All praise to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad for presenting a passenger-friendly budget. The entitlement of lower berths for senior citizens and women above 45 travelling alone, special coaches for the physically challenged, and a 50 per cent fare concession for candidates travelling to attend UPSC examinations are some laudable features. Provision of hand-held computers for spot reservation, introduction of automatic ticket vending machines, and facilities for getting tickets at ATMs will pave the way for the Railways to become high-tech. As stated in the editorial "A commendable exercise" (Feb. 27), it is a budget that "combines sensitivity to popular needs and sentiments with efficiency and performance."
The best among the proposals is the addition of unreserved coaches in important trains with upholstered seats for general compartment passengers. The process of replacing wooden seats with cushioned ones was initiated by Madhu Dandavate. By completing it, Mr. Prasad has brought great relief to the real `garib.'
C.P. Velayudhan Nair,
The budget is the best ever presented in independent India. It has accommodated the interests of all the sections including the aged, the disabled, and seasonal commuters.
At a time when there is a common belief that revenue can be increased only by burdening the common man, Mr. Prasad deserves praise for thinking differently.
Lt. Col. R.V.S. Mani (retd.),
It was heartening to hear from the Minister about the fabulous profits made by the Railways. It would do a lot of good to the people if a little more was spent (one wonders whether anything is spent at all) on keeping the stations and trains clean.
The Railway Minister has proved that one does not need strings of degrees but just real commercial wisdom and empathy for the common man to present a budget acceptable to all sections. It is no wonder that students from Harvard and Wharton come calling on him.
Tharcius S. Fernando,
Mr. Prasad has put the Railways on the right track and steered it towards profit by effective management of the available resources. The outstanding performance is the result of collective and disciplined efforts of all concerned. Let other loss-making public sector undertakings take a lesson or two from the Railways.
C. George Varghese,
The Railway Minister deserves all praise for presenting yet another pro-poor budget that equally satisfies all other sections. No Minister since independence has ever presented such a budget for the fourth time without taxing the poor and the rich. He has distributed the benefits equally and added comforts for small traders, women, and senior citizens.
Capt. T. Raju,
Mr. Prasad's command over his subject and concern for the people are praiseworthy. He has proved that he is a management expert by reducing passenger fares and freight charges, and by increasing the number of berths and seats, and number of coaches.
There is no doubt that the architect of Garib Raths has ventured into untapped zones and reaped rich benefits.
K. Jiji Panicker,
The new management guru seems to have mastered the three key areas of making the railway system passenger-friendly, developing infrastructure, and providing safety. The less-fare-more-passenger-more-revenue principle is bound to satisfy the whole gamut of passengers besides enriching the department.
Mr. Prasad knows how to please the aam aadmis and make them follow the leader. Apart from marginally reducing the fares in the sleeper and AC class, he has rolled out grandiose plans for the masses in whose hands the votes lie.
While the budget seems to be satisfying on the whole, the Railway Minister does not seem to care about the south, particularly Andhra Pradesh. Despite having many MPs, the State failed to get its due in the budget.
P. Vikas Reddy,
The Indian Railways is a symbol of national integration. But come the Railway budget and every State cries that it has been discriminated against. Of course, the charge is not baseless.
N. Sadasivan Pillai,
Although Mr. Prasad has been adorned with the crown of success, one should also give credit to the Ministers in the previous dispensation and officials who set things moving. Only a magician can bring profit to the world's largest railway industry single-handedly so soon.