. He asked General Managers that cleanliness in trains and locomotives be improved within a month. All the rollingstock should look pleasant to eyesight. Locomotives should also be made crew-friendly. He also asked General Managers to improve construction quality of Indian Railways. He said that General Managers should strive hard to ensure that public trust in the Railways must not be sapped and security, safety, punctuality and cleanliness of rail services were maintained to the satisfaction of the users.

    Talking of the UPA Government's resolve to make Indian Railways number one Railway in the world, the Minister said that in keeping with the Common Minimum Programme of the Government, the budgetary support to Railways has been increased by additional Rs.1137 crores over and above the already announced in the Railway Budget, 2004-2005 in the full Planning Commission meeting chaired by the Prime Minister yesterday. General Managers were directed to inspect all rail services personally including catering to ensure all-round improvement. He also asked the General Managers to sustain vigilance to plug leakages of revenues in the form of overweight of freight and parcel consignments and their under-charging, ticketless travelling, fraudulent salary and pension payments and inventory control to increase all round earnings of railways. He also asked them to achieve the passenger and freight targets for the current year. He was happy to note that the freight target during the first five months of the current financial year ending August, 2004 was in excess of the target. He also asked them to keep a watchful eye on inventory control to prevent leakages of revenues. Besides, he directed them to ensure that scrapped material were collected at one point in each Zonal Railway and recycled for production of wheels and other components in order to tackle high cost of steel.

    The Minister of State for Railways, Shri R. Velu, who also spoke on the occasion, asked the General Managers to ensure that at least two freight and parcel trains were checked by them personally in a month to plug leakages of revenues.

    The Minister of State for Railways, Shri Naranbhai J. Rathwa asked General Managers to give personal attention to the priority areas listed by the Government to ensure all-round improvement in rail services to the nation. Earlier, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri R.K. Singh, in his overview expressed the concern of the Government over massive leakages of revenues in the Railways and asked the General Managers to ensure that such mal-practices were minimized to the negligible levels.

    The Railway Minister also released a Book Titled 'THE KOLKATA METRO- Dum Dum-Tollygunge - Design & Construction'. The book deals with the difficulties encountered by Indian Railways engineers in the construction of 16.46 kilometre long Kolkata Metro and how it was an engineering marvel of India and for that pride of the country.

    The Railway Minister also gave away shields to various Zonal Railways for their outstanding performance in 2003-2004. These Shields were to be presented to General Managers of Zonal Railways on June 16, 2004 at Kolkata, but the programme was cancelled following a train accident on Konkan Railway. Comprehensive Healthcare Shield was given to Southern Railway, Civil Engineering Shield to Central Railway, Mechanical Engineering Shield to South Central Railway, Electrical Engineering Shield to Northern Railway, Signal & Telecommunication Engineering Shield to West Central Railway, Personnel Management Shield to Western Railway, Stores Shield to Eastern Railway, Security Shield to Eastern Railway, Traffic Transportation Shield to South Western and East Central Railways (Jointly), Accounts and Finance Management Shield to Western Railway, Safety Shield to North Central Railway, Commercial Shield to Northern Railway and Civil Engineering (Construction) Shield to Southern and Northeast Frontier Railway (Construction) (jointly).

    The Conference of General Managers has been convened to review railway plan performance for the current financial year and to work out measures for plugging leakages in revenues, as also generating indirect employment to thousands of people.


    Special Report -   Indian Railways

    From The Economist: December 6th 2003


    There's no such thing as free ride




    India's call centres, software firms and drugmakers are booming. But much of the rest of the country's economy remains mired in bureaucratic and ideological constraints.  To gauge the difficulties of putting India's economic reforms on track, consider its railways, once the vanguard of modernization.


    Unusually, India's Parliament hears two annual budget speeches. One, delivered by the minister of finance, goes over the normal boring stuff: health; defence; education; taxes; tariffs and so on. The other, delivered a couple of days earlier, covers the railways. The survival of this bizarre system, introduced by the British colonial government in 1924, tells you two things about India's railways: first, at a time when many railway systems around the world are being privatised, or at least run as independent corporations, India's remain an arm of government; second the system is both huge – by one estimate the world's largest commercial enterprise in terms of its employees-and enjoys a unique national importance.


                It also, however, shares many of the troubles that have afflicted other state-run railway networks in recent years. Most importantly, it does not make enough money to meet its investment needs. Its "operating ratio" – operating costs as a proportion of revenues – which had climbed close to 100% by the beginning of this century, has fallen to 92.5%. But that is still not enough to cover depreciation, maintenance and expansion.  Nor can the railways rely on indefinite government bail-outs at a time when India's overall fiscal deficit (at more than 10% of GDP) risks becoming unsustainable. Yet the railway system has been losing customers to an improving road network, making it hard to see how its finances will ever improve.


                On top of this, the railway system is under attack for its safety record.  Its own statistics belie the impression given by the frequent reports in Indian newspapers of an especially accident-prone  system.  Measured per millions of train-kilometres travelled, India has fewer rail accidents than Japan (055 as opposed to 0.65). But, according to its own white paper on safety produced this year, it suffers a far higher death rate than Japan (0.8 per billion passenger-kilometres, compared with 0.1).


                The railways' critics accuse it of making no distinction between unviable and commercial projects. On one estimate, 50% of its lines are under-used and 30% are over-used – primarily the main "high-density" inter-city corridors. These days, the most lavish "strategic" projects, such as a rail link to the Indian-controlled Kashmir valley that, it is hoped, might dampen separatist sentiment there, are paid for out of another government budget. But the railways are burdened, says a former senior railways executive, by a system which demands that the minister spread  his funds thinly in response to the pressure from members of Parliament and state assemblies. As a result, many projects get a "token allocation", but few are ever completed.


                Not all the criticism directed at the railway is fair. But, because they were an essential part of the attempt in the 1950s and 1960s to impose a planned socialist economy on India, their reform has also come to be seen as an essential part of that economy's dismantling. Since a wave of liberal, market-oriented measures in the early 1990s debate about how to reform the railways has intensified.


