Thursday, February 28, 2013

Budget Summary

The Union Budget for 2013-14 aims at ‘higher growth leading to inclusive and sustainable development.’ With this asmool mantra, the Finance Minister Shri P Chidambaram has sought to increase allocation to key areas and provide incentives for investments and savings while containing the fiscal deficit to 4.8% of GDP.

Presenting the Union Budget in Parliament today, the Finance Minister expressed the hope that the India would achieve high economic growth despite slowdown in the global economic growth.

The Minister said that his government has been able to contain the fiscal deficit at 5.2% in 2012-13 by following the path of fiscal consolidation.  But the current account deficit (CAD) is a greater worry, the Minister added. He, therefore, proposes to encourage foreign investment that is consistent with India’s economic objectives.

The Finance Minister said that the other areas of concern addressed by his Government are inflation and government expenditure. “Our efforts in the past few months have brought down headline WPI inflation to about 7.0 percent and core inflation to about 4.2 percent. It is food inflation that is worrying, and we shall take all possible steps to augment the supply side to meet the growing demand for food items,” he said. The Minister further said that he had no choice but to rationalize government expenditure in view of huge fiscal deficit in 2012-13. “We also took some policy decisions that had been deferred for too long, corrected some prices, and undertook a review of certain tax policies.”


Shri Chidambaram made promises to the women, the youth and the poor -  the three faces that represent the majority of the people of India. Stating that the government pledges to do everything possible to empower the women and to keep them safe and secure, he said that a number of initiatives were underway and many more would be taken by the Government as well as non-government organizations. He announced the setting up of a fund - Nirbhaya Fund - with the Government contributing Rs. 1000 crore.
The Minister also announced a Rs. 1,000 crore scheme for training youth to boost their employability and productivity. The National Skill Development Corporation will be asked to set the curriculum and standards for training different skills. Trained youth who pass a test at the end of training will get a monetary reward of Rs.10000 on an average. This initiative is likely to motivate 10 lakh youth.

For the benefit of the poor, the Minister assured that Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes will be rolled out throughout the country during the term of the UPA Government. “We are redoubling out efforts to ensure that the digitized beneficiary lists are available; that a bank account is opened for each beneficiary; and that the bank account is seeded with Aadhaar in due course,” he said.


The allocation for Rural Development Ministry has been raised by 46 percent to Rs 80,194 crore in 2013-14.

Pradham Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)-II has been carved out to benefit States that have substantially fulfilled the objectives of PMGSY. This will benefit states such as Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan.

Ministry of Agriculture gets a rise of 22 per cent over the revised estimates (RE) for 2012-13, at Rs 27,049 crore. Rs 500 crore is being allocated to start a programme on crop diversification. It will encourage farmers in the original green revolution states to choose alternative crops. A pilot programme on Nutri-Farms will be started for introducing new crop varieties that are rich in micro nutrients, such as iron-rich bajra. A sum of up to Rs 200 crore is to be provided to start the pilots.

The Budget seeks to support Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO), including Farmer Producer Companies (FPC) which have emerged as aggregators of farm produce and link farmers directly to markets.

The target of agricultural credit for 2012-13 (Rs. 5,75,000 crore) is likely to be exceeded, and a target of Rs 7,00,000 crore farm credit has been fixed for the next year.

The interest subvention scheme for short-term crop loans is proposed to be continued for loans by public sector banks, RRBs and Cooperative banks, and expanded to private scheduled commercial banks. Under the scheme, a farmer who repays the loan on time is able to get credit at 4 cent per year.

Rs.307 crore have been provided for setting up of the National Livestock Mission. This will attract investment and enhance livestock productivity. A sub-mission of this Mission seeks to increase the availability of feed and fodder.

Expressing the hope that the National Food Security Bill will be passed by Parliament as early as possible, the Finance Minister has set apart Rs. 10,000 crore towards the incremental cost that is likely under the Act.


Education has been allocated Rs. 65,867 crore, an increase of 17 per cent over the RE for 2012-13.

ICDS gets Rs. 17,700 crore representing an increase of 11.7 per cent. A multi-sectoral programme to tackle maternal and child malnutrition that was announced last year will be implemented in 100 districts during 2013-14. It will be further scaled up to cover 200  districts the year after.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been allocated Rs. 37,330 crore.  Of this, the new National Health Mission that combines the rural mission and the proposed urban mission will get Rs. 21,239 crore - an increase of 24.3 percent over the RE.

The Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) has been allocated Rs. 11,500 crore and will include a State component for Bihar, the Bundelkhand region, West Bengal, the KBK districts of Odisha and the 82 districts under the Integrated Action Plan.

Science and Technology related Departments have been allocated funds with substantial enhancements.

A National Institute of Sports Coaching is proposed to be set up at Patiala at a cost of Rs. 250 crore over a period of three years.

 Drinking water and sanitation will receive Rs. 15,260 crore. Rs. 1,400 crore is being provided for setting up water purification plants to cover arsenic and fluoride effected rural habitations.

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) will receive Rs. 14,873 crore as against RE of Rs. 7,383 crore in the current year. Out of this, a significant portion will be used to support the purchase of upto 10,000 buses, especially by hill States.

Defence gets an allocation of Rs. 2,03,672 crore and the assurance that constraints will not come in the way of providing any additional requirement for the security of the nation.

Stating that adequate funds must be provided for programmes that benefit  women, children and minorities, as also the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the Finance Minister  proposed to allocate Rs 41,561 crore to the scheduled caste sub-plan and Rs 24,598 crore to the tribal sub-plan. The programmes relating to women get Rs. 97,134 crore and child budget, Rs. 77,236 crore. The Ministry of Women and Child and Development has been asked to design a scheme that will address women’s concerns, and an additional sum of Rs. 2,000 crore has been provided to the Ministry to began work in this regard. Ministry of Minority affairs has been allocated Rs. 3,511 crore and the Department of Disability Affairs, Rs. 110 crore.


The Finance Minister stated that the key to restart the growth engine was to attract more investment, and that the government will improve communication of its policies to remove any apprehension or distrust in the minds of investors.

 A number of steps to mobilize investment have been announced in the Budget keeping in view that as per 12th Plan the private sector will share 47 percent of Rs 55,00,000 crore investment in infrastructure. Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDF) will be encouraged. India Infrastructure Finance Corporation (IIFCL) will offer credit enhancement to infrastructure companies that wish to access the bond market to tap long term funds. Some institutions will be allowed to issue tax - free bonds up a total sum of Rs 50,000 crore (as against Rs 25,000 crore in 2012-13). Assistance of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank will be sought to build roads in the North Eastern States and connect them to Myanmar. The corpus of Rural Infrastructure Development Funds (RIDF) is proposed to be raised to Rs. 20,000 crore. A sum of Rs 5,000 crore will be made available to NABARD to finance construction of warehouses, godowns, silos and cold storage units designed to store agricultural produce.

Shri Chidambaram informed that the newly set-up Cabinet Committee on Investment has held two meetings and taken decisions in respect of a number of oil and gas, power and coal projects. CCI will take up some more projects shortly, he said. The Minister also informed that a regulatory authority is being constituted for the road sector. Bottlenecks stalling road projects have been addressed and 3,000 km  of road projects in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will be awarded in the first six months of 2013-14.

The Budget introduces an investment allowance for new high value investment. A company investing Rs. 100 crore or more in plant and machinery during the period 1.4.2013 to 31.3.2015 will be entitled to deduct an investment allowance of 15 percent of the investment (in addition to depreciation).


Plans for seven new cities have been finalized for industrial corridors and work on two new smart industrial cities at Dholera (Gujarat) and Shendra Bidkin (Maharashtra) will start during 2013-14. A comprehensive plan is being prepared for the Chennai Bengaluru industrial corridor. Preparatory work has started for the next corridor - Bengaluru Mumbai industrial corridor.

Two new ports will be established in Sagar (West Bengal) and in Andhra Pradesh. In addition, a new outer harbour will be developed in the VOC port at Thoothukkudi (Tamil Nadu) through PPP at an estimated cost of Rs 7,500 crore.

A power transmission system will be constructed from Srinagar to Leh and for this Rs. 226 crore have been provided in 2013-14.

The oil and gas exploration policy will be reviewed to move from profit sharing to revenue sharing contracts. A policy to encourage exploration and production of shale gas will be announced. The natural gas pricing policy will be reviewed and uncertainties regarding pricing will be removed.

