Blog | “….but for now, I think this (railway budget) is right.”

sadananda gowda

First of all, the Railway Budget was delivered in English. What ever happened to the Hindi, first policy? Sure it must have had many people dissapointed… no wonder Rahul Gandhi was caught napping. What else would he ever have understood to oppose? Guess who just might trend on Twitter tonight?

However, surprised as I am I must admit, the budget was vaguely a nice one. Mr. Gowda (clean record, lawyer) deserves congratulations for laying more emphasis on completing the pending, rather than announcing new gifts. Mr. Modi’s awaited gospel still needs to go under the scanner, however, Mr. Gowda’s version was a pleasant surprise, despite the lack of populist reforms or concrete deadlines.

It was pleasing to see the corporate world unhappy – I usually treat that as a good sign for the people. However, a detailed hearing of the speech proved just what it unlikey seemed to be like – good! Gowda did not just go back to the basics when announcing attention to things unknown to earlier ministers, like cleanliness (plans to enterr into PPP for maintenance of stations), lower staff (plans for technical training in phases), basic infrastructure (FDI and PPP! Woohoo!) and so on. Even external stakeholders have been included – students can now intern with railways, which will even create jobs later. 40k female CRPF to be recruited and deployed for female coaches!

He even announced the strengthening of the complaint and catering (and complaint system in catering); provision of return freight and revenue for freight trains for their otherwise frieghtless and useless return trips; and the out-of-the-blue wifi provisions on stations and select trains! And just when I thought he’d leave out technological improvements, there he was – improvement at digitisation of the system but at the office-level first. Makes sense, given that you need the system to develop from the roots first to sustain the consumer-end of digitisation.

New trains were announced – even though they weren’t the highlight of the budgets as in the earlier budget presentations, just like he had mentioned at the beginning of the speech. However, it was nice to see that despite the numerous requests for numerous trains to be introduced, Mr. Gowda had waved the green flag for the ones in “urgent” and “economically justifiable” routes. Beginning from the much needed price hikes, Gowda has emphasised on not letting the trains become a burden on the government’s pocket. Not when it runs the way it runs, in terms of scale. And yes, the much needed, hikes! Look at the balance sheet of the railways. Its worse than the Brazil-Germany scoresheet! It is appalling to see the nation jump at the very mention of it. Have you ever seen a complete monopoly which is expected to run like the Bullet Trains and look like the Swiss ones; and still do so at the cost of ours?

And the word FDI does NOT mean privatisation. Bet even Sharapova would know at least this! FDIs have been been finally and fortunately announed and even more fortunaltey left out of the operations-gambit of the railway system. Smart! PPPs have definitely become the new most-searched-word on Google after their generous mention in the budget and the “breaking-news” bites. Trending, yet? PPP?

And then there was the piece in Modi’s crown – the one they called ‘Diamond‘. 😉

That, and much more. Patient souls can check it out here.

But despite all of the hullabulloo around the splurge of praise for the speech, it is most important to note the absence of deadlines or specifics around most of the big-words. Even PP and FDI! Diamond too, among others! But in the name of the promised “acchhe din” (“good days”), it might just make sense to allow a patient period of execution. After all, no one has yet found that switch which turns on the happy-mode for the nation. Not yet.

However, more than just what was said in the budget speech, it was a point to note as to how  it was said. Not that he kept on and on and on and on – commendably, for four hours! Man can he talk! But it was nice to see the neat frame of the minister continuing defiantly even towards the end of the speech when some over-excited ministers decided to mimic the buffaloes of ever-sane Haryana. Perhaps Mr. Modi pulled Mr. Gowda aside just before the stepped in the House? ‘Just keep going on. Ignore the noise. We’ll exchange tweets about it later anyway? (Quick wink!)’

Poor Congress now faces the dilemma of not even being able to present a strong opposition in the House. And Rahul’s late-night prep-sessions for next morning’s press-bites with the PR-cum-ad-cum-gibberish agency, haven’t been helping his lack of attention (also known as a ‘quick-nap’ in common Potterworld’s Basilik tongue) during the important bits in that important place.

Hoping all remains well with the rails, the Dutch team and Rahul’s press-bites tomorrow, I am off to some Columbo episodes for now. (Darn you Breaking Bad! And GoT too! Why you no last longer?)


P.S. > You have to listen to the last 5 minutes of the speech to know what the title means. Gowda’s words.