    A glorious past


    Earlier this year, India celebrated the 150th anniversary of its first train journey. On April 16th 1853, a locomotive pulling 14 carriages and 400 people left what was then Bombay to a 21-gun salute and trundled to Thane, 34 km (21 miles) away.  The journey took about 75 minutes.


                     From there, the network grew fast. Some of it was built by the British Raj, some by the princely states, such as Bikaner and Jodhpur, which retained their notional independence. Many of the network's main trunk routes were laid by private companies under schemes that would now be described as "build-operate-transfer". Passenger numbers increased from 24m in 1901 to 42m in 1917. By 1922, almost 60,000 km of track had been laid.  In a  controversy that would find echoes in contemporary India, the rail operators, which enjoyed a government-guaranteed minimum return, were suspected of exorbitant profit-gouging. IN 1924, the entire system – its construction, operation and financing – was brought under the control of the British Indian government.


                The shape of the network had been dictated mainly by the commercial, industrial and administrative requirements of the British empire, as well as by the vanity and convenience of individual maharajahs.  But it came to be credited with an important role in integrating not just the Indian economy, but also in helping to create the "nation" itself.


                Not everybody welcomed it.  In 1909, Mahatma Gandhi, hero of India's independence struggle, blamed the railways (along with lawyers and doctors) for impoverishing the country. Railways, he argued, spread famine because they  helped farmers to sell their grain to the dearest market.  They "accentuate the evil nature of man.  Bad men fulfil their designs with greater rapidity".


                Independent India, however, took to the railways with gusto. It lavished money on modernising a system that, at the time of independence in 1947, had only steam locomotives. Today, Indian Railways is the largest organisation in the country, both in number of employees – more than 1.5m- and in capital invested, some $10 billion.  It has 63,000 km of routes, 7,700 locomotives and nearly 7,000 stations. It carries 1.4 m tonnes of freight and 14m passengers every day -  equivalent to moving all of India more than four times a year.


                It is also a tottering tower of vertical integration: its units are engaged in designing, making and maintaining rolling stock; in building work; in running schools, hospitals, housing and hotels; and in catering, both for passengers and staff. Besides those it employs directly, Indian Railways issues licences to 36,000 uniformed porters and 11,000 authorised hawkers. Tens of thousands more-shoeshine boys, touts, scavengers, beggars and auto-rickshaw drivers – congregate around stations to make their unlicensed livings.


    Sorting out the subsidies


    Indian Railways is "one of the most studied institutions on the planet" according to a report published in 2001 by a government-appointed group chaired by Rakesh Mohan, an economist who is now deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the Central Bank. The Mohan report is a damning indictment of the way that Indian Railways is run, and a prolonged argument for "radical structural change".


                Many of its conclusions have since been endorsed by further reports from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. None goes the whole neo-liberal hog and promotes wholesale privatisation. All, however, agree that the railways should be run on commercial lines and that, if the government wants to subsidise services, then the subsidies should be transparent. 


                This simple conclusion has a number of far-reaching implications.  It means that Indian Railways should start divesting itself of "non-core" activities, such as catering and manufacturing; that its top management, a seven-member Railway Board, should shed its conflicting responsibilities as regulator, policymaker and boss; and that it should start producing intelligible accounts. Similarly, it should establish standard commercial criteria  for its investments.  But above all, it should stop using its freight customers to subsidise passenger fares.


                Many changes designed to meet these challenges are chugging along sedately.  But because of its history, its scale and its usefulness to so many political interests, Indian Railways presents a special challenge to reformers.  The roots of that challenge lie in an addiction to vote-catching subsidies, a fear of the power of organised labour, a deep suspicion of privatisation, and a reluctance to lose the power to dispense political patronage.


                "Trains cannot be run for charity", wrote Gandhi in 1947.  The Mahatma, by then clearly a convert to rail travel, was incensed that so many of his countrymen were fare-dodgers. Ever since, many Indians have taken cheap rail travel for granted.  And there are railway officials who support them.  One of them says "we perceive ourselves as being not a transport organisation, but part and parcel of the running of this country."


                The railway, he says, has to transport not just urban commuters and tourists, but also landless labourers in search of distant work and ascetic pilgrims on their way to the holy city of Haridwar.  At election time, it has to shift voting machines, politicians, officials, paramilitary guards and voters. The job extends to "the preservation of democracy itself".


                All well and good, say the railway's critics.  But why does the freight customer have to foot the bill? Passenger trains account for nearly two-thirds of railway services, but produce  just one-third of revenues. According to the railways' own figures, moving one passenger one kilometre made a loss of 15 paise ($0.003) last year.  Shifting a tonne of freight made a profit of 16 paise. As a result, the ratio of passenger fares per person-kilometre to freight rates per tonne-kilometre is among the lowest in the world: about 0.3, compared with 2.2 in Japan. China may be a more instructive comparison.  Between 1994 and 1998, it raised passenger fares by 75%, lifting the passenger fare to freight-tariff ratio from 0.9 to 1.2


    What logic demands


    Y.P. Anand,  a former chairman of India's Railway Board, argues that a move in that direction is logical in India, where passengers, by and large, are becoming more expensive, as they demand more space and comfort, while freight by contrast costs less, as improved technology leads to better and faster use of space.  One consequence of Indian Railways' present bias, according to a rough calculation by the World Bank, is that freight tariffs could be reduced by more than 40% if its social burdens were paid directly by the user or the government.  Manashi Roy of the Confederation of Indian Industry, a private-sector lobby in Delhi, says that for some users it has become cheaper to import coal and steel than to move it internally.


                Yet in his budget in February this year, as last year, Nitish Kumar, the minister of railways, announced that there would be no increase in passenger fares. He also refrained from an across-the-board increase in freight rates.  In practice, however, Indian Railways has been tinkering with the distortion in the tariff structure by simplifying categories and classes. It has managed a stealthy 14% rise in passenger fares over the past three years, against a mere 2% rise in freight charges. 


