The Railway Budget is a relic of history, but the one that Pawan Kumar Bansal presented on Tuesday was interesting because it seemed to reflect the pragmatic and, dare we say, progressive thinking within the government, which, if it extends to Thursday’s Union Budget, would be just what India needs at this point in time.
Bansal, in his maiden budget presentation, resisted the temptation to seek electoral dividends in a year when 10 states are to go to the polls. He also introduced a dynamic price mechanism to revise fares twice a year and protect the exchequer from frequent and uncontrollable increases in fuel costs. And he announced a plan to hawk the surplus land of Indian Railways, but, to mitigate criticism, cleverly linked it to the building of staff quarters for the organization’s 1.4 million employees.
Will P. Chidambaram do an encore on Thursday?