Private participation in Railways

18/05/2013

Most of the Railway Ministers of India earned the admiration of the commuters and the general public for not raising the fares ,in spite of mounting expenses of the organization on salaries, fuels raw materials, components, replacements etc. The organization was allowed to stand still. The route length of Indian Railways increased in more than 60 years since independence only by a few thousand kilometres from about 54000 km to about 64000 km. Most of the Railway Ministers were/are unable to not resist the temptation to become popular among the people. They do not mind criticism from negligible number of people who talk of generating funds for expansion, enhancing the quality of services, amenities etc.

If Railways is to expand to its potential the only way seems to be to enlist private participation. As in the case of Roadways, private sector can be allowed to construct new lines or additional tracks and collect toll charges from trains as in the case of roadways

As in roadways private operators may be allowed to run trains

Railways already has large tracts of land and hence there may not be need for large scale land acquisition.

The target should be to increase the route length to about 125000Km from present 64000km. (i.e. to double route length).Within a period of about 10 years people should be able to board the train and travel without advance plan.


Foreign Tourists arrival in India and Vietnam

12/05/2013

In spite of the fact that India is a large country with a lot of places of historical, tourist and religious interests, the foreign tourist arrivals in India has not increased as much as it could have. Air connectivity with foreign countries cannot be a reason now as most of the tourist originating countries are connected to India either directly or through intermediate countries in Europe, West Asia and East Asia.Though the international flights from and to Vietnam of late is increasing, Vietnam is still much behind India in air connectivity with other countries.
Tourist arrivals in Vietnam have surpassed that of India.The foreign tourist arrivals during the last three years in Vietnam and India are as follows:

Year———–India————– Vietnam

2010 ———-57 75 692————50 49 855
2011———–63 09 222————60 14 032
2012=———-66 48 318———— 68 47 678

While in 2010 Vietnam was behind India, in 2012 it had more foreign visitors than India.

The reason is that the Tourist Department of India does not promote several major places of tourist and historical interests. It concentrates on Taj Mahal and a few other interests. Tourist Department in the centre should have closer contacts with States Tourist Departments and promote important places jointly.

Central Tourist Department should also not confine its activities on participation in a few tourist fairs, organizing a few food festivals, sending a limited number of foreign tour operators on familiarization trips to India, subsidising their pamphlet printing.The main work of tourist department should be putting large number of foreign outbound tour operators with Indian inbound tour operators who would take care of the few activities being undertaken by the department. Both Central and State Tourist departments should much closer interaction with the Indian Embassies and High Commissions abroad.


Bihar- present status and strategy for faster development

08/05/2013

Bihar state had/has able, efficient and illustrious Chief Ministers like S.K.Sinha, Bhola Paswan Shastri, Dr.Jagannath Mishra, Laloo Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. Some of them had very successful Cabinet Ministers at the Central Government holding important portfolios. The state also had/has brilliant bureaucrats. Some of the successful bureaucrats at the Central government are from Bihar cadre. But none of them was able to lift the state out of poverty. The state was under President’s rule several times though for short periods. Among the states, Bihar still has the lowest per capita income of just Rs12000/-per year. The production of food grains is only 10 million tonnes in 2010-11, less than the production of 10.6 million tonnes in 1991-92. The yield per hectare of land instead of increasing over the years has come down from 1450 kg/hectare(ha) in 1991-92 to 1090 kg per ha in 2010-11. The national average yield in 2010-11 is 2240kg/ha. The people of Bihar do not produce even 100 kg of food grains per head per year while other states on an average produce more than 200kg per head per year.

One of the major reasons for the backwardness of the state is the very high density of population (1100 per sq.km) and a very high population growth rate(25% during 2001-11) and the inability of the successive governments to launch huge developmental projects which would have increased the per capita income and reduced population growth rate. Among the major states, Bihar has the highest population growth rate.

Law and order situation is also not satisfactory.

Experiments like postponing elections for two-three years, forming non-party government, imposing President’s rule, emergency etc could be debated


Housing for low income people

05/05/2013

Private developers are constructing houses mainly for middle and high income group people. There is an acute shortage of houses for low income people.They look to the government to provide free house plots or houses. Most of the houses given to low income people by the government in rural areas are single storied houses. Large area of land is used for these houses. Land being scarce, government is slow in providing housing to this category of people. The government should seriously consider building multi-storied houses for low income people. Government should also consider giving subsidy to private constructors for building multi-storied buildings at affordable prices, so that the shortage of housing for low income people can be wiped out early.