Feel The Pinch

Imprint article #1 - Union Budget 2013
Took time to release it cuz I had to first wait for it to release on print and then later I couldn't find time to upload it... Anyway, here it is! :D

The newspapers for the last week have had a lot to say about the Union Budget 2013 presented by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. What can we, as students, derive from the clamour over the budget draft being “unimaginative”, “dull”, “too cautious” and whatnot? Well, for starters, the budget is again going to affect only the middle class the greatest. Instead of concentrating their taxes and duties on the upper middle and the upper classes, the government chooses to levy extra charges on smartphones, set-top boxes, vehicles and air-conditioned restaurants, thereby eating into the middle class wage-earner’s purse. That’s goodbye to that new phone you were checking out on flipkart. So if your phone’s display is gone or you just wanted to change your phone because you’ve had it since Alexander Graham Bell, go get that spare phone from home and dust off the cobwebs!

Speaking of going home, this year’s annual railway budget was proposed by Pawan Kumar Bansal, Union Minister for Railways on February 26, 2013. The budget holds promise for all those seeking to enjoy better amenities aboard the Indian Railways. However, according to ex-minister for railways, Dinesh Trivedi, the current minister hasn’t made any mark despite having been presented the opportunity to do so. What has all this got to do with us here at SASTRA? Well, for starters, we can keep our fingers crossed and hope that all those trains departing from Trichy Junction and Thanjavur are installed with Wi-Fi and double-decker coaches! They probably will increase the train fares by a rupee or two to meet the 2013-14 target of Rs. 12,506 crore but it’s not worthless. And for all those paranoid parents out there, the railway budget includes an increased presence of female Railway Police personnel. So open irctc.co.in and make a booking to go home (safe).

Thinking over the gruesome process of booking a train ticket on IRCTC? Apparently, the e-ticketing system will be strengthened to hasten the booking process. And now, the Indian Railways also plans on rolling out facilities for making bookings on mobile phones itself and to bring in SMS alerts to keep the passengers updated regarding their reservation statuses. You’ll still have to make your bookings through the legendary SASTRA Wi-Fi facility but now you know who’s not responsible for your sleepless nights. Given all the proposals that could make travel by train more luxurious than it is now, the Indian Railways’ expectations of 5.2% growth in passenger traffic this year might be amply met.

The Union budget also provides Rs. 500 crore for the rehabilitation of “project-affected” people in and around the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam. Well, this means two things, firstly, the PMANE might reconsider their stance and secondly, there might be a chance that the 12-hour power cuts in Tirumalaisamudram might become lesser, or even better, we might get uninterrupted power supply! Also, besides nuclear energy, the budget gives incentives for harvesting wind energy. So now we might not have to stay in class for the sole reason that there is no power in the hostels.

We could take a stroll out of campus and chill out at the tea stalls opposite the entrance. Also, for all those stealing in a cigarette or two into the hostels, or warming up beside the tea stalls outside campus, they’re going to be costlier soon because of an additional excise of 18% on cigarettes, cigars and all their sisters. Whether this move is aimed at increasing the government’s income or to deter people from smoking citing health reasons, it might make chain-smokers who are daily wage workers think before buying a pack or two.
On the whole, the budget seems to be a bit of a purse-pincher, what with increased taxes and dues on many retail products and services. However, as Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh said, regarding this year’s budget, it certainly is a good balancing act. Some may choose to look at this move as taking care not to tread on voters’ feet with election year up ahead and others (in UPA-II) may choose to believe that this was the best thought-out budget in the history of India because of its inclusive nature.

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