India's railway budget adds a few more concessions to the already staggering list of exceptions and dispensations. "Unemployed youth for interview", I found out today, travel free. A "circus artist" pays half-price, as does a polo team for some reason – you'd think they could afford the ticket. Perhaps the difference is made up on the horse boxes. If you have heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, leprosy, TB, thalassemia or haemophilia – or can treat them – you never pay more than half the fare and often not more than quarter. AIDS was added to the list today.
Passenger fares have been reduced this year and by a fair amount. (Or at least so it seems. I struggle to decipher the economic-speak and have to wait for tomorrow's newspapers to translate it.) How do they make the profit? I wish I knew more about these things.
The railway minister's speech is a delight. I have said it before in the teeth of outcry from my compatriot friends and I will say it again: If this man stood for Prime Minister, I would get on a plane to vote for him. Including the mannerisms, the studied rusticity and the turn for the (tongue-in-cheek, possibly) devoutly dramatic.
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