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Indian Rail become a cause for amusement in a mukari published in Harishchandra Pakrika in 1884:
Calls me by whistling
takes rupiya then allows to sit close
Takes me away in play
Why sakhi it it good man? no sakhi, only Rail!
Opening of the East Indian Railway, by the most noble the Marquis of Dalhousie, K.T Governor –General, on Saturday, 3rd February 1855.
The following arrangements have been made:-
The party invited to attend the official inauguration, will meet at the Howarah station at quarter-past 9 o’çlock precisely, when a prayer will be read by the right reverend by the Lord Bishop of Calcutta.
The train will leave Howrah at half-past 9 o’çlock, reaching Burdwan at about half-past 12.
Breakfast will be prepared at 1 o’çlock at Burdwan
The train will return from Burdwan at half-past 3 o’clock.
At breakfast the following order and limitation of toasts will be observed:-
H.M The Queen
H.R.H Price Albert and the royal family
The Governor-General of India
The army and Navy
The East Indian Railway Company
The Engineers and Locomotive superintendent and contractors of the railway
The Commercial interests of India
Dr. O’Shaughnessy and the electric telegraph
The ball will be given at the Town Hall, Calcutta. On Monday. The 2nd February 1855.
Harkaru (Calcutta) 31 January 1855
Railway Extensions in Bengal
In the course of his speech at the recent Trader’s dinner, Sir Ashley Eden, the reader many remember, insisted upon the importance of the opening out of Bengal. This, he declared, was “the one great means which the Government had at its disposal for really improving the condition of the people and fostering a great trade”. The Lieutenant- Governor said, at the same time, that it was a mistake to think that the want of progress in this respect was in any degree attributable to a tendency on the part of the government of India to appropriate to itself money which fairly belonged to this province. Sir Ashley Eden has since recorded a important resolution on railway extensions in Bengal. It will be in the recollection of the reader, that when Sir John Strachey brought out a revised edition of his famous decentralisation scheme in 1877, the council of State Railways was made over to the local government which undertook to pay to government of India interest on their capital outlay, the supreme government agreeing to provide an annual grant for railway extensions in this province. At the time the new arrangement was made, three short lines- the Tirhoot line, the Nalhati line and the Mitla line, - were open to traffic: while the northern Bengal line was under construction. This latter line has since been opened to traffic as also the short line between Patna and Gya. …It will be seen that Sir Ashley Eden’s scheme for railway extension in Bengal is grand and comprehensive: but the question arises will all the projected lines prove successful in a financial point of view? …The financial results of railways in India have, doubtless, been more satisfactory than those of irrigation works: but then we must bear in mind the stubborn facts recorded in the report of the Select Committee on Indian Public Works. These facts are that the railways will prove direct remunerative has not been realized; that in no single year except the famine year 1877-78 has the return on the aggregate expenditure on railways been sufficient to meet the interest on the capital expended; that the entire loss on the guaranteed railways amounted upto 1877-78 to no less sum than 22,437; that between 1877-78 and 1878-79 there has been a serious falling off in the returns sufficient to pay one third of the interest on their capital outlay. Before expending more money on railways, the government should carefully weigh what the select committee on Indian Public Works has so forcibly pointed out, viz., that “as railways have now been contracted along the most important lines of communication, the returns which are yielded on the money expended on railways in the past ought not to be regarding as affording any evidence that similar returns will be obtained from capital which may be expended in the future”.
Brahmo Public Opinion (Calcutta). 26 February 1880
The Mutlah Railway
The public has not had for many years presented to it a scheme more deserving of encouragement than the one for connecting Calcutta with the new port on one for a railway. The success of the East India Railway Company’s railway has inducted a very general confidence in the eligibility of that class of works as a means of investment. This confidence is not unfounded. The East India railway passes through a portion of the country not more populous or productive than the tracks on the other sides of Calcutta. A railway to Halleshuhur on the north, Takee on the east, or Barruipore on the south, would be scarcely less paying than the line to Raneegunge. It argues an extremely want of enterprise amongst our capitalist that all these line were not taken up within six months after the Howarh & Raneegunge way was shown to have yielded a pile of surplus over its working expenses. That the Mutlah has been made a subject of speculation, is owing more to the prevailing predilictions in favour of a new port than to a just appreciation of the scheme itself. If constructed. The work for quarter of a century to come will pay its owners entirely by the traffic between Calcutta and Barruipore, a distance of half the line. The number of passengers on the Gurriah and Balliaghattah bridges has been counted at 1,30,000 per week, 303 hackeries pass Gurriah bridge every day, 1.600,000 tons of goods a year pass on the road. All these are susceptible of a vast increase by he stimulus which a railway will afford. Large numbers of people, natives of the district to be traversed by the proposed line, reside in Calcutta where they earn their mean of livelihood. These would visit their homes oftener if traveling were cheaper and more expeditious. The quantity of rice that is brought by the machas on miserable canoes to Chetlah and other markets of Calcutta is something enormous. The greater portion of this trade would find a path on the new railway.
