The Minister of Railways, Dinesh Trivedi, presented the Railways Budget 2012 to Parliament on 14th March. While commenting on the financial position of Railways, the Minister said that 'the Indian Railways are passing through a difficult phase'. The Operating Ratio for the closing year is now estimated to equal 95%. This is significantly higher than the 91.1% figure budgeted last year. Operating Ratio is a metric that compares operating expenses to revenues. A higher ratio indicates lower ability to generate surplus. Surplus is used for capital investments such as laying of new lines, deploying more coaches etc. Therefore, a smaller surplus affects the Railway’s capability to make such investments. Budget v/s Revised estimates 2011-12 Budget 2011-12 had estimated the performance of Railways for the financial year. Revised estimates have now been submitted. Taken together, these two figures help in comparing actual performance against targets. Some observations are enumerated below:
Budget estimates 2012-13 In 2012-13, Railways plan to improve Operating Ratio to 84.9% and to increase surplus to Rs 15,557 crore. This is more than 10 times the surplus generated in 2011-12 (Revised Estimates). The effective increase in freight rates is estimated to average 23%. During this time, passenger fares are also estimated to increase by an effective average rate of 19%.  Infrastructure Performance during the 11th Plan Under the 11th Five Year Plan, the total plan expenditure for Railways had been approved at Rs 2,33,289 crore. The Outcome Budget shows that the actual expenditure is only likely to be Rs 1,92,291 crore. Thus, expenditure will fall short by Rs 40,998 crore. This gaps exists despite a significant increase in the Gross Budgetary Support approved by Parliament. Plan expenditure during 2007-12 (In Rs Crore)
|Gross Budgetary Support
|Extra Budgetary Support
The Standing Committee on Railways, in its 11th report presented in August 2011, had sought an explanation from the Ministry. According to the Ministry, lower mobilization of internal resources and lack of extra budgetary support are the main reasons for the shortfall. Internal resource mobilization has been low because of (i) impact of the 6th Pay Commission; and (ii) slow growth in freight earnings due to the economic slowdown. Extra budgetary resources have been low due to non-materialization of funds through the Public-Private Partnership route. Proposals for the 12th Plan Two recent committees – Kakodkar Committee on Railway Safety and the Pitroda Committee on Railway Modernization – have called for large investments in the next five years. The Kakodkar Committee has recommended an investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore in the next five years to improve safety; the Pitroda Committee has recommended an expenditure of Rs 3,96,000 crore in the next five years on modernization. The Railway sub-group of the 12th Five Year Plan has also estimated a requirement of Rs 4,42,744 crore for various other investments proposed to be undertaken during the Plan period.  All three groups have called for significant investments in infrastructure augmentation in the next five years. Budget proposals 2012-13 According to the Minister’s speech, the Annual Plan outlay for the year 2012-13 has been set at Rs 60,100 crore. The plan would be financed through:
What happens now? The Budget is likely to be discussed in the two Houses within the next few days. Post the discussion, the Ministry's proposals will be put to vote. Once passed, the Ministry can put its proposals into action. For more details on the Railway Budget, including the projects proposed this year and the status of proposals made last year, please see our analysis here. To understand some of the challenges faced by the Indian Railways, see our blog post from last year. Notes:  The ‘effective average fare’ has been calculated by dividing the total income from the segment (freight/ passenger) by the total traffic (in NTKM/ PKM). This would vary with changes in fares as well as the usage by different categories of users (including the proportion of tickets booked through Tatkal).  Source: Report of the Expert Group on Railway Modernization (Chairman: Sam Pitroda)
On June 13, 2022, the West Bengal government passed a Bill to replace the Governor with the Chief Minister, as the Chancellor of 31 state public universities (such as Calcutta University, Jadavpur University). As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (2019-20), state public universities provide higher education to almost 85% of all students enrolled in higher education in India. In this blog, we discuss the role of the Governor in state public universities.
What is the role of the Chancellor in public universities?
State public universities are established through laws passed by state legislatures. In most laws the Governor has been designated as the Chancellor of these universities. The Chancellor functions as the head of public universities, and appoints the Vice-Chancellor of the university. Further, the Chancellor can declare invalid, any university proceeding which is not as per existing laws. In some states (such as Bihar, Gujarat, and Jharkhand), the Chancellor has the power to conduct inspections in the university. The Chancellor also presides over the convocation of the university, and confirms proposals for conferring honorary degrees. This is different in Telangana, where the Chancellor is appointed by the state government.
The Chancellor presides over the meetings of various university bodies (such as the Court/Senate of the university). The Court/Senate decides on matters of general policy related to the development of the university, such as: (i) establishing new university departments, (ii) conferring and withdrawing degrees and titles, and (iii) instituting fellowships.
The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 designates the Chief Minister of West Bengal as the Chancellor of the 31 public universities in the state. Further, the Chief Minister (instead of the Governor) will be the head of these universities, and preside over the meetings of university bodies (such as Court/Senate).
Does the Governor have discretion in his capacity as Chancellor?
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that the Governor was not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, while discharging duties of a separate statutory office (such as the Chancellor).
The Sarkaria and Puunchi Commission also dealt with the role of the Governor in educational institutions. Both Commissions concurred that while discharging statutory functions, the Governor is not legally bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. However, it may be advantageous for the Governor to consult the concerned Minister. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that state legislatures should avoid conferring statutory powers on the Governor, which were not envisaged by the Constitution. The Puunchi Commission observed that the role of Governor as the Chancellor may expose the office to controversies or public criticism. Hence, the role of the Governor should be restricted to constitutional provisions only. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 also mentions this recommendation given by the Puunchi Commission.
Recently, some states have taken steps to reduce the oversight of the Governor in state public universities. In April 2022, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed two Bills, to transfer the power of appointing the Vice-Chancellor (in public universities) from the Governor, to the state government. As of June 8, 2022, these Bills have not received the Governor’s assent.
In 2021, Maharashtra amended the process to appoint the Vice Chancellor of state public universities. Prior to the amendment, a Search Committee forwarded a panel of at least five names to the Chancellor (who is the Governor). The Chancellor could then appoint one of the persons from the suggested panel as Vice-Chancellor, or ask for a fresh panel of names to be recommended. The 2021 amendment mandated the Search Committee to first forward the panel of names to the state government, which would recommend a panel of two names (from the original panel) to the Chancellor. The Chancellor must appoint one of the two names from the panel as Vice-Chancellor within thirty days. As per the amendment, the Chancellor has no option of asking for a fresh panel of names to be recommended.