To provide greater support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), the refinancing capability of SIDBI is proposed to be enhanced from Rs. 5,000 crore to Rs. 10,000 crore per year. SIDBI will also be provided a corpus of Rs 500 crore to set up a Credit Guarantee Fund for factoring.

Apparel Parks are proposed to be set up within the Integrated Textile Parks, to house apparel manufacturing units. A new scheme, Integrated Processing Developing Scheme, is being started to address to environmental concerns of the textile industry. Working capital and term loans to the handloom sector will be available at a concessional interest of 6 per cent. This will benefit 1.5 lakh weavers and 1,800 primary co-operative societies.


The Budget proposes three measures to promote household savings. One, the income limit for Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Scheme for first time investors is being raised from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 12 lakh. Two, persons taking loan for first home up to Rs 25 lakh will be entitled to an additional deduction of interest of up to Rs 1 lakh. Three, instruments such as Inflation Indexed Bonds will be introduced to protect savings from inflation.


Shri Chidambaram proposed to constitute a Standing Council of Experts in the Ministry of Finance to analyse the international competitiveness of the Indian financial sector.

The Finance Minister announced that Rs. 14,000 crore worth of capital infusion will be made into public sector banks. It will be ensured that these banks meet the Basel III regulations.

India’s first women’s bank is proposed to be set up with Rs. 1,000 crore as initial capital.

The government has finalized a number of proposals relating to the insurance sector in consultation with IRDA. These include empowering insurance companies to open branches in Tier II cities and below without prior approval of IRDA, having an office of LIC and a public general-insurance company in all towns with the population of 10,000, and  permitting banks to act as insurance broker.

The Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojana, which cover 34 million families below the poverty line, will now be extended to other categories such as rickshaw, auto-rickshaw and taxi-drivers, sanitation workers, rag pickers and mine workers.

The Finance Minister proposes to evolve a comprehensive social security package by converging various schemes for life-cum-disability cover, health cover, maternity assistance and pension benefits.

A number of proposals relating to capital market have been finalized in consultation with SEBI. These include simplification of procedure and uniforms norms for foreign portfolio investors, clarity relating to FDI investment, allowing FIIs to participate in new areas, etc. 


The total expenditure in the Union Budget 2013-14 is pegged at Rs. 16,65,297 crore. Out of it Rs.5,55,322 crore (33%) is Plan expenditure.  The non-Plan expenditure is estimated at Rs 11,09,975 crore.

The Plan expenditure in 2013-14 will be 29.4 per cent more than the revised estimates of the current year. All flagship programmes have been fully and adequately funded.

Juxtaposing economic welfare with the economic policy, the Minister said that the link between policy and welfare can be expressed in a few words: opportunities, education, skills, jobs and incomes. The Budget has before it one overarching goal - to create opportunities for the youth to acquire education and skills that will get them decent jobs or self-employment that will bring them adequate incomes that will enable them to live with their families in a safe and secure environment. The Budget sets a target of skilling 90 lakh people in 2013-14, for which funds will be released by the National Rural Livelihood Mission and National Urban Livelihood Mission.


The General Budget reiterates that clarity in tax laws, a stable tax regime, a non-adversarial tax administration, a fair mechanism for dispute resolution and independent judiciary for greater assurance is underlying theme of tax proposals. It is proposed to set up the Tax Administration Reforms Commission.

As regards Direct Taxes, a relief of Rs. 2000 for the Tax Payers in the first bracket of Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs have been proposed. A surcharge of 10 percent on persons (other than companies) whose taxable income exceeds Rs.1 crore have been levied. Surcharge has been increased from 5 to 10 percent on domestic companies whose taxable income exceed Rs. 10 crore. In case of foreign companies, surcharge will increase from 2 to 5 percent, if the taxable income exceeds Rs. 10 crore. Additional surcharges to be in force for only one year. Mr. Chidambaram said, education cess to continue at 3 percent.