                The need for stealth is obvious. In his own budget speech, India's finance minister, Jaswant Singh, proposed a modest dent in the subsidies poured into both food and agriculture by announcing an increase in the price of fertiliser.  At once assailed by his foes as anti-farmer and his friends as anti-voter, Mr Singh was forced to retract and to leave the subsidy intact.


                Indian politicians are addicted to a tax-and-subsidy regime of  bewildering complexity, and deterred from tampering with it by a crowded  electoral timetable.  The Mohan report, for example, estimated that 15% of Indian railway passengers, many of them railway workers, were enjoying discounted fares. Among the 42 categories of people listed as eligible for concessions are students, boy scouts, the elderly, the very poor, war widows, nurses, journalists and some "persons taking part in mountaineering expeditions". Even some sorts of freight- fruit and vegetables and salt, for example – are subsidised.


                The tariff structure has, predictably, led to a loss in market share to the roads, oil pipelines and coastal shipping. The railways'80% share of the freight market in the 1950s has fallen by half and, some studies suggest, might fall to 25% as the roads improve further.  In particular, a so called "golden quadrilateral" project aimed at linking with four-lane highways the four big cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai (the last three are the Calcutta, Madras and Bombay of yore) poses a threat not just to freight volumes but, through high-speed buses, to passenger numbers as well.


                The railways say they are meeting the challenge.  Freight volumes grew 4.5%, to 515m tonnes, in the last financial year ending in March.  R.K. Singh, chairman of the Railway Board, boasts of an even better performance in the first half of this year, with an increase of 18 m tonnes.  Critics, however, say that the railways are not expanding nearly fast enough to meet the needs of an economy that is expected to grow by as much as 7% this year, a rate that optimists say can be sustained for years.


                The railways employ some 6% of the workforce in India's "organised" sector, and its managers are proud of their record of good industrial relations. This, say cynics, is not surprising. Their workers are civil servants, benefitting from the awards of government pay commissions. Indeed, Mr Anand, the former Railway Board chairman, blames the awards of the fifth such commission, for messing up the railways' finances. Mounting pension liabilities cause particular concern.  By 2002, the railways had 73 pensioners for every 100 employees, and pensions consumed nearly 15% of revenues.  Overall staff costs are more than 40% of gross traffic compared with about 15% in China, where the railways have shed non-core businesses.


                Indian Railways scores badly in most international productivity league tables. Again, its officials say improvement is under way. It aims to have reduced staff numbers to 1.2 m by 2010. That reduction, of a fifth, is the minimum the Mohan report thought necessary by 2008, and it is not clear how it will be achieved. Since 1994, the railways have been shedding staff through natural attrition at the rate of only about 2% a year.  This year, say officials, there will be no reduction in numbers, in order not to jeopardise safety standards. The workforce has been promised that reform will not entail  a single sacking.  It is important, says one manager, to keep the support of the staff.  "These workers can cripple the economy".


    Limited ambitions


    Fear of the workers' reaction is one reason why politicians and civil servants tread so gingerly around the issue of privatisation, not just in the railways but in other public sector operations as well. In September, for example, a petition from oil workers helped to win a ruling from the Supreme Court stalling the government's sale of two oil companies.  For the railways, ambitions are limited to "corporatising" non-core operations so they can become distinct profit centres, and the introduction of some private-sector minority participation.  A number of new projects are being undertaken by specially formed joint-ventures. ConCor, a container company in 1989, and since listed on the stockmarket, is something of a model.


                More recently, in 2001, the management of catering contracts was "hived off" to a subsidiary, IRCTC, which is showing what can be achieved when the railways' managers are set free.  Entrepreneurial staff at IRCTC decided that it should go into the business of selling tickets on the internet.  By this September it was selling 67,000 a month. This is trivial compared with the 500,000 reserved tickets that the railways sell every day, but it nevertheless makes IRCTC the biggest e-business in India.


                Stalk the long corridors of Rail House in Delhi and it is hard to believe that this is the headquarters of the organisation dissected by the Mohan report and others.  Whereas Mr. Mohan talked repeatedly of a "financial crisis" and the World Bank argued that the choice is between "significant change", and "financial and operational collapse", Mr. Singh, the Chairman, says the Mohan report is still "under scrutiny". But he rejects its call for a "high growth path", nor does he see the need for a separate regulator since "we are the only player in the field." In other words, Rail House is in the grip of what the Mohan report called "repairists", not "re-inventors".


                Some of the discrepancy between the two extreme views of Indian Railways is explained by the success of reforms introduced since the Mohan report, and the coming into effect of some that were initiated earlier.  Partly, it may be, as Mr. Anand argues, that the report fell into one of the traps it itself identified, and confused financial performance with operational efficiency.  The railways' intricate network of subsidies might be designed to obscure any link between the two.


                But much of the disagreement is between economists looking at the railways as a business, and dedicated civil servants looking at what they still see as a public utility and social service.  As one senior railway official, who believes he works for "a healthy, growing railway", puts it, "if you moved to a business model, Indian Railways would collapse." As with so much of the Indian public sector, re-invention will be late in arriving.


    Rakesh Mohan Committee Report on Indian Railways - A Flawed Approach


       The report of the Expert Group (Rakesh Mohan Committee) is a subject matter of much debate among the Railway personnel. Corporatisation/Privatisation is the buzzword of this Report. Is Corporatisation of the Indian Railways the only solution to the ills being faced by the railway organisation today? The Expert Group does not seem to be sure itself when it says, ". ..there could be other approaches".

       Though the Committee has drawn the conclusions - which the reading of the report indicates are mostly inconclusive - by looking at other railway systems around the world particularly those of Japan, Germany, France, Britain, and Sweden, they still feel and rightly so "that our solution has to be our own". Then, why suggest a solution of which the Expert Group itself is not sure knowing well that tampering with a system as huge and sensitive as Indian Railways without being confident of the approach of so-called 're-invention' is bound to play havoc not only with the system but also with society and the nation at large for which the Railways playa crucial role.

