How much revenue is lost to the Indian Railways every year with free passes and also decide who gets to travel free and why on our expense
The recent hike in rail fares in India have been discussed, analysed, commented, and largely decried by many. To be fair to all concerned, a random check on leading opinion makers and decision influencers shows that almost all of them have not travelled on a train, after buying their own ticket with their own money, in a long time. Travelling for a holiday in AC Chair Car on Shatabdi Express type trains does not count, incidentally, because it does not reflect the realities. As a long time railway fan, frequent train user, and also as one who has grown up in railway towns, I would like to make the following suggestions to help the Indian Railways generate more revenue.
# Charge a premium for 1AC (first class air-conditioned) at the time of general booking itself, instead of keeping them "on hold" for a variety of priority quota type passengers. Passengers, who travel 1AC, would easily pay a premium of, say 50%, over the basic fares for this;
# Stop including water & foods in the ticket prices and charge for all meals and beverages supplied. As it is, the food quality is dropping on a daily basis. Besides, many regular travellers choose to bring their own food. Also, thanks to mobile phones, fresh hot meals are now being delivered on platforms at your window all over the country;
# Charge for refundable deposit on every item sold on trains, platforms or railway stations, which comes in plastic or similar packaging. The refund can be collected at the destination station. Or a whole new "system" will form where travelling salesmen and vendors would do instant refunds at a slight discount. This will solve multiple issues of garbage disposal as well as cleanliness;
# Utilise land banks blocked off for decades, on account of patronage all over the country. Make the list transparently available on the Indian Railways website. This could be combined with building vertically on railway stations to provide commercial space for internal usage as well as for rent to private organisations. Some of the old colonial era bungalows could be let out as heritage hotels, while the railway officials could reside in apartments;
# Place advertisements inside the passenger coaches. The external parts of the coaches are already being used for advertisements;
# Give some serious competition to the parcel and courier business by encouraging more trains with mixed parcel van and passenger coach configurations, like the Sampark Kranti express trains;
# Scrap the dreams of high speed trains on the same tracks used by goods trains and normal trains. More time and money is lost than is earned in blocking paths for overtakes. Rationalise all MPS (Maximum Permitted Speeds) to 110 kmph or 130 kmph until the slower trains can catch up. Otherwise fresh lines need to be laid;
# Charge extra for lower and upper berths as compared to side berths (present in 2AC, 3AC/3-tier) and middle berths (present in 3AC/3-tier). A lower berth can generate a premium of at least 50%, and an upper berth of at least 25%, over the standard fares.
# Take all railway saloons, including the one lying unused at State Entry Road for post funeral trips to Allahabad, and place them up for rent as either static hotels or for travel-by-anybody who can pay. It is estimated that with the growth in number of railway zones, there are about 360 8-wheeler saloons lying ready for this purpose on an all-India basis. Each one is fitted out better than the other.
The railway ministry should also make the whole system of free passes and travel transparent. For instance, how much revenue is lost to the Indian Railways every year with these free passes? Likewise, the users ought to know who gets free travel passes and the reason why.
The railway ministry should also explain to us why trains which show up as fully sold out, and booked months in advance, actually end up running with empty seats, made available for the highest bidder. Regular travellers are not blind or foolish either.
An increase in prices appears to be inevitable. An increase in inefficiency is not. The Indian Railways do a wonderful job of knitting the country together, but they also need to be more transparent in the way they go about this, and the above steps, which may not raise much by way of direct revenue, will certainly help in getting an understanding from us users of the real issues.
Otherwise, it appears like the behaviour of a monopoly—prices will be increased because they can increase them.
Despite taking his Motorola 'Defy' twice for repairs which included replacement of the mother board and a software upgrade, the handset's problems persisted, said the complainant
New Delhi: Motorola India has been directed by a consumer forum to pay Rs18,000 to a customer for not rectifying defects in a mobile phone sold to him, reports PTI.
The North District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum said the Motorola 'Defy' handset, bought by the customer, was sent to the company's service centre twice for repairs.
Not rectifying the defects amounts to deficiency in service, the forum said.
"It is clear from the record that complainant had given the handset to authorised service centre of opposite party 1 (Motorola India Pvt Ltd) twice for repairs. Certainly, not rectifying the defects in the handset sold to the complainant is deficiency of service. In the circumstances, we are of the view that complainant is certainly entitled for refund of the price and also cost and compensation.
"In view of the reasons given above, we direct the opposite parties (Motorola and its authorised retailer) to jointly and severally pay a sum of Rs16,000, price of mobile phone. Complainant shall return the mobile handset to them. Apart from above, they are also directed to pay Rs2,000 as cost to the complainant," the bench presided by Babu Lal said.
The order came on the complaint by Delhi-resident Vinay Girdhar, who had alleged that the Motorola handset -- worth Rs16,000 -- developed problems barely a month after its purchase.
He had said the smartphone's processing speed had slowed down and it was restarting again and again.
Despite taking the phone twice for repairs which included replacement of the mother board and a software upgrade, the mobile handset's problems persisted, Girdhar had said.
Motorola India was proceeded against ex-parte as no one had appeared on its behalf despite the notice served on it.
The Parliamentary panel had suggested raising the annual income exemption tax limit to Rs3 lakh as against Rs2 lakh proposed in the original DTC Bill and also to adjust subsequent tax slabs
New Delhi: The Union Government will come up with a modified Direct Taxes Code (DTC) Bill after incorporating the suggestions of the Standing Committee on Finance, which among things had suggested raising annual income tax exemption limit to Rs3 lakh, reports PTI.
"Will come out with modified DTC (Bill) in response to Standing Committee suggestions," said Parthasarathi Shome, Advisor to the Finance Minister, at a FICCI event.
He said the Finance Ministry is looking at the Bill and working on tax structures as suggested by the Parliamentary committee.
The Parliamentary panel headed by senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha in its report (March 2012) had suggested raising the annual income exemption tax limit to Rs3 lakh as against Rs2 lakh proposed in the original DTC Bill. Current tax exemption limit is Rs1.8 lakh.
It has also suggested that subsequent tax slabs be adjusted accordingly to provide relief to people reeling under the impact of inflation. The DTC will eventually replace the over five decades old Income Tax Act.
"We are trying to see what could be the best in terms of transparency so that issues that are hurting industry could be covered adequately," Shome said.
He further said the Finance Ministry is also addressing the issue of expenditure control and that remains a major challenge.
"We are looking into expenditure efficiency. We should do more in terms of efficiency. Issues on expenditure side is being addressed. Expenditure control is a major challenge and is being addressed by the Finance Minister," he said.
The DTC Bill, tabled in August 2010, was referred to the Standing Committee for scrutiny.
Shome also said there has been some improvement on the government's non-plan expenditure side since the time of financial crisis in 2008.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram had in November 2012 announced a fiscal consolidation road map wherein he plans to restrict fiscal deficit at 5.3% of GDP in the current fiscal and bring it down to 3% by 2016-17.
Shome further said that the government is showing its intention to bring in clarity in tax laws and reforms in tax administration.
"We have to increasingly do so (tax reforms). That is going to be a vehicle and we won't put it on back burner," Shome said.
He also said the Ministry has asked National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) to calculate the impact of the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the GDP.