With such advantages in view we are surprised at the Luke warmness of the projectors. They have indeed collected a good deal of information needed for people who have no local knowledge whatever. But the time lost in negotiating for a guarantee of profits from government was absolutely thrown away. The best thing the projectors have done was the convening of the public meeting the other day to discuss the subject.
Not a soul present there but was convinced of the feasibility of the project. Many were anxious it should be carried out in the London market, we hope the encouragement given the other day will screw up the projector’s spirits to a working point…
Hindoo Patriot. 5 August 1858
First presentation of a separate Rail Budget in Council of State in India
Extracts from speech by Sir Maneejki Dadabhoy
Sir, on this memorable occasion, the occasion of the first presentation of a separate budget, and I rise to speak on this occasion with a feeling of sorrow of a separate budget and with a sense of deep disappointment. Sir, I have not much to quarrel with the essential of the budget. On the details I shall presently congratulate the Member and Mr. Hindley for the great service they have rendered to the country. My quarrel just now is of a different nature. Mr. Hindley in his very interesting, very lucid and very able speech remarked with just pride that this is an outstanding event of historic importance to the Railway of India and yet Sir. On this historic occasion it is a matter of regret that this council was not even consulted or its opinion asked for that all. I will just briefly describe speech last year pointed out the advisability of separating the railway finance from general finance. This question was taken up in the assembly..I will refer to a significant passage in the speech of my Honorable friend. Sir. Charles Innes..
“I regret very much that it ea not a unanimous report in all respects and I regret it more because it is likely to make my task today somewhat harder. But. Sir, the matter is of vital importance to railways. The resolution represents the considered policy of the government of India and it is clear that we can accept a decision in this matter only from the assembly itself. You will all agree I think that it is only right that the government should submit to this assembly a reasoned statement of their reasons why they think that the house ought to adopt this policy.
The Honorable the commerce member admitted that his proposals involved a change in the policy of the government of India. It was a new policy inaugurated by government and I asset that this council had a right to be consulted and had a right to discuss that resolution and express its opinion. Sir. If the mater lay exclusively within the jurisdiction of the assembly, I for one would never take any objections to it. I fully recognise the powers and privileges, the financial obligations placed on that body. At the same time. I think it is the duty of every member of this council to see that the rights of and privileges of the council of State are in no way restricted or affected. Sir, what is the question? Here the government make a change, a vital change in their railway policy. Crores of rupees are separated from the general finances under a new convention to be dealt with by the railway administration. True, it is an administrative problem, it is a railway problem. Do you think it was right and proper that this council was not given even an opportunity to discuss the principle of tat resolution embodying the terms of a convention which according to Mr. Hindley was the new charter of Indian railways? And the details of the specific scheme of contribution which was approved by the assembly was not even officially brought t the knowledge of the council...But my observations on the spirit in which this question has been treated will not detract from my tribute of admiration for this scheme as a whole. This scheme of separation of the railway finances from the general finances has distinct advantages. It will help to improve the railway resources and railway finance, and prevent its violent fluctuations. It will afford a valuable incentive to railways to economise and to work with a well considered and deliberate policy that they may get back the surpluses for development of railways. ..The former policy of the government of India was to rob the railways of their legitimate earnings. When the railways gave to general revenues large surpluses those surpluses were given back grudgingly to the railways with a pusillanimity which cannot but be condemned. There was always opposition in the council that spending of money on railways was undesirable and unnecessary, and more ought to be spent on education, sanitation and other nation building measures...As one deeply interested in the commerce of the country, I welcome this feature of the new railway programme and I have no doubt that the railway department have adopted a most judicious and correct policy...If railways are developed, the trade of the country will develop and expand and the position of the individual tax payer will be improved..
Sir Maneejki Dadabhoy. General Discussion on Railway Budget 24 February 1925. Council of State
Extracts from speech by Sir Dinshaw Wacha.
..this separation of railway finance from the general revenue is no new thing at all. The only new feature of it is this that we are belated in doing that which we are belated in doing that which should have been done from the very first, that is when India began to have its railway construction. At that time there was no money in the country and there was no enterprise. All the money needed to make in the country and there was no enterprise. All the money needed to make a modest start has to be borrowed, and it was owing to that fact that, in course, the government had to guarantee people who put their money in Indian railways for interest. That being so, of course, necessarily the general revenue had to be considered in the matter and that was the reason why for so long the separation that might have taken place at the very beginning was held in abeyance. We have only been able to separate the general revenue from railway finance at this time of the day...I have been a student of railway finance- a humble student I should say...guaranteed railways were, in India for India’s better interest from all points of view. They however from financial point of view very unsatisfactory. They have cost the tax payers crores on crores which could have be paid from the general revenues. I pointed out in my brochure that the time has come for discontinuing the practice of merging railway finance in general revenues for more than one solid reason....above all let us never be parochial in railway matters. Let us think “imperially”.
Sir Dinshaw Wacha. General Discussion on Railway Budget 24 February 1925. Council of State