       The confusion in the minds of the Expert Group is perhaps because of the difficult nature of the task entrusted to them. The chairman of Expert Group Shri Rakesh Mohan is honest enough to admit in his forwarding letter while submitting the Report to Minister for Railways that "Indian Railways is a large and extremely complex organisation. is not easy for outside experts to grasp the many complexities that govern the operations of this massive enterprise". Unfortunately, the complexities have not been grasped fully by the Expert Group in spite of the presence of a few retired or soon-to-retire Railway officers in this group composed of 18 experts majority of whom are outsiders and thus non-experts. How can bankers, management consultants, or a representative of an international vendor of locomotives or the head of a little known IT company have the necessary expertise to suggest ways to take the Indian Railways out of the financial morass they are in?

       Whether the Railways should be managed by the State or by private companies or a mix of both was the question looked at by an expert committee as far back as 1920.The committee was headed by William Acworth who was a world-renowned authority on Railways. The Acworth Committee consisted of ten members, all experts either in Railway matters or finance and administration. The Committee supported the case for State management of Indian Railways in their report published in September,1921. Landmark decision about separation of Railway Finances from General Finances was also the outcome of this report. The report was accepted in 1924.

       It is not our case that what was suitable in 1924 continues to remain suitable for all times to come and one should not review matters in the light of new developments. There is certainly a need to inject some life-saving measures in the system that is so vital for not only national economy but also for security and unity of the country .Is corporatisation the answer? Maybe, if economy is the sole consideration, then economists may well be the right persons to explore the remedy. That is, however, not the only purpose railways are required to serve in this country .They are integral to the unity and security of the nation. Therefore the observation of the Acworth Committee that "if there is one thing the Railway history teaches, it is that Centripetal forces are stronger than Centrifugal forces" remains valid even to-day. The dual nature of the system - a commercial organisation and a public utility service - has caused distortions in the financial management of the Railways. It is possible though to integrate both without causing financial loss to the enterprise and without Corporatisation of Railway administration.

       The prescription given by the Committee for curing financial ailment is not even original or the result of any fresh mental application or grasp of the basic problems. World Bank has been suggesting this remedy whenever the Indian Railways approached them for financing of any project in early 1990's. The conditionalities for grant of funds recommended by the World Bank teams have always been: "corporatise its administration, privatize its various ofiline activities as also its captive production units and downsize its numbers." Similar recommendations and concerns were expressed by a Committee in 1997, which, was financed by the Bank to study "organizational structure and management ethos of the Railways. " As a result of all these suggestions some initiatives were taken to spin off some of the non-core activities like catering by setting up a separate corporation. That, there is a legitimate scope for privatization in some of the non-core activities of the Railways cannot be denied.

       What exactly ails the Indian Railways? Why has it arrived at this critical period in its financial health? Before looking at this question, let us not forget that the financial health of the Indian Railways is linked to the national economy and vice versa. There are periods of ups and downs in every business including railway business. After State assumed full control in 1924-25,railway development passed through three-phases - exceptional prosperity up to 1930; unparalleled depression and then the phase of the Second World War. The Indian Railways were in such a bad shape in 1930's that moratorium on interest payments had to be declared. At the end of the World War, they were under real strain. They had had no time to recover from the effects of war when country's partition took place.

       The regrouping and nationalization of Indian Railways was complete with the integration of Indian princely states and addition of another 7,560 miles to Indian State railway system by the time India became a Republic. All this was possible because of professional approach by the Railway Board and the recommendations of Kunzru Committee in the background canvas of an understanding political leadership. The problems of rehabilitation and replacement carried over from the Depression of 1930's which had remained neglected during the Second World War and the consequent problems of strained railway resources that had got further accentuated in the wake of partition became the immediate concern of the Railway planners.

       In the First Five Year Plan, the special emphasis was on rehabilitation and replacement. The focus of next two plans was to build up adequate transport capacity so as to meet additional traffic requirements. Fourth Five Year plan renewed emphasis on modernization of railways and improvement of operational efficiency. During all these years, Indian Railways were on the right track. It is, therefore, not correct to say as the report says that " the planning system used by IR is one of the most powerful mechanisms ever designed by mankind to avoid change and embed (sic) the status quo." This is grossly unfair to the visionary planners who were responsible for the remarkable turn-around of IR in the 80's as well as in some other periods of IR's glorious history. It is for nothing that the late Shri Madhav Rao Scindia's period is known as the golden period of Indian Railways. Modernization of Indian Railways with Computerization of Passenger Reservation System (PRS); fast inter-city trains and quality of service did wonders for Railway finances as well as for the morale of the Railway men.

       Unfortunately, thereafter the decline started again. As the 'Expert Group' has also realized, 90's were a bad decade for IR. Arbitrary announcement of projects which flouted even the basic procedures of scrutiny were the order of the day. The profligacy in selection of projects was obvious when earlier planning on the basis of 5% growth in freight traffic was altogether shelved and instead the scarce resources were diverted to populist and unproductive schemes like gauge conversions; laying of unremunerative lines; creation of new railway zones etc to suit the political ends of the Railway Minister of the day.

       The rot that had set in during the period indicated in the preceding paragraph was so extensive and grave that in the White Paper presented to Parliament in '98, the Railway Minister (Shri Nitish Kumar), listed the number of unviable projects which required a wobbling Rs 30000 Crores to get completed. Today, the funds required for the pending projects are nearing the figure of Rs 40000 Crores, two-thirds ofwhich is for unviable projects.

       Thus while the scarce resources were sunk in unremunerative projects, the budgetary support was reduced and the share of IR in the Plan Outlay was drastically cut. Added to this were the rising staff and fuel costs. The situation has come to such a pass that for earning every rupee, IR is spending 99p. Where is the money left, then, for investment on replacements, renewals, modernization and capacity expansion ? The financial crisis is, therefore, very real and staring us in the face. The nature of the ailment would be rather obvious to any aware citizen or intelligent layman. It did not require an Expert Group to identify this. What, then, is the remedy? How to bring about a turn-around? That should be the immediate concern of the nation.

