Railway Budget 2016-17:-
Theme of the Budget:-
- Overcoming challenges – Reorganize, Restructure Rejuvenate Indian Railways: ‘Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen’
- Three pillars of the strategy i.e. Nav Arjan – New revenues, Nav Manak – New norms, Nav Sanrachna – New Structures
- 2015-16- Savings of Rs. 8,720 crore neutralizing most of the revenue shortfall,expected OR 90%;
- 2016-17- Targeted Operating Ratio (OR) – 92%, restrict growth of Ordinary Working Expenses by 11.6% after building in immediate impact of 7th PC, reductions planned in diesel and electricity consumption, Revenue generation targeted at Rs. 1,84,820 crore.
Investments and Resources:-
- Process bottlenecks overhauled including delegation of powers to functional levels; average capital expenditure over 2009-14 is Rs. 48,100 crore, average growth of 8% per annum.
- 2015-16 investment would be close to double of the average of previous 5 years
- 2016-17 CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) pegged at Rs. 1.21 lakh crore; implementation through joint ventures with states, developing new frameworks for PPP, etc
- By 2020, long-felt desires of the common man to be fulfilled i.e, reserved accommodation on trains available on demand, time tabled freight trains, high end technology to improve safety record, elimination of all unmanned level crossings, improved punctuality, higher average speed of freight trains, semi high speed trains running along the golden quadrilateral, zero direct discharge of human waste.
Dedicated Freight Corridor:-
- Almost all contracts for civil engineering works to be awarded by March 31st 2016; Rs. 24,000 crore contracts awarded since November 2014 as against Rs. 13,000 crore contracts awarded in last 6 years; propose to take up North-South, East-West & East Coast freight corridors through innovative financing including PPP
- Tuna Port commissioned and rail connectivity projects to ports of Jaigarh, Dighi, Rewas and Paradip under implementation; implementation of rail connectivity for the ports of Nargol and Hazira under PPP in 2016-17.
- BG Lumding-Silchar section in Assam opened thus connecting Barak Valley with rest of the country; Agartala brought on to the BG network. States of Mizoram and Manipur shortly to come on BG map of the country with commissioning of the Kathakal-Bhairabi and Arunachal-Jiribam Gauge Conversion projects
Jammu and Kashmir:-
- Work on Katra-Banihal section of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project progressing satisfactorily- 35 kms of tunnelling out of total of 95 kms completed; Decongestion work on Jalandhar – Jammu line in full swing and doubling of two bridges to be commissioned by March 2016, while the other two bridges will be completed by 2016-17.
Make in India:–
- Finalised bids for two loco factories; proposed to increase the current procurement of train sets by 30%.
Capacity Building for the future through:-
- Transparency – initiated recruitments online in 2015-16, process now being replicated for all positions, social media being used as a tool to bring in transparency, all procurement including procurement of works moved to the e-platform, completed trial of process leading to award of tender electronically and to be rolled out on a Pan- India basis in 2016-17.
- Governance – delegation led to compression of project sanction time to 6-8 months from 2 years earlier, key result areas identified to judge performance of GMs and DRMs, performance related MOUs signed with few Zones, to be replicated for all zones.
- Internal audit measures – specialised teams mandated to screen railway operations in specific areas to detect inefficiencies and prevent wastages, every zone preparing 2 reports by March 31, 2016.
- Partnerships – Cabinet approval for JVs with State Governments, 17 consented and 6 MOUs signed with State Governments. 44 new partnership works covering about 5,300 kms and valuing about Rs. 92,714 crore have been indicated in the Budget documents.
- Interaction and feedback through social media & dedicated IVRS system.
- Making travel comfortable by generating over 65,000 additional berths, installing 2,500 water vending machines; introducing ‘Mahamana Express’ with modern refurbished coaches; 17,000 bio-toilets in trains; world’s first Bio-Vacuum toilet developed.
- Improving punctuality – operations audit for Ghaziabad to Mughalsarai section
- Ticketing: Introduced 1,780 Automatic Ticket Vending Machines, mobile apps & GoIndia smartcard for cashless purchase of UTS and PRS tickets, enhanced capacity of e-ticketing system from 2,000 tickets per minute to 7,200 tickets per minute and to support 1,20,000 concurrent users as against only 40,000 earlier .
