India has witnessed a huge shift in the sentiments as far as economic prospects are concerned. Much of this expectation centers on the rise of Modi Government and development plans that people expect to be implemented soon. Infrastructure development is crucial for economic recovery to happen. And railways, the lifeline of India, will play a crucial role in the race of economic growth. So how does India fare in this aspect?
The answer to this question does not paint a bright picture unfortunately. The fact is the Indian railways themselves need a lease of life. The poor financial situation of the railways is already well known. What is ironical is that despite enjoying monopolistic position and sales through advance payments, railways are facing a cash crunch.
As suggested in an article in Business Standard, the turn around in the railways is likely to take painfully long, still dragging under the formailities of committees and recommendations. Be it in terms of offering services, modernization or managing finances, railways need a substantial makeover. As the article further suggests, the core of the problem lies in inefficient management. Rationalizing tariffs is something that needs to be expedited. To ensure more investment in the fund starved Indian railways, commercial viability needs to be ensured. To ensure efficiency, it's time to introduce the railways to the private sector.
It's time to shed the inertia as far as railways reforms are concerned. It's an aspect that impacts the life of common man. If infrastructure development is the key to economic recovery, there is no better way to achieve this than through the railways. Over three months have passed when rail budget was announced. And still, the entire reform story is stuck at committee building stage. We have had enough of recommendations and committees. The time to execute and implement is now. Else economic recovery is likely to get derailed soon.