The anointment of former Gujarat home minister and Modi-aide Amit Shah as the chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party has not come as a surprise as the dark horse was already out of its stable for long. Though Amit Shah is shrouded with a lot of controversies, his success remains in how he is going to transform himself as the real troubleshooter not only for the saffron party but to all who approach him with problems and worries. Though lots of black clouds were shrouding Narendra Modi also who was projected as an autocratic task master, he has proved his critics wrong with his exhibition of humility and suave attitude and the respect he gives to all the leaders including those from the opposition camp. His transition from his position as the chief minister of a state to that of the Prime Minister of the nation has been quite remarkable. Shah must emulate Modi.
Tharcius S Fernando
Should remain on track
Rail Budget 2014 holds many promises. Now it is to be seen how effectively these are implemented. Although many new trains have been introduced, there are very few that are yet to connect important cities across the country. What the Indian Railways really needs is going on a cleanliness drive. Further, all rail routes across the country must have double tracks so that trains can travel faster. And non-AC first-class must be discontinued and the number of AC coaches increased. The Rail Yatri Niwas on the stations should be able to accommodate more transit passengers. But the most important concern is that the Rail Budget has become more of a political tool of late. It promises a lot and then the promises usually remain unfulfilled. Each Rail Budget, henceforth, should have a paragraph on the promises from last years Budget that have been fulfilled and that have not been fulfilled, so that people get to know what has been done for them.
Railway Budget and beyond
Governance being the lead slogan of the current government, one would have expected the Rail Budget to lay out broad contours of improved standards in each of the distinct elements of operation of the Indian Railways. Passenger-related concerns that remain largely unaddressed are transparent and easy ticketing, safety, cleanliness and ease of passenger movement inside stations, punctuality of trains, and law and order. All these are directly linked to governance and superintendence of day-to-day operations. Wages form a large chunk of revenue. To ensure commensurate returns, the wage needs to be split into salary and performance incentive. Incentives should be based on an algorithm of base operating elements and relative performance assessed twice a year. This would have been difficult earlier, but with extensive computerisation now available, it can be handled. Further, bullet trains are no anathema but operational excellence in the Indian Railways must be in place well before this hardware rolls out. Obviously, the intention is not just one showpiece train but many more to follow.