The Finance Minister announced the grant of investment allowance at the rate of 15 percent to manufacturing companies that invest more than Rs. 100 crore in plant and machinery during the period 1.4.2013 to 31.3.2015. Concessional rate of tax of 15 per cent on dividend received by the Indian companies from its foreign subsidiary proposed to continue for one more year. It is proposed that TDS at the rate of one percent on the value of the transfer of immovable property where the consideration exceeds Rs. 50 lakhs to be levied. Agricultural land to be exempted from TDS. Modified provisions of GAAR will come into effect from 1.4.2016. It is also proposed to increase the rate of tax on payments by way of royalty and fees for technical services to non-residents from 10 percent to 25 percent. The Budget also proposes to introduce Commodities Transaction Tax (CTT) in a limited way. However, agricultural commodities will be exempted. A number of administrative measures such as extension of refund banker system to refund more than Rs. 50,000, technology based processing, extension of e-payment through more banks and expansion of in the scope of annual information returns by Income-tax Department.

With regards to Indirect Taxes, the Finance Minister proposed no change in the normal rates of 12 percent for excise duty and service tax. Similarly, no change has been made in the peak rate of custom duty of 10 percent for non-agricultural products. Custom duty on free gold limit increased to Rs. 50,000 in case of male passenger and Rs. 1,00,000 in case of a female passenger subject to conditions. Duty on imported luxury goods such as high end motor vehicles, motor cycles, yachts and similar vessels increased. Custom duty on Set Top Boxes increased from 5 to 10 percent while on raw silk increased from 5 to 15 percent to boost domestic production. Custom duty on specified machinery for manufacture of leather and leather goods including footwear reduced from 7.5 to 5 percent. The Budget also proposes that period of concession available for specified part of electric and hybrid vehicles extended upto 31 March 2015.

Excise duty on SUVs increased from 27 to 30 percent. However, this will not apply to SUVs registered as taxies. Cigarettes will cost more as specific excise duty increased by about 18 percent. Similar increases are proposed on cigars, cheroots and cigarillos. Duty on mobile phones priced above Rs. 2000 has been raised to 6 percent from the current one percent.

The Budget proposes ‘Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme’ where a defaulter may avail of the scheme on condition that he files a truthful declaration of Service Tax dues since 1.10.2007. It is a one-time scheme in which interest, penalty and other consequences will be waived.

The Budget proposes to mobilize Rs. 18,000 crore in which new proposals in indirect taxes will yield Rs. 4,700 crore and direct taxes of Rs. 13,300 crore.

In a major step to rationalize taxation on goods and services, the Budget has earmarked Rs. 9,000 crore towards the first installment of the balance of CST compensation. The Minister said that overwhelming majority States have agreed that there is a need for Constitutional amendment to pass GST law. It will be drafted by the State Finance Ministers and the GST Council, the Minister added.

Highlights of the Budget

The Union Budget for 2013-14 aims at higher growth rate leading to inclusive and sustainable development as ‘mool mantra’.