- Social initiatives: One-time registration for availing concessions while booking tickets online, online booking of wheelchairs & Braille enabled new coaches introduced for the Divyang, increased quota of lower berths for senior citizens and women, middle bays reserved in coaches for women
- Wi-Fi provided in 100 stations, to be provided in 400 more
- Stations being redeveloped – financial bid received for Habibganj, Bhopal; Cabinet approval for stations to be taken up under PPP
- Security through helplines & CCTVs.
- Safety – 350 manned level crossings closed, eliminated 1,000 unmanned level crossings, 820 ROB/RUB completed in the current year and work going on in 1,350 of them.
Other major achievements:-
- Energy: annualized savings of Rs. 3,000 crore to be achieved in the next financial year itself, a year earlier than announced; achieved by procuring power directly at competitive rates using IR’s status as Deemed Distribution Licensee.
- Rail University – initially identified the National Academy of Indian Railways at Vadodara.
- Digital India: application of Track Management System (TMS) launched, inventory management module of TMS has resulted in inventory reduction by 27,000 MT resulting in saving of Rs.64 crore and scrap identification of 22,000 MT equivalent to Rs.53 crore
The Way Ahead:-
Improving quality of travel:-
- For the unreserved passenger –
- Antyodaya Express unreserved, superfast service
- Deen Dayalu coaches – unreserved coaches with potable water and higher number of mobile charging points
- For the reserved passenger –
- Humsafar – fully air-conditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals
- Tejas – will showcase the future of train travel in India. Will operate at speeds of 130 kmph and above.Will offer on-board services such as entertainment, local cuisine, Wi-Fi, etc. through one service provider for ensuring accountability and improved customer satisfaction
- Humsafar and Tejas to ensure cost recovery through tariff and non-tariff measures
- UDAY – overnight double-decker, Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri Express on the busiest routes, has the potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40%.
- Ticketing:Sale of tickets through hand held terminals; e- ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards; bar coded tickets, scanners and access control on a pilot basis. Expansion of Vikalp – train on demand to provide choice of accommodation in specific trains to wait.listed passengers. E-booking of tickets facility on the concessional passes available to journalists; facility of cancellation through the 139 helpline post verification using ‘One Time Password’ sent on registered phone number, to improve tatkaal services CCTV cameras on windows and periodic audit of PRS website
- Cleanliness –‘Clean my Coach’ service through SMS, ranking of A1 and A stations based on periodic third party audit and passenger feedback; waste segregation and recycling centres; ‘Awareness campaigns’; additional 30,000 bio-toilets; providing portable structures with biotoilets at all platforms of select stations for senior citizens, Divyang and women travellers, plan to explore innovative means of providing and maintaining toilets such as advertisement rights, CSR, voluntary support from social organizations
- Catering and stalls at stations -IRCTC to manage catering services in a phased manner; explore possibility of making catering services optional, adding 10 more IRCTC operated base kitchens; to build local ownership and empowerment, weightage will be given to district domicile holders for commercial licenses at stations.
- Stoppages: convert all operational halts into commercial halts for the benefit of the common man.
- Rail Mitra Sewa: expanding Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railway to help the old and disabled passengers, strengthening the existing services for enabling passengers to book battery operated cars, porter services, etc. on a paid basis in addition to the existing pick up and drop, and wheel chair services
- Measures for Divyang: all stations under redevelopment accessible by Divyang; to provide at least one Divyang friendly toilet at each platform in A1 class stations during the next financial year and also ensure availability of wheelchairs in sufficient numbers at these stations.
- Travel Insurance to passengers – to offer optional travel insurance for rail journeys at the time of booking.
- Janani sewa: children’s menu items on trains, baby foods, hot milk and hot water would be made available
- SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) Coaches – design and layout of our coaches to ensure higher carrying capacity and provision of new amenities including automatic doors, bar-code readers, bio-vacuum toilets, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, improved aesthetics, vending machines, entertainment screens, LED lit boards for advertising, PA system
- Mobile Apps – integrate all facilities into two mobile apps dealing with ticketing issues and for receipt and redressal of complaints and suggestions.
