I disagree with G. Parthasarathy’s suggestions that people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan should be resumed (“Reaching out to Pakistan”, Mint, 18 June). There is no doubt that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s message to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is straightforward. But here we must not forget that if we really want to see Pakistan dismantle its terror outfits, then first, the US needs to stop all financial aid to Pakistan. Second, India must not deviate from its stand, until there is constructive action taken by Pakistan and results are for everyone to see. Until and unless these two conditions are met, there is no point feeling happy that we have done our job. Mere talk does not take us anywhere, even more so when dealing with Pakistan.
— Bal Govind
The editorial on Air India’s debacle (“Air India should be privatized”, Mint, 22 June) made an interesting read and it is a pity that corrective action has not been adequately taken despite having a separate civil aviation department.
Anyway, as one who has utilized Air India’s Maharaja service from the early 1970s, all I can say is that the airline needs a complete reorganization. A detailed study will indicate the loss- making sectors and under utilization of capacities, on the one hand; while, on the other hand, ambitious plans are afoot for its global expansion.
A suggestion: Simply divide the airline into sector-wise units and eliminate the loss sectors, without any question of prestige and ego trips to claim that Air India “now flies daily to Macau, Timbuktu” or to somewhere else. The amount of food wasted on flights is atrocious. Like many others, why not sell the food, right down to butter and jam, at comparable prices? The food is otherwise trashed, tray by tray, on each flight. Air India could innovate and have the meals ordered at ticketing stage, or sell at the point of entry at the aircraft, and perhaps sell a few items such as hard/soft drinks in flight.
Some of these suggestions may have been recommended before, but what matters now is that such measures have not been implemented. For God’s sake, the airline should postpone the deliveries of new aircraft until new cost-cutting measures are in place.
— A.K. Ramdas
The term “fudging” had gained immense popularity with the unfolding of the Satyam scandal just a few months back. In this context, it is interesting to note how fudging of the Union budget is easily brushed aside without any explanations being offered by those who are responsible for preparing the fiscal documents (“No more fiscal fudging, please”, Mint, 23 June). What started off as a temporary measure to address a revenue-expenditure mismatch related to subsidies, bonds issued to the oil sector companies have now been extended to fertilizer and food as well. This gradual postponing of payments and listing these items as “off budget liabilities” is now known to everyone vaguely familiar with the way fiscal accounts work.
Yet, instead of addressing the issue, the government is continuing with the practice so that it does not seemingly deviate too much from the targets set by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. However, India’s credit rating is already just a level above junk status, and this makes raising funds abroad by the private sector difficult.
In fact, though there are expectations of this budget being a populist one, the government should refrain from, say, corporate tax breaks. There is a need to revise ineffective measures such as special economic zones and cut down on potential revenue losses.
In the coming budget, the government should instead paint the true picture on the fiscal front and outline concrete, time-bound measures to address the deficit problem.
— Tanya Sethi