A K Bhattacharya’s column “Air India’s political baggage” (Raisina Hill, August 27) highlights the significant symptoms that denote the malaise from which Air India suffers — ministers focusing on trivial issues at the cost of vital ones. At a time when the company is facing heavy losses, the liberal grant of free excess baggage by the higher-ups betrays an utter disregard for the health of the organisation and sends a wrong message down the line. It is of some solace that the present minister is concerned about it.
It may be noted that the practice of allowing free excess baggage is an instance of how ministerial discretion provides an opportunity for distributing favours to the chosen and influential ones. This is a much-prized right for a politician looking for electoral gains. The time spent by our ministers on an activity is inversely proportional to its importance and directly related to its value in pleasing gullible voters. In its generic form the disease is visible in other public sector undertakings as well: for example, the release of railway berths from VIP quota or sanction of additional gas connections.
For many ministers their portfolios are meant for self-aggrandisement. Just a day or two before relinquishing his charge, Praful Patel had approved free air travel to the kith and kin of past civil aviation ministers. It’s no wonder that Air India bleeds.
Y G Chouksey, Pune
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