       Raise resources, cut down costs. That is, however, possible if  IR is given the freedom to raise or reduce fare and freight depending on the pull of market forces. The Expert Group thinks that can be possible only when IR is converted into a Corporation. There will be greater freedom in pricing and Government control will be minimized. This is a fallacious argument. Are the Corporations free from Government control or political interference? Even the Navratna companies are not free from such control or interference. Since public interest cannot be separated from a utility like railways, government control cannot be faulted.

       The Expert Group need not have to look around the world to know that. Even the global experience, they are referring to has not been updated by the developments after privatization. Take the case of RailTrack in U.K which has been an utter disaster after privatization so much so that the first step towards renationalization was taken by the U.K Government on October 7 this year when they placed RailTrack under the control of Govt-appointed administrators by obtaining an order from British High Court. The Company was indeed so badly run that it failed in its basic job of moving passengers from A to B. Delays and accidents became frequent because RailTrack kept profits before safety. The horrific accident at Paddington in 1999 and derailment at Hatfield last year convinced the Government that this arrangement had to go. It was an eye-opening major corporate collapse. Even the British Prime Minister said at the Labour Party Conference on 2nd October, that rail privatization was a disaster. It was due to the inherent contradiction between the goal of a company that was to maximise profit and the nature of the business from which public interest cannot be separated. The functioning of privatized RailTrack was termed as 'monumental incompetence'. The fact that the privatized company had to go to Government with begging bowl for subsidy to pay dividend to its Shareholders clearly and abundantly proved that it made no commercial sense to privatize British Rail. It is, therefore, ironical that the Expert Group is proposing for IR from the experience of U.K among others what they disposing off on the basis of their experience post-privatisation. The post-privatisation experience of other countries like Japan is also none too happy.

       As for the World Bank formula on Corporatisation/privatization by which the Expert Group is obviously much influenced, one has only to quote Joseph Stiglitz, one time economist of the World Bank and now a Nobel Prize winner in economics. In his very recent interview to the ' Observer' of London (dated October 10), he stated that the World Bank prescribes exactly the same 4-point programme for all nations and ends up destroying their economies. Privatization, which. Stiglitz calls 'Briberization' is one of these. The criticism may sound too harsh but is certainly not without basis.

       Thus the solution to IR ills as suggested by the Expert Group is a borrowed one and stands largely discarded because of bitter experience with privatization in this sector. The Expert Group, it seems, could not think of any solution relevant to "socio-economic realities" of India and has gone by what has already been handed out or adopted for the sectors like the Telecom Sector with a Corporation and a regulatory authority (TRAI) in place. There too the functioning of the sector and the role of regulatory authority has not inspired much confidence. The Expert Group accepts that the arrangements put in place in Telecom Sector in India is also "in some process of flux". Then, why recommend such an arrangement for the Railways?

       Another thought that has gone into this recommendation is the inability of the Central exchequer to meet with the requirement of funds for IR in view of its own none-too-happy fiscal condition where the abnormal increases in its non-plan expenditure has left it with limited funds to spare for IR. The Expert Group assumes that after conversion into a corporation, IR would be able to raise resources from the public. Is this not too facile an assumption, if not altogether unrealistic? Railway business can never be that profitable so as to attract investors with large portfolios for investment. Thus the amount of money required for what the Group calls 'strategic high growth scenario' to the tune of Rs 199,630 crores cannot come by from external sources. Borrowing from external sources would mean placing heavy debt burden on the system that it may not be able to meet in spite of the ambitious scenario envisioned by the Group. The Expert Group itself concedes that governmental support is absolutely necessary during the initial phase of restructuring which would require an estimated expenditure of 70,000 crores for the first five years of the High Growth Scenario. The share of GOI has been recommended to be 40% as preference capital to be serviced at 1 %. This 40% comes to be Rs 28,000 crores. From where GOI with its own ailing fInances will provide this staggering sum? Such a recommendation, once again clearly demonstrates the casual and unrealistic nature of the whole exercise.

       The theme goes on like this: Central exchequer cannot help the Railways because of its own bad fiscal condition but it should help the IR in the initiaJ year of its 're-invention' as a corporate body. As if Indian Railways re-christened into Indian Railways Corporation with the Railway Board revamped as the Indian Railway Executive Board and a Rail Regulatory Authority in place will work as Aladdin's lamp to pave the way to a cave full of gold! The institutional separation of roles mechanism is flawed in its very nature. The Expert Group itself is doubtful of the credibility of the model suggested by them. That is why, on the one hand they are suggesting a model drawn from 'global experience' and on the other hand they themselves reject those compulsions, which drove Europe to privatization not being applicable to this country. In the face of doubts, contradictions and uncertainties expressed in the Report, are the' conservatives' not genuinely alarmed that the Indian Railways are simply too important to be experimented with. Billions of passengers, 1.5 million employees and 40% of the nation's freight cannot be made guinea pigs.

       What the Indian Railways, therefore, require is 'Repairing' rather than 'Reinventing'. When the sickness is diagnosed properly, then the right cure would also be available. While IR may have no control over staff costs, some areas can still be identified for pruning the expenditure on establishment. For example, why have so many Recruitment Boards when one Railway Staff Commission on the pattern of Staff Selection Commission would suffice .In the light of modernisation and computersation, a large number of posts must have become redundant. Some of the non-core activities like sanitation, catering, Yatri Niwases etc can be privatized. The Expert Group has included in the list identified by them of non-core activities railway hospitals, research and production units and security too .If the railway employees do not have their hospitals, where do they go for medical facilities. The pressure on the inadequate medical infrastructure in the country will go up. Similarly, security is one item, which cannot at all be shunted out in the present day world of terrorism. After September 11 , many of the world' s airlines had to greatly tighten their security . Other modes of transport are also attractive targets for terrorists. As we are all well aware, trains in India have already been targets of many blasts. How can in such a scenario of insecurity Indian Railways can spin off their security concerns to private players? As regards production units, these can be corporatised but then the Indian Railways remain the sole buyers of Rolling Stock from these units with its own attendant problems in such an arrangement.