- Improving customer interface- skilling our front-end staff and those we employ through our service providers, information boards in trains enumerating the on-board services and also GPS based digital displays inside coaches to provide real time information regarding upcoming halts. Work underway on installation of a high-tech centralized network of 20,000 screens across 2000 stations for enabling real time flow of information to passengers and also unlock huge advertising potential. All A1 class stations will be manned with duly empowered Station Directors supported by cross functional teams; to make one person accountable for all facilities on trains.
- Pilgrimage centres: to take up on priority the provision of passenger amenities and beautification on stations at pilgrimage centres including Ajmer, Amritsar, Bihar Sharif, Chengannur, Dwarka, Gaya, Haridwar, Mathura, Nagapattinam, Nanded, Nasik, Pali, Parasnath, Puri, Tirupati, Vailankanni, Varanasi and Vasco; also intend to run Aastha circuit trains to connect important pilgrim centres.
- High Speed Rail: passenger corridor from Ahmedabad to Mumbai being undertaken with the assistance of the Government of Japan. SPV for implementing high speed projects will be registered this month. Prime benefit would be providing IR with technology advancements and new manufacturing capability
- Entertainment: propose to invite FM Radio stations for providing train borne entertainment; extend ‘Rail Bandhu’ to all reserved classes of travelers and in all regional languages
- Rail Development Authority:-To enable fair pricing of services, promote competition, protect customer interests and determine efficiency standards; draft bill to be ready after holding extensive stakeholder consultations
Undertaking Navarambh – a new beginning:-
1)Navinikaran – Structural Interventions
Organisational Restructuring- proposed to reorganize the Railway Board along business lines and suitably empower Chairman, Railway Board. As a first step, cross functional directorates to be set up in Railway Board to focus on areas like non-fare revenues, speed enhancement, motive power and information technology; explore the possibility of unifying cadres for fresh recruitment of officers; strengthen PPP cell to improve ease of doing business with IR.
2)Sashaktikaran – Improving our planning practices
To set up a Railway Planning & Investment Organisation for drafting medium (5 years) and long (10 years) term corporate plans; identify projects which fulfill the corporate goal. Prepare a National Rail Plan to harmonise and integrate the rail network with other modes of transport and create synergy for achieving seamless multi-modal transportation network across the country.
Consolidation: Forming a holding company of companies owned by IR
4)Shodh aur vikas –
Investing in the future: to set up a R&D organization, a Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology & Holistic Advancement, SRESTHA. RDSO will now focus only on day to day issues while SRESTHA would drive long term research.
Analyzing data: a dedicated, cross functional team called Special Unit for Transportation Research and Analytics (SUTRA) would be set up for carrying out detailed analytics leading to optimized investment decisions and operations
Innovation: by setting aside a sum of Rs. 50 crore for providing innovation grants to employees, startups and small businesses
Avataran – Seven Missions for the transformation of IR
- Mission Zero Accident for safety
- Mission PACE (Procurement and Consumption Efficiency)
- Mission Raftaar for higher speeds
- Mission Hundred for commissioning 100 sidings/ freight terminals
- Mission beyond book-keeping for accounting reforms
- Mission Capacity Utilisation to prepare a blueprint for making use of the capacity created once DFC is commissioned
- Mission 25 Tonne for 25 tonne axle load
Sustainability and Social Initiatives: Human Resources/ Skilling, Social initiatives,Environment
- To tie up with the Ministry of Health for ensuring an exchange between Railways hospitals and Government hospitals; to introduce ‘AYUSH’ systems in 5 Railway hospitals; provide gang men with devices called ‘Rakshak’ for intimating them about approaching trains, also reduce the weight of the tools carried by them while patrolling. To provide toilets and air-conditioning in cabs for our loco pilots
- Set up two chairs – one C T Venugopal chair on Strategic Finance, research and policy development and another Kalpana Chawla chair on geo-spatial technology.
- For youth – open our organisation to 100 students across Engineering and MBA schools for 2-6 months’ internships each year
- Partnering with Ministry of Skill Development – skill development on IR premises.
- Undertaken energy audits for reducing energy consumption in non-traction area by 10% to 15% – all new light provisions will be LED luminaire and all Railway stations
to be covered with LED luminaire in next 2 to 3 years
- Action plan drawn up for environmental accreditation, water management and waste to energy conversion. More than 2,000 locations provided with Rain Water Harvesting facility. In place of steel sleepers on steel bridges environmentally friendly composite sleepers made of recycled plastic waste will be used over all girder bridges.
