Tuesday, July 8, 2014


The Centre of Indian Trade Unions(CITU) expressed serious concern at the BJP Govt’s first Railway Budget, 2014-15 which declares its dependence on so called public private partnership, private investment including FDI for funding its infrastructural and capacity augmentation projects. It reflects nothing but continuity of the same pro-corporate policy of the much discredited Congress Regime, rather in more aggressive form. 

Just weeks before the Railway Budget, steep hike in passenger fares and freight charges to the tune of 14.2% and 6.5 % respectively exposed the brazen undemocratic as well as anti-people modus operandi of the BJP Govt. Added to this is the budgetary announcement of linking the future prices of travel with fuel adjustment factor which will result in virtual deregulation of railway fares providing for automatic increase in railway fares with the increase in price of fuel. This is nothing but an arrangement for perpetual increase of burden on common people.
Further, the thrust on PPP, FDI and outsourcing in various segments of railway operation and services as outlined in the current Railway Budget, is going to make the situation worse. Despite abject failure of the same exercise on depending on PPP route for infrastructural expansion and services during the UPA regime as reflected in plan expenditure in 2013-14 falling short by a whopping “Rs 59,359 crore from the target due to non-materialisation of PPP targets”, the Modi Govt also preferred to stick to the same provenly failed route. This means, either the expansion work will suffer or the private investors’ lobby will extract more undue concessions from the Govt in the process of their response, finally increasing the burden on the common people. Precisely, that had been the past experience of all PPP projects in sea-ports, airports, roads etc during the UPA’s tenure which increased the burden on the consumers and the people in a big way. 

Despite admitting in the budget the abject failure of the Railways to implement the declared and sanctioned projects even to an insignificant extent, resulting in huge accumulation of unfulfilled projects announced in successive budgets, the current Budget failed to present any concrete roadmap for their execution except giving sound bites on prioritization, time frame etc. Even the new announcements made in the current budget do not have appropriate budgetary back-up, rendering them to be deceptive in real sense.
The Budget sounded high on Govt’s commitment to safety, but kept absolute silence about filling up around 3 lakh vacancies in the Railways, majority of which are related to management and maintenance of safety standards in railway operation.  

CITU records its condemnation to this anti-people and privatization oriented Railway Budget and calls upon the working people to voice their protest against such retrograde exercise of the Modi Govt.

Railway Budget: More Burdens on People

The first railway budget of this BJP-led NDA government is a cosmetic exercise, high on rhetoric and low in substance.  The emphasis had been in high-sounding bullet trains and commercial freight corridors with no budgetary calculations to back up.  The entire emphasis is to attract FDI and to undertake all further expansion and modernization through the ignominious PPP route. 
The sub-text of the budget is designed to impose greater burdens on the common people  who need the railways the most and who use it the most.  Apart from the pre-budget hikes, which bring in a revenue of Rs. 8,000 crores, this budget has linked the future prices for travel with the fuel adjustment factor.  This means that with every increase in the price of fuel, the cost of travel will automatically go up.  Therefore, there will be a continuous increasing burden on the people. 
Further, experience of FDI and PPP in other infrastructure sectors like airports and seaports has shown how the costs to the consumer have grown exponentially.  This is now bound to happen with the railways imposing further burdens on the people. Even these calculations of PPP are completely unrealistic as the budget itself informs that the last year’s target of Rs. 6,000 crore through the PPP route has not been realised.  The budget, therefore, is a blueprint for the privatization of Indian railways at the cost of the Indian people who will bear the brunt of the profit maximization by the private sector and  FDI. 
As a result, the social responsibility  of the Indian Railways, of catering to the common people and making backward areas accessible is being given the go-by. 

Far from addressing the question of improving the health of the Indian Railways, the budget has shown that the operating ratio is now 95 per cent, i.e., 95 out of every 100 rupees earned is being spent.  This has come down by 2.7 per cent from an earlier operating ratio of around 90 per cent. In spite of this, the Railway Minister has announced that the market borrowing will be lower despite the target of internal resource generation being short by over Rs. 2,000 crores.  