·        Finance Minister makes three promises: to women, youth and the poor.
·        Nirbhaya Fund to empower women and to keep them safe and secure.
·        Proposal to set up India’s first Women’s Bank as a public sector bank.
·        Rs. 1,000 crore for skill development of ten lakh youth to enhance their employability and productivity.
·        Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Scheme to be rolled out throughout the country during the term of UPA Government.
·        Fiscal Deficit for 2013-14 is pegged at 4.8 percent of GDP. The Revenue Deficit will be 3.3 percent for the same period.
·        Plan Expenditure placed at Rs. 5,55,322 crore. It is 33.3 percent of the total expenditure while Non Plan Expenditure is estimated at Rs. 11,09,975 crore. The plan expenditure in 2013-14 will be 29.4 percent more than the RE of the current year i.e. 2012-13.
·        Substantial rise in allocation to the social sector.  Allocation for Rural Development Ministry raised by 46 percent to Rs. 80,194 crore.
·        The target for farm credit for 2013-14 has been set at Rs. 7,00,000 crore against Rs. 5,75,000 crore during the current year.
·        Rs. 10,000 crore earmarked for National Food Security towards the incremental cost.
·        Education gets Rs. 65,867 crore, an increase of 17 percent over RE for 2012-13.
·        ICDS gets Rs. 17,700 crore. This is 11.7 percent more than the current year.
·        Drinking water and sanitation will receive Rs. 15,260 crore. Rs. 1,400 crore is being provided for setting up water purification plants to cover arsenic and fluoride affected rural areas.
·        Health and Family Welfare Ministry has been allotted Rs. 37,330 crore. National Health Mission will get Rs. 21,239 crore which represents 24.3 percent over the RE.
·        The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission  (JNNURM) will receive Rs. 14,873 crore as against RE of Rs. 7,383 crore in the current year.
·        Defence has been allocated Rs. 2,03,672 crore.  
·        Rs. 3,511 crore have been earmarked to Minority Affairs Ministry, 60 percent higher than RE for 2012-13.
·        The Government will encourage Infrastructure Debt Fund (IDF) and allow some institutions to raise tax free bonds upto Rs. 50,000 crore which is 100 percent more than the current year. 
·        India Infrastructure Finance Corporation (IIFC), in partnership with ADB will help infrastructure companies to access bond market to tap long term funds.
·        Income limit under Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) will be raised from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 12 lakh.
·        First home loan from a bank or housing finance corporation upto Rs. 25 lakh entitled to additional deduction of interest upto Rs. 1 lakh.
·        Proposal to launch Inflation Indexed Bonds or Inflation Indexed National Security Certificates to protect savings from inflation.
·        On oil and gas exploration policy, the Budget proposes to move from the present profit sharing mechanism to revenue sharing. Natural gas pricing policy will be reviewed.
·        On coal, the Budget proposes adoption of a policy of pooled pricing.
·        Benefits or preferences enjoyed by MSME to continue upto three years after they grow out of this category.
·        Refinancing capacity of SIDBI raised to Rs. 10,000 crore.
·        Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) for textile to continue in 12th Plan with an investment target of Rs. 1,51,000 crore.
·        Rs. 14,000 crore will be provided to public sector banks for capital infusion in 2013-14. 
·        A grant of Rs. 100 crore each has been made to 4 institutions of excellence including Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
·        New taxes to yield Rs. 18,000 crore.
·        A surcharge of 10 percent on persons (other than companies) whose taxable income exceeds Rs.1 crore have been levied.
·        Tobacco products, SUVs and Mobile Phones to cost more.
·        Relief of Rs. 2000 for the tax payers in the first bracket of 2 to 5 lakhs.
·        ‘Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme’ launched for recovering service tax dues.
·        Rs. 9,000 crore earmarked as the first installment of balance of CST compensations to different States/UTs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Indian economy is likely to grow between 6.1% to 6.7%  in 2013-14 as the downturn is more or less over and the economy is looking up. Following the slowdown induced by the global financial crisis in 2008-09, the Indian economy responded strongly to fiscal and monetary stimulus and achieved a growth rate of 8.