The newly installed Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDkA) government effected a steep hike of 14.2% in passenger fares and 6.5% in freight charges.This was the single largest one time hike in rail fares brought in by any government.
Since the hike came in within a month of the change of guard at Raisina Hill the opposition as well as some coalition partners in the NDA derided the Narendra Modi led dispensation for the decision.The mainstay slogan of the BJP-ACHCHE DIN AYENGE- was squarely slammed and the BJP was taunted for the nature of Achche Din it had ‘imposed’ on the people who had voted for the Party.
However, symptomatic of the politics of the day there is more to the issue than meets the eye.
Firstly the staid facts, the Government justified the hike due to the Rs 26000 crore loss being borne by the Indian Railways including a Rs 30 crore daily loss on account of passenger subsidy. Secondly, (still on the staid facts 😎) the experts on economic issues also came out in favour of the hike as it will haul in Rs 8000 crore annually and should be sufficient to fund the modernisation and infrastructure requirements of the Indian Railways. Thirdly and now comes the juicy bit and most interestingly the hike actually turned out to be a fait accompli for the Government as it had already been approved by the previous Indian National Congress (INC) led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government in the interim budget on 16th of February 2014 and it’s implementation had been delayed on account of electoral considerations of the UPA !!!
Thus the NDA picked up the tab for the hike with a smug INC (now in opposition) shouting the loudest in criticism of the Modi Government !
The hike came as a shocker as once each during the tenures of the UPA I & I I the fares had been downwardly revised. Also, as public memory remains short, a 5-10% hike was brought in by UPA I I in January 2013 but now remains banished from the public conciousness. Whatever be the economic merits of the issue it will be revealed in the days, months and years to come.The Prime Minister though had already forewarned the people of the country to be prepared to swallow a bitter pill (s?) in order to rejuvenate the stagnating and flagging national economy.
The strip however also portrays an issue close to the suburban railway commuters of Mumbai.
It shows the Amul Girl purchasing a ticket from the ticket counter with a white elephant in the Ticket Collector’s (TC) coat holding up a board showing the 14% hike in passenger fares (is it actually 14% for Mumbaikars – read on 😎😜😎). The white elephant is in all probability the image equivalent of the Indian Railways!The Amul Girl is also shown carrying a toast generously smeared with butter 😋( i guess for the feel good factor).
The Tag Line…PASS FAIL HUA is a clever play for a catchy line and signifies the fact that all those who had secured Season Passes were now to pay more thus rendering their supposed plan of saving expenses due to the ‘Pass’ being deemed a ‘fail’-ure.
The Punch Line…TICKET TO TASTE…is referring to the Amul butter being a sure bet and an assured ticket for adding taste to all dishes it forms part of.The USP of the line is the Indian Railways based sign posting with a blue banner on a red circle.
Just a little add on to the facts.
The Mumbai commuters in some cases will have to pay double the price for their Season Passes and not just an additional 14%😭😭😭! Also, as the hike is effective from 25th of June 2014 , all who had procured tickets for a journey beyond the 25th will still have to pay the difference in cost 😛😜😝!! The only bright part in the script is probably the smiling faces of all involved including the elephant 😎
Btw a certain Mr Kejriwal ( not the same who has been referred to earlier in the piece) is having a field day berating the Government, but can’t say the same for the hapless FM listeners of Delhi who have to endure him protesting the hike in his dulcet voice thrice between two songs :mrgreen:😁😁
As of today the Railway Budget has been tabled in the Parliament and true to the election pitch of ushering in development, the focus has been on consolidating existing projects, modernisation of the railways, developing high tech freight corridors, developing railway stations on the lines of modern airports., safety and signalling systems and emphasis on women’s safety and better amenities for commuters.
To speed up the arrival of the Achche Din the Government has also planned to run bullet trains.Since Gujarat has given us the Prime Minister the first bullet train is planned on the Ahmed a bad – Mumbai route!!!.