- 32 stations and 10 coaching depots have been identified for installation of water recycling plants in the coming years
- Partnering with State Governments for operating tourist circuit trains; recent upgradation of National Rail Museum, promotion of tourism through Railway museums and UNESCO world heritage Railways
- To spread awareness about our National Animal, the Tiger, complete packages including train journey, safaris and accommodation to cover the wildlife circuit comprising Kanha, Pench and Bandhavgarh will be offered.
3 Strategic Pillars:-
A) Nav Arjan – New revenues: IR typically has focused on increasing revenues through tariff hikes. We want to change that and challenge our conventional thinking on freight policies to win back our share in the transportation sector. We will exploit new sources of revenue so that every asset, tangible or non-tangible, gets optimally monetized.
B) Nav Manak – New norms: Each rupee that gets expensed will be re-examined to ensure optimal productivity. We will take a ‘zerobased budgeting’ approach to the financials of the ensuing year. We will improve our efficiency yardsticks and procurement practices to bring them in line with international best practices. We will continue to innovate and optimise our outgo on each activity.
C) Nav Sanrachna – New Structures: We need to Re-imagine the conventional ways of solving issues. Co-operation, Collaboration, Creativity and Communication should be the hallmark of our decision-making and actions. We will revisit all processes, rules, and structures to enable this transformation of IR. We will draw upon our inherent strengths, diverse talents and rich experience to emerge stronger.
A Summary Snapshot
|1||No hike in passenger fares.|
|2||Action has been initiated on 139 budget announcements made last year.|
|3||Eliminate all unmanned level crossings by 2020.|
|4||Swacch Bharat: 17000 biotoilets and additional toilets in 475 stations before the close of this financial year.|
|5||Increased quota for senior citizens and women travellers this year.|
|6||Wifi at 100 stations this year and 400 stations next year.|
|7||Enhanced capacity of e-ticketing system from 2,000 tickets/min to 7,200/min. Supporting 1.2 lakh concurrent users now, as opposed to 40,000 earlier.|
|8||All major stations to be brought under CCTV surveillance in a phased manner.|
|9||Deen Dayal coaches for long distance trains for unreserved passengers. These coaches will include potable water and higher number of mobile charging points.|
|10||IRCTC to manage catering service in phased manner. Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers.|
|11||Cleaning of toilets by requests through SMS.|
|12||Children’s menu, baby foods, baby boards to be made available for travelling mothers.|
|13||GPS-based digital display in coaches for showing upcoming stations.|
|14||Will open cancellation facility through 139 helpline number.|
|15||Introduce bar-coded tickets on pilot basis to tackle menace of ticketless travel.|
Amrut Mahotsav and the Targets:-
The year 2022 will be the Amrut Mahotsav, the 75th year, of India’s independence.
(i) A roof for each family in India. The call given for ‘Housing for all’ by 2022 would require 2 crore houses in urban areas and 4 crore houses in rural areas.
(ii) Each house in the country should have basic facilities of 24-hour power supply, clean drinking water, a toilet, and be connected to a road.
(iii) At least one member from each family should have access to the means for livelihood and, employment or economic opportunity, to improve his or her lot.
(iv) Substantial reduction of poverty and eliminating absolute poverty.
(v) Electrification, by 2020, of the remaining 20,000 villages in the country, including by off-grid solar power generation.
(vi) Connecting each of the 1,78,000 unconnected habitations by all weather roads. This will require completing 1,00,000 km of roads currently under construction plus sanctioning and building another 1,00,000 km of road.
(vii) Good health is a necessity for both quality of life, and a person’s productivity and ability to support his or her family. Providing medical services in each village and city is absolutely essential.
(viii) Educating and skilling our youth to enable them to get employment is the altar before which we must all bow. To ensure that there is a senior secondary school within 5 km reach of each child, we need to upgrade over 80,000 secondary schools and add or upgrade 75,000 junior/middle, to the senior secondary level. Also to ensure that education improves in terms of quality and learning outcomes.
