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Your front-page report “Govt may hold 26% stakes in Air India after sell off” (January 12) unfolds a new twist in this never-ending saga of government’s decision to privatise the terminally sick behemoth Air India. Like many prominent promoters in the private sector, government too just won’t let it go. The fact that this thinking of the government is against the recommendation of it’s own policy think tank Niti Aayog doesn’t bode well for the proposed stake sale. This move is an anti-climax after the positive decision to allow 49 per cent FDI in civil aviation. No foreign airline will be foolish enough to show any interest now in this jaded old fuddy-duddy heirloom.
The real reason for the move is quite clear. Air India is the only refuge for the politicians and government employees to get complimentary upgrades and even free tickets for their families and often large entourages. The argument that selling 26 per cent may give more value to the the government in terms of money is just not tenable. Government’s belief that privatisation would increase the airline’s efficiency and make it profitable would have been true only if it decided to sell out totally.Krishan Kalra, Gurugram
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