2. Let me begin with a couple of personal experiences. As the Railway Minister of India, I visit a number of places and meet a large number of people from all walks of life. On one visit to Mumbai Central station, I was pleasantly surprised to find a group of women engaged in cleaning. The station looked very clean. On seeing me, a lady came and thanked me for allowing her NGO to adopt the station. For the last five months she had been volunteering a day every month at the station. She said that she felt very happy to be contributing her little bit to this national cause.
3. In another incident, Alok Tiwari, an inspector in the Railway Protection Force, recently deputed to the social media cell of the Railway Board, shared his sentiments. He is responsible for taking action on passengers’ requests for help on social media. He said that for the first time in his professional career, he has realised how his little actions were making a huge difference in passengers’ lives. He felt enthused and proud to be part of Indian Railways.
4. Madam Speaker, it is people like these who are the soul of India and Indian Railways, and that is why this is not my Budget alone. This is a Budget which reflects the aspirations of each and every Page 2 of 46 member of the Railway family; a Budget that reflects the aspirations of the common citizens of India who have not only been writing to me, interacting with me on social media but also meeting me in large numbers to share their thoughts. This is a Budget that has been fashioned by a creative partnership: with ideas from my colleagues in Parliament, industry associations, commuter associations, media and practically all sections of the society. I would like to thank each one of you. But above all, this Budget owes its inspiration to the vision and leadership of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji. He had once said, “My vision is to make railways the backbone of India’s progress and economic development.” We are making all out efforts to translate his vision into reality. Our core objective is to improve the quality of customer experience at the individual level, become an engine of employment generation and economic growth at the national level and convert India’s largest institution into a template for transformation. “ This budget will document a journey of transformation, the journey of our nation, by touching millions of human lives daily. Overcoming the challenges – our strategy
5. These are challenging times, may be one of the toughest. We are faced with two headwinds, entirely beyond our control; tepid growth of our economy’s core sectors due to international slowdown and the looming impact of the 7th Pay Commission and increased productivity bonus payouts. Further, historically declining modal share of Indian Railways, which dropped from Page 3 of 46 62% in 1980 to 36% in 2012, is continuing to exert pressure on the institution. At this moment, I am reminded of our former Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s few lines:
6. IR as an organization has stood the test of time due to the sheer grit and commitment of its employees. However, these challenging times require overhaul of our work culture and ethos cemented over years. Last year, I had unveiled a medium term vision for the Railways which set us on this transformational journey for which we now we need to Reorganise, Restructure and Rejuvenate this institution. We need to bring in a new approach, a new way of working –
7. The three pillars of the strategy that I am laying out today reflect this new thought process. A) Nav Arjan – New revenues: IR typically has focused on increasing revenues through tariff hikes. We want to change that and challenge our conventional thinking on freight policies to win back our share in the transportation sector. We will exploit new sources of revenue so that every asset, tangible or non-tangible, gets optimally monetized. B) Nav Manak – New norms. Each rupee that gets expensed will be re-examined to ensure optimal productivity. We will take a ‘zerobased budgeting’ approach to the financials of the ensuing year. We will improve our efficiency yardsticks and procurement practices to bring them in line with international best practices. We will continue to innovate and optimise our outgo on each activity.