Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bailing out the Maharaja with taxpayer's money

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Old fleet of planes, out of shape air hostesses, rude ground staff., welcome to the world of Air India. The National Carrier has demanded for a Rs. 15000 Crore bailout package from the Government. The Government will bail the Maharaja out of an air pocket with the tax payer's money which could have otherwise gone into the social sector to prevent incidents like Lalgarh from happening.

It is a well known fact that due to the economic downturn aviation industry has taken a beating. With sharp decline in the domestic passenger traffic all the major airlines both the Full Service Airlines and the Low Cost Carriers are facing the crunch. But when it comes to Air India the problems seemed to be compounded by the work culture among its employees right from the management to the support staff.

The question now arises in spite of having one of the best connectivity and enjoying tax sops from the government being the national carrier why is Air India bleeding more that others? One of the reasons has been its inflated staff strength when compared to other airlines. Now this could have been used in a more organized manner to become an advantage for Air India than becoming its biggest headache.

The government will release funds and bail out Air India but the question is why should my tax money go for the payment of six and seven figure salaries to employees of an organizations whose mis-management has led to the situation. The same money could have been better used in the social sector for basic infrastructure development in the rural parts of the country which are development starved and titling towards the underground elements such as the Maoists.

The Government would argue it was taking this step to save jobs but if that is the case why did it not save jobs of the employees in the private sector. Why did it not give funds to an organization like Satyam so that 10000 odd jobs could be saved. There should be some sort of accountability when the tax payers money is used to save mis-managed Government and Public Sector Units. Its high time the government makes its staff accountable towards the wastage of public money.


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