       Indian Railways are passing through a bad phase. The Government should realize it and bring it back to health. Rationalizing fares and freight; scrapping of unviable projects; support of funds for accelerated completion of remunerative projects and catching up with renewal and replacement work would nurse IR back to health. Indian Railways also require a new vision - not the one recommended by the Expert Group (it is a blurred one). In the post-September 11 world, airline travel has become highly unsafe, inconvenient and costlier. Here is an opportunity for IR to capture the Upper Class travellers by providing faster, comfortable and safe travel. Look at AMTRAK of U.S.A post-September 11. A new challenge has been thrown upon it and it is carrying more passengers than it ever could think of. The future of IR lies in passenger traffic and that too the long distance one. It is high time that a roadmap for meeting this requirement is drawn up. It is in this area that the Indian Railways have to 're-invent' themselves. Suggesting corporatization for Indian Railways, so vital to the unity and integrity of the nation is somewhat like suggesting corporatizing the defence forces of the country because running the IR network requires similar kind of discipline and commitment. !


    Mrs Aarti Khosla,

    IRAS (retired)

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    Business Standard - ‎5 hours ago‎
    PTI / Mumbai July 03, 2009, 18:25 IST Shares of companies related to the rail sector today plunged around five per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange as the ...

    Rs 25 monthly season ticket for unorganised sector workers

    Times of India - ‎8 hours ago‎
    I therefore wish to present the gift of travel with dignity to even the poorest of the poor," she said while presenting the Railway Budget 2009-10 in the ...

    ANALYSIS - Ailing national carrier Air India may test India's ...

    Reuters India - Matthias Williams - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
    ... attempting a partial privatisation through an IPO, or letting the airline founder. Air India's plight could indicate how far Singh will reform India's ...

    Union Budget should focus on raising non-tax revenue: CLSA - ‎11 hours ago‎
    " India is on track for investment-led upturn next year" Whelan added that the budget deficit was likely to fall to 7.9% in FY10 and 4.8% in FY11. ...

    Left Front criticises privatisation thrust in railway budget - ‎3 hours ago‎
    ... is signalling a growth of privatisation in the Indian railways, I think it would not be very good for our future." Senior Communist Party of India (CPI) ...

    Rural health tops Azad's 100-day plan

    Chandigarh Tribune - Aditi Tandon - ‎21 hours ago‎
    He was, however, silent on mass privatisation of the sector, which remains deregulated, and on his budget aspirations, despite India's poor one to two per ...

    Sibal's ideas aimed at privatisation of education: Left Front

    Hindu - ‎Jun 25, 2009‎
    "Most of the measures the minister has spoken of will only lead to total privatisation of education. This will take education beyond the reach of students ...

    UP to private 24 sugar mills by October

    Reuters India - Abhishek ShankerRajendra Jadhav - ‎Jun 29, 2009‎
    By Abhishek Shanker & Rajendra Jadhav MUMBAI (Reuters) - Uttar Pradesh is planning to privatise 4 economically unviable sugar mills before the new crushing ...

    Marketing privatisation

    Frontline - Venkatesh Athreya - ‎Jun 30, 2009‎
    In the first of his two chapters on the privatisation experience in India, the author quotes at length from various policy documents to trace the evolution ...

    Banking sector consolidation revisited

    Hindu - Rv Moorthy - ‎Jun 28, 2009‎
    Privatisation of banks is a discredited idea the world over at the current juncture. The possibility of some foreign buyer acquiring an Indian bank is ...

    Govt rules out bus fare cut, privatisation of transport corpns

    Times of India - ‎Jun 24, 2009‎
    However, the STUs would never be privatised, whatever the losses they incurred and they would continue to function as government undertakings, the minister ...

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    1. Disinvestment of India

      Disinvestment involves the sale of equity and bond capital invested by the government in PSUs. It also implies the sale of government's loan capital in PSUs ... - Cached - Similar -
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      Reuters India
      Coal unions oppose disinvestment of CIL‎ - 1 day ago
      "We express our strong resentment at the proposal of the government of India to disinvest the shareholding of Coal India in the share market," Centre of ...
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      Coal unions oppose disinvestment of CIL

      Hindu - ‎Jul 2, 2009‎
      "We express our strong resentment at the proposal of the government of India to disinvest the shareholding of Coal India in the share market," Centre of ...
      Most Read Articles Indian Express

      Selloff target set at Rs 25k cr

      Times of India - ‎20 hours ago‎
      In a suggestion that could breathe new life into disinvestment, the Economic Survey set an annual mop-up target of Rs 25000 crore and suggested the ...

      restructuring can save AI

      Express Buzz - ‎Jun 29, 2009‎
      Four options were examined:- In the first option was there would be no financial support by the government and no disinvestment. Air India's financial ...

      India to grow at about 7% this fiscal: Ashok Chawla - ‎Jul 2, 2009‎
      Ashok Chawla, Finance Secretary expects India growth to be close to 7%. "We cannot predict with full certainty what that number will be," he said. ...

      Fiscal deficit not as high as other countries: Montek Singh - ‎13 hours ago‎
      He hoped India would soon have a medium-term program for disinvestment. But was quick to add that government equity will remain at 51%. ...

      Govt examining economic condition for SCI disinvestment

      Hindu - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      New Delhi (PTI): The government is examining the economic climate for divesting its stake in state-run Shipping Corporation of India (SCI). ...

      Budget: Time for govt to walk the talk, says India Inc - ‎1 hour ago‎
      Disinvestment and such other things could help in the short-term but growth orientation is what we need. So I do hope the budget will be growth oriented. ...

      India Expects $386.6 Million From NHPC, Oil India Share Sales

      Bloomberg - Kartik Goyal - ‎11 hours ago‎
      The government has also approved the disinvestment of two other companies, Tyre Corporation of India Ltd. and Central Inland Water Transport Corporation ...

      How Individuals Could Help India's Infrastructure

      Wall Street Journal - Sudip Bandyopadhyay - ‎13 hours ago‎
      Disinvestment of a stake of 10% or 20% in these companies doesn't in any manner alter the nature of these companies, ie they continue to remain public ...