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively in 2009-10 and 2010-11, but due to a combination of both external and domestic factors, the economy decelerated growing at 6.2% and an estimated 5% in 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively. The Economic Survey 2012-13, presented by the Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha predicts that the global economy is also likely to recover in 2013 and various government measures will help in improving the Indian economy’s outlook for 2013-14. While India’s recent slowdown is partly rooted in external causes, domestic causes are also important. The slowdown in the rate of growth of services in 2011-12 at 8.2%, and particularly in 2012-13 to 6.6 percent from the double-digit growth of the previous six years, contributed significantly to slowdown in the overall growth of the economy, while some slowdown could also be attributed to the lower growth in agriculture and industrial activities. But despite the slowdown, the services sector has shown more resilience to worsening external conditions than agriculture and industry. For improved agricultural growth, the survey underlines the need for stable and consistent policies where markets play an appropriate role, private investment in infrastructure is stepped up, food price, food stock management and food distribution improves, and a predictable trade policy is adopted for agriculture. FDI in retail allowed by the government can pave the way for investment in new technology and marketing of agricultural produce in India. Fast agricultural growth remains vital for jobs, incomes and food security.
The survey points out that the priority for the Government will be to fight high inflation by reducing the fiscal impetus to demand as well as by focusing on incentivizing food production through measures other than price supports. But unlike the previous year, when food inflation was mainly driven by higher protein food prices, this year the pressure has been coming mainly from cereals. On the Balance of Payments and External Position, the survey highlights that with net exports declining, India’s balance of payments has come under pressure. Moreover, in the current fiscal, foreign exchange reserves have fluctuated between US$ 286 billion and US$ 295.6 billion, while the rupee remained volatile in the range of Rs 53.02 to Rs 54.78 per US dollar during October 2012 to January 2013.
The survey had a special chapter focusing on jobs. The future holds promise for India provided we can seize the “demographic dividend” as nearly half the additions to the Indian labour force over the period 2011-30 will be in the age group 30-49. India is creating jobs in industry but mainly in low productivity construction and not enough formal jobs in manufacturing, which typically are higher productivity. The high productivity service sector is also not creating enough jobs. As the number of people looking for jobs rises, both because of the population dividend and because share of agriculture shrinks, these vulnerabilities will become important. Because good jobs are both the pathway to growth as well as the best form of inclusion, India has to think of ways of enabling their creation.
The survey calls for a widening of the tax base, and prioritization of expenditure as key ingredients of a credible medium term fiscal consolidation plan. This along with demand compression and augmented agricultural production should lead to lower inflation, giving the RBI the requisite flexibility to reduce policy rates. Lower interest rates could provide an additional fillip to investment activity for the industry and services sectors, especially if some of the regulatory, bureaucratic, and financial impediments to investment are eased. On financial sector reform, it takes note of the high level of gross NPAs (non-performing assets) of the banking sector which increased from 2.36 percent of the total credit advanced in March 2011 to 3.57 percent of total credit advanced in September 2012. The survey suggests that revival of growth will help contain NPAs, but more attention will have to be paid to whether projects are adequately capitalized up front given the risks. Expenditure on social services also increased considerably in the 12th Plan, with the education sector accounting for the largest share, followed by health. In the 11th Plan period nearly 7 lakh crore rupees has been spent on the 15 major flagshipprogrammes. A number of legislative steps have also been taken to secure the rights of people, like the RTI, MGNREGA, the Forest Rights Act, AND THE Right to Education. However, the survey notes that there are pressing governance issues like programme leakages and funds not reaching the targeted beneficiaries that need to be addressed. Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) with the help of the Unique Identification Number (Aadhaar) can help plug some of these leakages. With the 12thPlan’s focus on ‘environmental sustainability’, India is on the right track. However, the challenge for India is to make the key drivers and enablers of growth-be it infrastructure, the transportation sector, housing, or sustainable agriculture-grow sustainably.                
            Dr. Raghuram G. Rajan, Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance writes in an introduction to the Survey that these are difficult times, but India has navigated such times before, and with good policies it will come through stronger. Slowdown is a wake-up call for increasing the pace of actions and reforms. The way out lies in shifting national spending from consumption to investment, removing the bottlenecks to investment, growth, and job creation, in part through structural reforms, combating inflation both through monetary and supply side measures, reducing the costs for borrowers of raising finances and increasing the opportunities for savers to get strong real investment returns.

