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GOOD NEWS

This time for the citizens of India - cheaper travel


One would have expected louder cheering than for sixers on the Cricket field. Alas things are not quite that simple . The know-it-alls always have a different way of looking at things. Especially when they they don't know it all. Owing to some obscure kind of thinking popular measures in a Democracy are not approved of by those who "know better". The word they use is "populist". Implying impractical or unrealistic stances which respects cheap popularity more than expediency. Is " Government of the people , by the people..." just a slogan?

Thank God Mr Nitish Kumar is one those few ministers who commands a lot of respect. Also thank God that he is not a journalist or a petty accountant. He could take a much larger view than most small minded people can take. I am sure he took into consideration the fact that Governments and their activities cannot be run on petty accounting principles. I am also certain he is very aware of the fact that the major income (80%) of the Governement is derived from excise duties which are not allocated to anything specific. I am sure if necessary a little of that can be diverted to the loss accounting most journalists seem to have adopted. A little overdue belt tightening in some areas will recover the presumed shortfall of revenue as opposed to expenses.

A respected paper must take the prize for the strongest condemnation of the Budget. "ELECTION EXPRESS" the headline screams. The editorial inside say "Railway Tragedy". But then we all know that journalists are very talented with words but are sadly completely at bay with even rudimentary logic. Why should only the poor public be selected to bear the burden when budgets are not balanced. Why cannot the axe fall on expenses ? There is so much to choose from, readjusting DAs, whittling down motorcades, releasing unneeded staff. These would be unpopular indeed , as the burden would shift on Government employees, who must be insulated in every way no matter what happens.

Perhaps it is inappropiate to give the example of the Internet just after the dot com doom. The principle they tried was give the main item free and collect on Advertising. It is still working for the big ones out there. And it works for a lot of newspapers and magazines, who sell these at below cost price.

The point I am trying to make is this . Even in the unlikely case when the railways make a loss , it can be adjusted from other sources. As things stand I think the honourable minister has reorganisation in mind . Whatever the fares are today , they are excessive for what is offered in return. Not only that a little chatting on a journey, will confirm to you that more than half the coach is full of people from the Army , railways, or the administration on some sort of concession. Which is the reason that the people of this great country think of public property as Government employee property.

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