      Rail-related stocks plunge after Budget announcement

      Hindu - ‎2 hours ago‎
      Basically, the Railway Budget is good for companies related to this sector and the stocks are likely to regain momentum in the coming days," Geojit BNP ...

      Nifty near day's high after railway budget

      Economic Times - ‎8 hours ago‎
      Railway minister Mamata Banerjee presented her populist railway budget for FY09-10. Shares of wagon makers were witnessing profit-booking after a recent ...

      Railway budget has brought cheers to Jharkhand

      Economic Times - ‎2 hours ago‎
      RANCHI: The railway budget has brought cheers to the mineral-rich state of Jharkhand, especially in the wake of announcement of Eastern Dedicated Freight ...

      Rail Budget fails to enthuse sector related stocks

      Business Standard - ‎5 hours ago‎
      Earlier while presenting the rail budget, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee announced schemes for developing 50 stations as world class stations, ...

      Gujarat waits for 'bad M' Mamata to turn good in rail budget

      Daily News & Analysis - Kapil Dave - ‎14 hours ago‎
      ... turns out to be a good or bad 'M' for the state as she presents her maiden railway budget on Friday in her second stint as a railway minister. ...
      Didi, load Guj with bullet train! Daily News & Analysis

      Budget hopes boost Sensex

      Business Standard - ‎7 hours ago‎
      The Economic Survey and the Railway Budget have been mostly positive, hence market players are now optimistic over the forthcoming Budget. ...

      Forward looking Railway Budget: CII North

      Business Standard - ‎4 hours ago‎
      CII (Northern Region) today hailed Railway Budget's focus on improving infrastructure and passenger services and said that development of important stations ...

      Haryana CM hails Rail Budget; says it's for common man

      Business Standard - ‎5 hours ago‎
      PTI / Chandigarh July 03, 2009, 18:47 IST Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda today hailed the Railway Budget 2009-10 presented by the Union ...

      Rail budget: bunch of promises for Maha ahead of Assembly polls

      Sakaal Times - ‎2 hours ago‎
      In the Railway Budget for the year 2009-10, she also cleared the proposal for a new line between Pune-Nashik – which would ultimately form the Golden ...

      Lalgarh to be on rail map

      Hindu - ‎3 hours ago‎
      New Delhi(PTI) Impoverished Lalgarh, in the news for Maoist violence and security forces' operations against the Left ultras, will be on railway map, ...

      Mamata calls for disturbed' tag on Lalgarh

      Times of India - ‎Jun 29, 2009‎
      KOLKATA: Mamata Banerjee has called upon the Centre to call an emergency meeting to review the Lalgarh situation and declare the area "disturbed". ...

      Liberhan report, Lalgarh set to come up in Parliament

      Times of India - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      While the report will see non-BJP parties closing ranks, the main Opposition may try and take up the operation against Maoists in Lalgarh which will see UPA ...

      Bengal banks on Lalgarh to salvage investor-friendly face

      Business Standard - Ishita Ayan Dutt - ‎4 hours ago‎
      The Maoists have been flushed out of Lalgarh in the West Medinipur district of West Bengal just three days ago, and West Bengal Commerce and Industry ...

      Lalgarh shock for govt staff

      Times of India - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      LALGARH/PIRAKATA: Stacks of rice bags piled up in block offices, yet out of reach of many villagers. Senior government officers learnt it the hard way after ...

      Buddha gives food for thought to Lalgarh locals

      Indian Express - ‎21 hours ago‎
      Policemen arrest Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee and other Youth Congress activists as they protest against the government on the Lalgarh issue, ...

      West Bengal assembly faces uproar over Medha Patkar arrest

      Economic Times - ‎1 hour ago‎
      "How can the government arrest her at Debra which is about 80 kilometre from Lalgarh," asked Chatterjee. He also demanded immediate release of the rights ...

      No Lalgarh in red China

      Times of India - Tarun Vijay - ‎Jul 2, 2009‎
      The Chinese are patriotic people. They don't allow any Lalgarhs to emerge with Maoists of some sort championing the cause of the poor by killing security ...

      Centre sends 600 more security personnel to Lalgarh

      Times of India - ‎Jun 25, 2009‎
      25 Jun 2009, 1910 hrs IST, PTI NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday sent an additional 600 security personnel to Lalgarh area of West Bengal as part of its ...

      High Court stays canal work of Narmada dams

      Hindu - ‎20 hours ago‎
      ... taken by the State authorities and today's order of the Jabalpur High Court has proved it by staying it," said Medha Patkar, senior activist of the NBA. ...

      Alva vows to fight off Hanakon project from Karwar

      Times of India - ‎Jun 29, 2009‎
      She assured the people that she would invite noted environmentalist, Medha Patkar, to intensify the agitation. She threatened to fight in the way Mamata ...

      The Poverty of Philosophy

      HardNews Magazine - Amit Sengupta - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      So why did that belligerent CPM leader threaten that women will show their 'backsides' to Medha Patkar during the Nandigram massacre? ...

      On a new mission

      Deccan Herald - Nina C George - ‎Jun 9, 2009‎
      ... his life hasn't changed owing to his fan following. He says he's too has been a fan of many people including Mayawati, Medha Patkar and Rajkumar.

      Stories of triumphant women

      The Daily Star - Jamil Mahmud - ‎Jun 19, 2009‎
      In contemporary India, the valour of Medha Patekar, Shah Banu and Malati Mudi has made them symbols of freedom. Medha Patekar, a research worker and social ...

      Move against SC against violation of law relating to protection of ...

      SahilOnline - ‎Jun 28, 2009‎
      Alva may also lead an agitation against the project along with Medha Patkar if the letter of clearance given to the project is no withdrawn, he warned. ...

      Modi comes to Delhi

      HardNews Magazine - ‎Jun 12, 2009‎
      Spearheading the fight for those who have been affected by the project is Medha Patkar and the Narmada Bachao Samiti. Author and columnist Arundhati Roy, ...

      Outcome of General Election 2009

      Mainstream - ‎Jun 13, 2009‎
      Mamata Banerjee and others like Medha Patkar were able to successfully mobilise people's agitations against the State and party coercion which forced the ...

