Things I would change, if I was govt of india
Almost everyday, I am disappointed with the state of affair in India. The current government has failed its people, and does not seem to be doing anything to help India grow and prosper. Actually, there has been no positive, forward looking changes moved by the UPA government.
India need changes, and a lot of them. One or two changes is not going to help enough. We need a lot of changes, in addressing the common man’s problems.
I am no expert in this field, however, I have some imagination and basic common sense, using which I would like to propose a few changes that I would like to see.
1. Petrol Prices:
I start with this, as this seems to be the hottest topic around.
We know the petrol prices fluctuate based on the international crude prices, and also the value of INR vs USD. In a recent debate in the parliament, the finance minister said ” Price without tax – I am taking Delhi city – per litre of petrol price would be Rs 39, diesel would be Rs 33.51, kerosene would be Rs 14.12. For kerosene, there is hardly any tax. The Central government does not have any tax. Some states have some tax, that is 4.8%; but Centre has no tax. If the excise duty, customs duty and state VAT taken together, it comes to Rs 26.55″
Now lets take a perspective here, the taxes levied on fuel is in terms of percentage. So as the crude prices increases or value of INR decreases, the tax also increases.
- Will it not be appropriate to charge a fixed price when it comes to excise duty, customs duty and VAT?
- Why is the government trying to charge more to the customers, when the input prices go up?
Fix excise duty, custom duty and VAT on per litre and not vary them with varying input prices. 10 years ago, the government was happy with a lower amount per litre. It will be safe to say, the petrol consumption has gone up. So the collection on consumption will increase as the consumption goes up. I do not think, the cost involved in running the govt, changes with the input price fluctuation.
Using common sense, I would say this is wrong policy. To regulate the prices, the government fixes the price, and almost every time, the oil companies take a hit at their end. When the hit is too high, government declares a subsidy for them, and there-by tries to keep it running. This is so not correct.
2. Infrastructure: Airplanes vs Train
Aping the west, we are trying to create world class airports. However, India is a train economy. Check the bookings of train tickets and most of the trains will be full 2 months in advance.
Looking deeper, the actual reason for trains to run full is not just the cost. Cost is certainly one aspect of it. The most important factor is, people board and get down at numerous stations in between.
- Will it not be right to focus on building a network of High Speed Trains then?
- Reduce the commute time between places for most of the people, rather than just focusing on major cities?
Lets, take an example of a network of HST(high speed train) connecting the 6-10 major cities in India. May be a golden quadrilateral of HST and a North-South and East-West Corridor.
The total stretch covers about 5800 kms(abt 3600 miles), 13 states and 72 important cities.
The average cost of new HST is put between $40m to $80m per mile. Taking the rate as $60m per mile, the total cost of the project will come around 12 lakh crores.
However, the average cost has been arrived in developed countries, and we know the labor rates and other prices are very high in those countries. So, it is highly likely, that the cost would be quite less than the above figures. It might cost 3-4 times less than the above figure.
With the cost amortized in 20 years or 25 years, the project looks very viable.
Another way of implementing this will be to create new lines for freight trains and slow local trains. Strengthen the existing lines, and make it ready to support the high speed trains. The cost for this would be a fraction of putting new lines for HST.
A Mumbai-Delhi journey by train takes about 15 hours today via Rajdhani. If HST is implemented, the journey time will be reduced by half, to just 7 hours. With an average speed of 200 km/hr, the train can make about 6 stops in between, at an average interval of 1 hour each.
The actual travel time now is nearly the same. With check in 2 hours in advance, flight time of 2 hours, delays and travel time to actual destination, it would come to 6 hours easily.
People not staying in the metros and the major cities, or traveling from one smaller city to another, will benefit the most.
3. Infrastructure: Focus on creating new cities
The focus on growing the existing cities and moving things to suburbs have resulted in over crowded cities and horrible traffic. Rather than trying and expanding cities and making it bigger, focus should be on creating new cities with advance systems.
The cities may not be as big or have as many people as the metros. It needs to planned properly and made in such a way, that the living condition is improved, cost is reduced and at the same time is environment friendly.
The last planned city were Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh. And it has been more than 60 years.
Creating planned cities with HST, will just might make life easier and better for many.
Although the license raj is over, still every common man suffers a lot for getting things done. Thanks to the age old bureaucracy.
Mention any common man that he has to go to a government office to get some work done, and check his reaction.
Starting a business of your own is a crime. You have to maintain and submit so many documents, taxes and reports, that you can not do it alone. With so many regulations in place, it is very easy for the babus, to find hole in your business. This either gives them the ammunition to stall your deal, or take bribe to pass it smoothly.
Having started a new business, what you would like to do is focus 100% on your business. But, the government ensures you not to focus on business, but give your time in preparing all the reports and filings and policies.
This also goes for land registrations, buying a car/bike and even ration card. The policy has been made with the view to torture the public, so that they do not come asking for the work to be done.
What exactly needs to be changed in the system is difficult to point. It appears as the entire system is outdated and needs to be changed/modified.
This is yet another system, which is following the laws established 100 years ago by the British.
Hence, we see loads of cases pending for hearing, and those which are being heard, being delayed for years together.
Many of the cases can and should be settled by a Lok Justice System. These could be used for petty cases and fast tracked. Prominent public personalities or retired individuals should be asked to come for jury duty and hear cases.
One thing which I fail to understand is,
- Why do we need a lawyer, to represent us. We are seeking justice for self.
- Why use a third party person to represent us, and we in return have to give him money to get us justice. How nice a system is that?
This has resulted in many people being able to take advantage of those people, who can not afford to fight a case in the court, either for the delay in the system or for the lawyer fees.
The purpose of the government should be to make the life of people easy and better, without distinguishing between caste, creed or color. However, it appears, all the policies and systems are put in place to make life difficult for the people. And almost everyday, everyone tried to do just one thing, divide the public in the name of caste, creed, sex or color.
If I am in a position to make policies and rules for India, these would be my priority. I am sure there are many other issues and problems. However, my believe is, change has to be brought in to achieve a greater good.
Successful entrepreneurs should be taking up politics and focusing on addressing this issue. For the simple reason, entrepreneurs are best suited to solve the problem. Entrepreneurs just can not stay away, when they see a problem. They are problem solvers or solution finders.