Railway Budget 2013: Highlights

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has announced the Union Railway Budget for 2013-14 in Parliament. Here are the highlights :
 ● No increase in passenger fares 
 ● Railways will absorb Rs. 850 crore on account of no hike in passenger fare
 ● Marginal increase in reservation charges, cancellation charges
 ● Supplementary charges for superfast trains and tatkal booking
 ● 26 new passenger trains to be launched
 ● 67 express trains to be launched 
 ● 9 Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains to be introduced
 ● 500-km new lines to be completed in 2013-14
 ● Concessional fare for sportspersons
 ● 5 per cent average increase in freight 
 ● Diesel price hike added Rs. 3,300 crore to fuel bill of Railways
 ● Railways hopes to end 2013-14 with a balance of Rs. 12,506 crore
 ● 5.2 per cent growth in passenger traffic expected in 2013-14
 ● Railways' freight loading traffic scaled down by 100 million tonnes from 1025 million tonnes because of economic slowdown
 ● Railways to set up a Debt Service Fund
 ● Rs. 3,000 crore loan from Finance Ministry re-paid with interest by Railways this financial year

 ● New coach manufacturing and maintenance facilities to be set up in various places including Rae Bareli, Bhilwara, Sonepat, Kalahandi, Kolar, Palakkad and Pratapgarh
 ● Five fellowships to be announced to motivate students
 ● Centralised training institute to be set up in Secunderabad
 ● Will provide better living conditions for Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel
 ● Seek to fill 1.52 lakh vacancies in railways this year. 47,000 vacancies for weaker sections and physically challenged to be filled up soon
 ● Target of Rs. 4,000 crore for railway production units in 2014 
 ● Trying to connect Manipur through railways
 ● Investment of Rs. 3800 crore for port connectivity projects
 ● Target of Rs. 1000 crore each for Indian Railways Land Development Authority and Indian Railways Station Development authority
 ● Toll free 1800111321 number to address grievance. Introduced from February 2013
 ● Labs to test food provided in trains. ISO certification for all rail kitchens
 ● Advance fraud control will be used for ticket sale
 ● Induction of e-ticketing through mobile phones, SMS alerts to passengers 
 ● Next-generation e-ticketing system to improve end user experience. The system will support 7200 users per minute 
 ● Wheelchairs and escalators to be made to make stations and trains friendlier for the differently-abled.
 ● Rs. 100 crore to be spent to augment facilities at Delhi, New Delhi and Nizamuddin railway stations
 ● Special attention to stations in NCR.
 ● Free wi-fi facilities in select trains. 60 more 'adarsh' stations 
 ● Safety measures including new coaches with anti-climb features to be brought in
 ● More ladies specials in metros and a helpline number to be implemented
 ● Railways meets need of consumers while adhering to sound economic principles. Need to expand at a much faster growth rate
 ● I am committed to improving passenger amenities
 ● Resource crunch cannot be a reason for substandard services 
 ● Elimination of over 10,000 level crossings 
 ● 17 bridges sanctioned for rehabilitation
 ● Enhancement of the track capacity and the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS)
 ● Indigenously developed collision avoidance system to be put to trial
 ● Induction of self-propelled accident relief trains along with fast and reliable disaster management system
 ● Railway passengers deserve safe and comfortable travel. Safety is a mandate in running trains. There has been a significant reduction in accidents - .41 per million kms in 2003-04 to .13 in 2011- 12. We will strive to work towards a zero accident situation.
 ● Our targets need to be higher
 ● Mounting scarcity of resources, thin spread of funds continue to be a problem 
 ● The number of passenger trains has increased from 8000 in 2001 to over 12000 in 2012 - yet losses continue to mount. It is estimated to be Rs. 24,000 cr in 2012-13 
 ● Indian railways must remain financially viable
 ● Indian Railways plays an unparalleled growth in integrating the nation

Tuesday, February 26, 2013



Ben Affleck's Iranian hostage drama 'Argo' won the Best Picture Oscar while Ang Lee pulled off a big surprise by taking home the Best Director trophy for 'Life of Pi' at the 85th Academy Awards.

British actor Daniel Day-Lewis, 55, scored a historic third Best Actor Oscar for his turn as the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's civil-war set drama 'Lincoln'.

He has become the first actor to win the most number of Best Actor Oscars. His previous Oscars were for 'My Left Foot' in 1989 and 'There Will Be Blood' in 2007.

22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence emerged a winner for 'Silver Linings Playbook' in a tight best actress race by tripping strong contenders like Jessica Chastain, Emmanuelle Riva, Naomi Watts and Quvenzhane Wallis.

'Argo' saw off tough competition from eight other films --including 'Lincoln', 'Life of Pi', 'Amour', 'Django Unchained' and 'Zero Dark Thirty'-- to walk away with the top award.

'Argo' was declared a winner by Jack Nicholson and First Lady Michelle Obama, who tuned in through a videolink, making an unprecedented appearance from White House in a shimmery silver gown.

The film, based on real incidents, narrates the near impossible escape story when CIA pulled out six US diplomats from Iranin 1979 by posing as a fake film crew.

List of Oscar Winners from the 2013 Academy Awards:

1. Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained."

2. Animated Short Film: "Paperman."

3. Animated Feature Film: "Brave."

4. Cinematography: "Life of Pi."

5. Visual Effects: "Life of Pi."

6. Costume: "Anna Karenina."

7. Makeup and Hairstyling: "Les Miserables."

8. Live Action Short Film: "Curfew."

9. Documentary (short subject): "Inocente."

10. Documentary: "Searching For Sugar Man."

11. Foreign Language Film: "Amour."

12. Sound Mixing: "Les Miserables."

13. Sound Editing (TIE): "Skyfall," "Zero Dark Thirty."

14. Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables."

15. Editing: "Argo."

16. Production Design: "Lincoln."

17. Score: "Life of Pi."

18. Song: Adele, "Skyfall."

19. Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio, "Argo."

20. Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained."

21. Director: Ang Lee, "Life of Pi."

22. Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook."

23. Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln."

24. Picture: "Argo."