Though the Railway Minister mentioned that of the 99 new projects sanctioned during the last decade, only one has been completed, he failed to inform any roadmap for many of the important new projects that were designed to perform the most important role of the Indian Railways in discharging its social responsibility towards the country and the people.   Clearly, the future expansion of the railways has been halted. 
Though there has been a lot of talk on improving the safety standards, nothing substantial has been suggested.  Further, there is  no indication that the close to 3 lakh vacant posts, mainly concerning the maintenance of safety standards, will be filled.  
In sum, it is clear that this government is relying entirely on attracting FDI in the railways and large-scale privatization rather than discharging the government’s responsibility towards improving the health of the Indian Railways so vital to our economy and the people.    The net result would be increasing burdens on the people and the unfortunate further lowering of the safety standards.

A Tribute to Comrade Jyoti Basu on his Birth Centenary

Jyoti Basu  the doyen of Indian Communist movement  was today remembered in his state  of West Bengal with elan The Central Programme   which was organized at Najrul Mancha  in Kolkata saw over pouring of emotions from the mass who gathered there despite  inclement weather .  Noted Economist Prabhat Pattanayak  delivered his address as the key note speaker  in the programme alongside of the Left Leaders of the state including former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattachary and  Left Front Chairman Biman Basu . Notable speakers in the programme included Jyoti Basu’s press Secretary  Sarit Bandhyapadhya and   Naxal leader  Ajijul Haque, CPI leader Manjukumar Majumdar , Rsp leader Khiti Goswami   .  The programme was presided over  by nonagenarian  Forward Block leader Ashok Ghosh .

In his keynote address eminent economist  Prabhat Pattanayak said that after the Castro brothers  Jyoti Basu is the only communist leader in the world with maximum popularity .While Party leaders like P Sundaraiya  M Basabpunanaiah came from a humble background Jyoti Basu who belonged from a well to do background had been endeared to the mass as he had no duplicity  and had earned the trust of the masses  as an outstanding communist leader . 

In his speech he traced  the origin of Bengals Social and economic crisis  and he said that after Ireland ,Bengal was the next colony of the raj era  which was exploited to the core by the colonial rule  by lieu of permanent settlement . The Agararian crisis which stared at the state  was due to no capital intake in irrigation   and per capita agrarian growth was the lowest in  the state . Along with that  there was crisis in the Jute and other capital industry in the state and said that  real revival of the states economy occurred in the 80’s decade  and it was the  2nd renaissance of Bengal courtesy the communist party . Accusing that it has been the Union Government which has led the state Governments to a Debt trap he said that now industrial growth is at 0 % and inflation stands at 10%. The Neo liberalization has thrown   a fascist face as the corporate lobby has brought to the power in the country  Narendra mOdi . Now we are in the face of rampant Privatistation with  employment growth at 0.8%  we are now faced  with the growth of lumpen capitalism which is happening  in the state of west Bengal.Infact the nature of criminal activities which are taking place in the state can be explained with this  and the Left Is the only consistent force against this .  HE also called for throwing up of new programme alongside the old ones like the land reforms  or smashing the caste basis in agriculture  and  he called on to the Left  to campaign for movement based on giving universal rights to people like that of right to free heathcare , right to food and   Right to free quality education and so on .

 Former Chief Minister of the state Buddhadeb Bhattacharya described The communist leader  as a multifaceted persona and harped on the three main attributes of Jyoti Basu as champion of democratic rights , as   a   champion of  secular credentials  and his credit in bringing the voice of the working class and the agrarian section to the  corridors of power.  He also said that currently we are in a difficult situation where the country’s politics has taken a rightist turn  and the Corporate RSS lobby has brought the   Narendra Modi to the power.

Left Front Chairman Biman Basu in his speech  highlighted that attribute of Jyoti Basu and his zeal to work for the common people  and to work without any personal gain  and called on to people  for following that ideals .  In his Speech Press Secretary to Jyoti Basu pointed out his qualities as a human being - one who worked with rational mind and scientific attitude .  In His speech Naxal leader Ajijul Haque pointed out  that Jyoti Basu was  during the times of ideological struggle was  the emblem of change .   The Longest Serving speaker of any assembly of the country , Former West Bengal speaker Hasim Abdul Halim in his speech  told that  Comrade Jyoti Basu is an emblem of movement . 

 The programme where  Cultural rendition’s were made was organized by Jyoti Basu Birth centenary observance Committee which consisted of wHo’s who of the cultural literary political  and sports world .  The Committee has also taken up programme of organizing Symposiums seminars and other programmes to observe the birth centenary of the ace statesman.  Apart from the Central programme throughout the state  Blood donation camp  and cultural programmes were held  in memory of the Communist leader.