      CPI(M) should draw a lesson and quit: Mamata

      Hindu - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      "The CPI(M) should draw a lesson from this verdict and step down from power. Despite their terror, the people have once again supported us within one and ...
      Red-faced Himal Southasian

      CPI(M) raps Rajasthan govt. for 'failing' to provide water, power

      Hindu - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      Jaipur (PTI) The Rajasthan unit of the CPI(M) on Wednesday hit out at the Congress-led state government for "failing" to provide adequate drinking and ...

      CPI-M routed at ballot box

      The Statesman - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      After a 20-year monopoly of the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad, held since the rural body came to existence in 1988, the CPI-M has suffered a major setback in ...

      CPI (M): UN must intervene in Honduras

      Hindu - ‎Jun 30, 2009‎
      NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday condemned the coup against the elected President of Honduras. In a statement, the Polit Bureau ...

      20 detained protesting in front of CPI(M) headquarters

      Hindu - ‎Jun 30, 2009‎
      New Delhi (PTI) Around 20 people were on Tuesday detained while they were demonstrating in front of the CPI(M) headquarters here to protest alleged ...

      CPIM Himachal terms Economic Survey as inimical to national interest

      HimVani - ‎8 hours ago‎
      The CPIM has stated, though the ES brings out the adverse impact of the global economic crisis. It admits the overall growth rate has fallen to 6.7% in ...

      CPM routed in SMP polls

      The Statesman - ‎21 hours ago‎
      SILIGURI, 2 JULY: The full extent of the CPI-M's routing in the 28 June Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad polls is now clear, with the results of all the three ...

      West Bengal CPIM places its mite behind Buddhadeb

      Economic Times - ‎Jun 29, 2009‎
      KOLKATA: West Bengal CPIM has placed its mite behind chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, but not all partners of the ruling coalition. ...

      Winds of change sweep away Left in West Bengal polls

      Times of India - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      KOLKATA: The anti-Left wave that first swamped the southern Bengal districts in the 2008 panchayat elections and then turned into a storm in the Lok Sabha ...

      Misery caused by cyclone Aila still persists in West Bengal

      Hindu - ‎Jul 1, 2009‎
      Choto Shehara (PTI): The misery caused by Cyclone Aila in the two 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal, the hardest hit in the state, is still evident today ...

      Jai Balaji to set up steel plant in West Bengal

      Economic Times - ‎Jul 2, 2009‎
      KOLKATA: Jai Balaji Industries, which is setting up a 5 million tonne (mt) steel plant in West Bengal's Purulia district, has decided to raise Rs 450 crore ...

      Maoists set off blasts in Lalgarh

      Hindu - Raktima Bose - ‎20 hours ago‎
      The incident took place on the 15th day of the joint operation by the Central paramilitary forces and the West Bengal police against Maoists and activists ...
      FIRE AND FOREBODING Calcutta Telegraph

      25 years on, Bengal duo to present Budget

      Times of India - ‎19 hours ago‎
      KOLKATA: A quarter of a century later, two mps from West Bengal will once again place budgets on the floor of Parliament this session. ...

      Bengal banks on Lalgarh to salvage investor-friendly face

      Business Standard - Ishita Ayan Dutt - ‎4 hours ago‎
      The Maoists have been flushed out of Lalgarh in the West Medinipur district of West Bengal just three days ago, and West Bengal Commerce and Industry ...

      West Bengal power firm plans Rs.5000 crore investments

      Sify - ‎Jul 2, 2009‎
      State-owned West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) is planning to raise Rs.5000 crore in the next three years to fund rural ...

      Forces recapture Maoist stronghold in Bengal

      Economic Times - ‎Jun 29, 2009‎
      KOLKATA: On a day when central forces along with state armed police personnel recaptured Katapahari, a Maoist stronghold, West Bengal chief minister ...

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        Indian Rail to Add More Wagons, Coaches to Upgrade‎ - 8 hours ago
        By Vipin V. Nair and Gaurav Singh July 3 (Bloomberg) -- Indian Railways, Asia's oldest rail network, will buy new wagons and build more coaches to upgrade ...
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        Railway Budget 2009-10: Mamata focuses on passenger amenities‎ - 9 hours ago
        NEW DELHI: Presenting the Railway Budget for 2009-10 in Parliament today, Minister of Railways Mamata Banerjee announced that there will be no increase in ...
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        1. How important is privatisation in India?

          21 Mar 2007 ... How important is privatisation in India? The first order issue is that of competition policy. When the government hinders competition by ...
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          Disinvestment and Privatisation in India

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          Railway Budget: Is Bihar feeling left out?

          NDTV talks to the people of Bihar about what they expect from Mamata Banerjee as the Railway Minister.

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          Mamata has done a very competent job: PM
          Reacting on Mamata Banerjee's pro-people rail budget, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Railway Minister has done a very competent job in a short time.


          <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
          Rly Budget: Focus is on passengers, say analysts
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          Devangshu Datta, Consultant Editor, Outlook speaks to NDTV about the Railway Budget presented by Mamata Banerjee.
          <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
          FICCI on Economic Survey
          Welcoming the Economic Survey, FICCI president Harshpati Singhania said that the government is making a case for reforms.
          <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>


          What the Maximum City hopes to get from the rail budget
          NDTV talks to people of Mumbai about their wishlist ahead of the presentation of the rail budget.
          <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
          Railway Budget 2009: Mumbai passengers' expectations
          Mumbai rail passengers express their wish list as Railway minister Mamata Banerjee prepares to present the interim Rail Budget 2009 today
          <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
          Lesser importance to Bihar in Railway Budget?
          <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

          Mixed reactions on Mamata's Railway budget Part 1

          Passengers and other analysts have brought out mixed reactions on the rail budget presented by Railway Minister Mamata Bannerjee
          <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
          Mixed reactions on Mamatas Railway budget Part
          Passengers and other analysts have brought out mixed reactions on the rail budget presented by Railway Minister Mamta Bannerjee.
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