(ix) Increase in agricultural productivity and realization of reasonable prices for agricultural production is essential for the welfare of rural areas. Commitment to increasing the irrigated area, improving the efficiency of existing irrigation systems, promoting agro-based industry for value addition and increasing farm incomes, and reasonable prices for farm produce.
(x) In terms of communication, the rural and urban divide should no longer be acceptable . To ensure connectivity to all the villages without it.
(xi) Two-thirds of our population is below 35. To ensure that our young get proper jobs, we have to aim to make India the manufacturing hub of the world. The Skill India and the Make in India programmes are aimed at doing this.
(xii) To encourage and grow the spirit of entrepreneurship in India and support new start-ups. Thus can our youth turn from being job-seekers, to job-creators.
(xiii) The Eastern and North Eastern regions of our country are lagging behind in development on many fronts. Need to ensure that they are on par with the rest of the country.
Major Challenges Ahead:-
- Agricultural incomes are under stress
- Increasing investment in infrastructure
- Manufacturing and export is either stagnant of in decline
- Fiscal discipline in spite of rising demands for public investment
WTO rules against India’s domestic content requirements in solar power:-
World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel has struck a blow to India’s solar power programme, ruling that New Delhi violated global trade rules by imposing domestic content restrictions on the production of solar cells and modules as part of its National Solar Mission.
On February 11, 2014, the US had filed a second complaint against India and the second phase of its National Solar Mission at WTO. It said India’s programme violated trade agreements between the two countries by restricting US companies from doing business in India. The complaint alleged that the DCR mandate put into place by India discriminated against US exports and favoured Indian manufacturers of solar panels and cells.
Indian manufacturing capacity of solar cells and modules is limited to 1,386 MW and 2,756 MW respectively. The Mission’s target at the time of the complaint stood at 10,000 MW to be achieved in the period from 2013 to 2017. Since the solar target has been revised to 100,000 MW or 100 GW by the government, the target now stands at 29,000 MW.
In the second phase of the Mission, India announced three batches of solar power projects. In the first batch, 50 per cent of 750 MW was supposed to be under the category of DCR. In the second batch, the share came down to 33 per cent (500 MW out of a total allocation of 1,500 MW) and in Batch III, it was further reduced to 10 per cent (only 200 MW out of 2,000 MW under DCR).
Essentially, the entire tussle at WTO was over 1,075 MW (375 + 500 + 200) or just 0.37 per cent of the total solar target in the second phase. But when the petition was filed, it mentioned the 375 MW of solar power to be installed under DCR.
Under the previous government, India embarked on an ambitious solar power programme as part of the National Solar Mission, aimed at adding 100,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity by 2022. However, the local content requirement is only for 5,000 MW each of rooftop and land-based projects where the government provides a subsidy.
India’s commerce secretary, Rajeev Kher, alleged that the US itself is following restrictive policies for its local solar panel manufacturers in 13 of its own states by running a subsidy programme for local content requirement, primarily in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Minnesota.
Recently , The government has also scaled up its renewable energy target from 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2016-17 to 175GW by 2021-22, which could result in the abatement of 326.22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Of this 175GW, solar power will account for 100GW.
Domestic content requirement (DCR) was created in order to give a safe platform to the indigenous manufacturers so that the domestic manufacturing industry in its starting phase does not endure undue stress from global competition and assurance of market was ensured .
WTO itself recognises the concept of public procurement. It states, “Government agencies often purchase goods and services with public resources and for public purposes to fulfill their functions and sometimes to achieve other domestic policy goals, such as the promotion of specific local industry sectors or social groups. Such purchases are generally referred to as government/public procurement.”
However, it failed to recognise the Indian government’s paying of feed-in tariffs and viability gap funding (through public funding) for procuring power produced by indigeneously manufactured solar cells and modules as public procurement.
The next course of action could an appeal against the ruling.
Extreme rainfall not because of global factors: study
The blame for extreme rainfall in India, a recurrent phenomenon in some cities, cannot be laid squarely on global warming and the El-Nino effect, perhaps. A study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) reveals that such rainfall is influenced more by changes in conditions like local temperature and urbanization
The study was done by analyzing historically observed rainfall data, and land and sea surface temperatures for the period between 1969 and 2005 across 2,000 locations in the country. The researchers found that the intensity and the frequency of rainfall is highly influenced by changes in the local temperature.
