British Railways to Prabhu’s Budget: A Look Back


British Railways to Prabhu's Budget: A Complete Look Back

 The history of Rail Transport in India began in the mid-nineteenth century. But the first Rail Budget came in the third decade of twentieth century.

Indian Railways is an Indian state-owned enterprise, owned and operated by the Government of India through the Ministry of Railways. It is one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km with 7,172 stations. Now it carries 2 crore 30 lakh passengers daily. Indian Railways is the world’s seventh largest commercial or utility employer, by number of employees, with more than 13 million employees.

Railways were first introduced to India in the year 1853 from Bombay to Thane. In 1951 the systems were nationalized as one unit, the Indian Railways, becoming one of the largest networks in the world. Its operations in the twenty nine states and seven union territories and also provides limited international services to Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

After the recommendation of the 10 member-Acworth Committee in 1920-21, headed by British railway economist William Acworth the railway finances of India were separated from the general government finances in 1924. A practice which continues even in independent India till date. Rail Budget is the Annual Financial Statement of the State Indian Railways, which handles rail transport in India. It is presented every year by the Minister of Railways. Every year this Union Budget is presented in the Parliament in last day of February and Rail Budget is presented two days before the Union budget of India. But the scenario is somewhat different in the Lok sabha election year. In that particular yr=ear, the Rail Budget is presented two times. The first one being ‘Interim Rail Budget’ which is placed in the House before the election. And the final Rail Budget is placed by the new Govt’s Railway Minister after the declaration of the Election Result.,

John Mathai presented the first rail budget of Independent India.

Lal Bahadur Shastri , who in his later life became the Prime Minister of India, was in the charge of railways during 1952-1956. He resigned from the post taking responsibility for three fatal railway accidents and such resignation is considered as an example of morality in the political field. Shastri presented 5 rail budgets including one interim.

Bubu Jagjiban Ram had presented maximum number of rail budget. During 1956-62 he presented 7times rail budget including interim budget .

 Rail Minister killed in station

L N Mishra was the first Cabinet minister to be assassinated in Independent India. Mishra, was killed and 25 injured in the blast during inauguration of the Samastipur-Muzaffarpur broad gauge line on January 2, 1975.On very next day he was dead.

Live telecast of rail budget

First live telecast of railway budget took place on 24 March 1994.

Rail Minister both in NDA & UPA

In the year 2000, Mamata Banerjee as a first women Railway Minister of India presented a rail budget. Another significant point is that she being the only women who presented the railway budget for two different governments in the centre (NDA and UPA).

Losing ministry after Rail Budget

In the year 2012, TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee had ordered Mukul Roy to replace Dinesh Trivedi as the Rail Minister after Dinesh presented the Railway budget.

Last rail budget

Sadananda Gowda was sworn in as a cabinet minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s newly elected government. He got the portfolio of Railways and he presented last rail budget on 8 July 2014. But later he was shifted from Railways ministry to   law and Justice after cabinet reshuffle on 9 November 2014. Now Suresh Prabhu, who is a Chartered Accountant by profession,is in the charge of railways and on 26 Feb he will present rail budget this year.

-A report by Siddhartha Mukhopadhyay