Shahpur शाहपुर: The Railways should be converted into a public sector corporation. It is running like a government department and not performing as per expectations. The Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia stated this while interacting with students of the Central University Himachal Pradesh here today.
Ahluwalia said a few decades ago, the infrastructure of the Railways was on a par with that of China. The latter is now far ahead of India in terms of railway network infrastructure. The basic reason for that is that China has refurbished its railways ministry whereas in India, it is just like any other government department.
He said the total subsidy on passenger freight in India is around Rs.20000 crores annually. In China, the passenger fare in railways is more than commercial freight rates. In India, it is the reverse. In case the commercial and passenger freights in Indian railways were rationalised, it could help in the industry’s growth, Ahluwalia said.
Earlier, while delivering a lecture on Indian Economic Objectives and Prospects, Montek said in the last two years, the annual growth rate of the Indian economy had gone down from 8 per cent to 5 per cent. Two-third of the reasons for the slowdown in the Indian economy were domestic while one-third of these were linked to the global slowdown, he said.
The basic domestic reasons responsible for slowdown in the Indian economy were environmental clearances and increasing non-performing assets of the banks and non-availability of finances in the market, he added. In the last one decade, there has been a huge increase in investments in India.
The systems in India for environmental clearances were unable to cope with increase in investment proposals, he said. Another reason for the economic slowdown was uncertainty in policy in view of the polls, he added. Whichever government is voted to power in India after May, the economy would achieve a growth rate of about 5.5 per cent this year and about 7 per cent next year, he said.
The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission claimed there had been reduction in poverty in India in the last 10 years. About 140 million people in India had come out of the poverty line in the last 10 years, he said, quoting a poverty measure whose authenticity has been doubted of late.
About the allegation that the poor were getting poorer due to the policies of the present government, he said it was not true. He said though there was no data on income to substantiate the fact that poor were getting poorer in the country, in terms of consumption index, there has been a small increase in inequality in the Indian society. He said the view regarding increasing inequality in the Indian society has been created by media.
In many foreign countries, products meant for the middle class are advertised. In the Indian media, the products meant for the high end society are largely advertised. This has created an impression that the gap between rich and poor is increasing, claimed Ahluwalia.
Highlights of Ahluwalia’s speech
- Ahluwalia said China was far ahead of India in terms of railway network infrastructure
- China had refurbished its railways ministry whereas in India, it is just like any other government department, he said
- About 140 million people in India had come out of the poverty line in the last 10 years, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman said, quoting a poverty measure whose authenticity has been doubted of late.