The warming up of pacific waters is known as El-Nino Southern Oscillation. In fact studies also show that a strong El-Nino goes hand in hand with weak Indian monsoon, an indication of which was seen in 2015, when the rainfall was less than normal.
If El-Nino can affect one year’s rainfall, global climate change can influence the very seasonality of the rainfall. Interestingly, when it comes to intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall, local conditions have a stronger influence than the other two global factors.
El Niño means The Little Boy, or Christ Child in Spanish. El Niño was originally recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The name was chosen based on the time of year (around December) during which these warm waters events tended to occur.
The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.
La Niña means The Little Girl in Spanish. La Niña is also sometimes called El Viejo, anti-El Niño, or simply “a cold event.”
La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. Global climate La Niña impacts tend to be opposite those of El Niño impacts. In the tropics, ocean temperature variations in La Niña also tend to be opposite those of El Niño.
During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.
Note:- We are trying to publish all the best articles and summaries of Yojana.The idea is to cover Yojana as part of our daily current events, thus reducing the burden of preparation on part of our readers.We have been covering Yojana issue from January 2015 onwards. As of now, the Januray 2015 is already covered where sanitation was the theme.The following is February 2015 Yojana Coverage, where the theme is federalism.
Buddha and Federalism :-
The idea of federalism as an organising principle between different levels of a state is quite old. Greek city states had it. Lichchavi kingdom of northern India in the 6th century BC is a celebrated example of a republican system.
In the modern world, this continues to be the most popular system in larger countries like US, Brazil, Mexico and India. In fact, the European Union is a recent example of the idea of federalism being implemented at a trans-national level to leverage its various advantages in the economic sphere.
It may perhaps look surprising that close to three dozen nations have been born after 1990 either by seceding from a larger federal structure or due to war and other factors. In a large number of cases, the mal-functioning of the federal structure gave rise to ethnic and nationalistic strife which finally culminated in the emergence of new countries.
Scholars have noted that there is a ‘federalist ferment’ across the world but there is no single model of federalism. While Montesquieu talked about the ‘confederate republic constituted by sovereign city states’, federalists like James Madison pleaded the case for a ‘compound republic’ with an ‘overarching central government that can override against narrow local interests’.
The architect of Indian Constitution, Baba Saheb Ambedkar believed that for a culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse and heterogeneous country like India, federalism was the ‘chief mark’, though with a strong unitary bias. This understanding, which was shared by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and other national leaders stood at sharp variance with Gandhi’s idea of federalism who was a votary of decentralisation and devolution of power to the lowest unit of Panchayat.
Globalisation has also deeply impacted the concept of federalism. As the countries of the world become more and more tightly integrated, the external influence of powerful financial and political entities tends to limit the freedom of action on the part of states. It is often reflected in the weakening of public institutions. This process has also generated a phase of ‘competitive federalism’ where provincial governments compete with the centre to attract investment, garner capital and technology for their benefit.
India, on the other hand, has taken forward the path of cooperative federalism by gradually loosening the control of the central government over the states in financial matters and restricting itself more and more to policy issues in certain areas only. It can be argued that cooperative federalism could be the path to make best use of the ‘different advantages of the magnitude and littleness of nations’ as Tocqueville had once remarked.
It is important to underline that federalism, in its true sense, can be successful only by broadening the base of democracy and deepening its roots. In the case of India, a deep respect for diversity of languages, cultures, ethnicity and religion as hallmarks of its political and civilizational existence could nourish federalism and strengthen the nation.
It is the only way India could take forward its great tradition of federalism which goes back to the time of Buddha. Let us end with a story. Around 5th century BC, the republican states of Lichchavi and Sakya had an institutional system called Santhagara which was used to debate issues of vital importance to the republic, including disputes between various constituents of the republic. Buddha was initiated into the Sakya Santhagara at the age of 20. When he was 28, there was a dispute over sharing of water of Rohini river between the Sakyas and Koliyas. The Sakya military commander was in favour of war on Koliyas which Siddhartha opposed. But the peace proposal of Siddhartha was defeated miserably during voting. Siddhartha had to face exile. Buddha may have been defeated and exiled but the idea of the republic and settling of disputes without the use of force has survived. The republican spirit has survived as a guiding spirit for nations.