Rail Budget 2008- Nightmare or Dream

Every one who watched the news channels during the time Laluji presented the Railway Budget 2008 in Lok Shabha yesterday must have observed three distinct happenings on the screen. I don’t understand why the budget presentation should be so long and boring. Who are supposed to listen that and for what purpose? Even with all the dramatic of gestures and dialogues, some very original ones and some PJs, Laluji at end had to rush through the reading of his papers. I reminded of a school student who has been participating in a speed reading competition. Why should Laluji read all the routes of the newly introduced or extended trains with names of the places? Was it to tell the members of the region in an easy-to-understand way?

And then the members created the din and bustle that they are famous for and it became very difficult to even understand what Laluji was saying. And I could see the Somnathji as a helpless class teacher of present era, appealing and requesting in vain. Why can’t the MPs behave a little more soberly for a change? Can the voters in general or a representative body of theirs can do something or warn them somehow?

But the most visible scenes on the screen were those of the dancing coolies (porters) at stations around the country. Lalu had announced that all, about 37,000 licensed porters would be absorbed as gang-men, regular employees of railways. What a daring decision! It can be only Lalu who can do that. The jubilation was justified. Who doesn’t want a secure job rather than a humiliating one right from the connotation ‘cooli’? I don’t understand if the porter system at the railway station has been abolished. Will there be sufficient number easy-to-handle airport type trolleys?

But there are some more aspects of the budget that requires adulation for Laluji.

· The turn around of railways with Rs 25,000 crore as cash surplus for 2007-08 is a great performance.

· Proposal for free passes for girl students up to graduate level, and 50% discount for women senior citizens have real humane face.

· Queue free ticket counters in next two years, Up-gradation of some railway stations to world class standard, and green toilets in all trains in four years are dreams that every Indian will like to take with certainty of executions even though delayed.

But I still wish the railway employees and managers must start working for a clean station and passenger friendly attitude without waiting for the complete overhaul in these big projects. I am sure late running of train is one that can be solved by the change in the mindsets of the employees.

Let him introduce a Rajdhani Express for his village. (As reported, work is in full swing to lay tracks connecting his Phulwaria village with Selar Kelan, wife Rabri devi’s native place three kilometers away) How does it matter? After all, he hasn’t built any international class airstrip that a CM of a poor state built in his village that he will never use?

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