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Fighting the drought devil

Fighting the drought devil
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First Published: Thu, Aug 13 2009. 09 00 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Aug 13 2009. 09 00 PM IST
This refers to the Quick Edit “Decoupling from Drought” (Mint, 12 August). Even though we cannot panic, what is now worrisome is the famine conditions that will ultimately cause untold misery to the poor and middle class—unless the government takes concrete steps to mitigate the hardship. As reported, the rural economy might be insulated to some extent against drought conditions, but the reality is that staple food may not available at reasonable prices because of low output, speculation and hoarding. Hence, it is difficult to escape from the clutches of the drought devil if the bad monsoon prolongs beyond the kharif season this year. Decoupling from drought is possible through proactive steps that need to be taken by the government early—not after the occurrence of suicide deaths and agitations.
— K.N.V.S. Subrahmanyam
The news story, “Will Ambani case hit Deora sales pitch?” (Mint, 10 August), highlights the challenge faced by the Union petroleum minister as he seeks global investors for the eighth round of auctions of oil and gas blocks. None of the global investors such as Shell and ExxonMobil has shown any interest in the process because of the openly partisan stand of the ministry in the ongoing Ambani gas dispute. By tinkering with its own policy on gas price fixation and marketing in the RNRL-RIL matter, the ministry has made its task even more difficult for future auctions.
The Ambani case has evoked widespread interest abroad and global investors have watched as Deora has shuffled from one position to another in order to protect RIL, with which he has a long history. It will be a Herculean task for Deora and his officials in the ministry to now expect companies to invest billions of dollars in gas exploration without allowing the companies themselves to fix the price at which and the buyers to whom they can sell. The government has no one but itself to blame for messing up this high-stakes game. It has to make amends fast if it needs to attract foreign investment in this vital sector.
— Rishi Chugh
Arvind Jadhav is absolutely right in sending the message to his staff at Air India that there is no free lunch (“Turning around Air India”, 10 August). The message is that one has to perform to stay relevant and remain in the race, since competition in the aviation sector is cut-throat. To minimize the huge losses incurred by the national carrier, Jadhav needs to explore the following:
·Reduce the turnaround time and utilize the existing fleet for more numbers of flights in a day—to earn more revenue;
·No incentive should be given to any employee, whatever the reasons and whatever the implications;
·Jadhav should be given free hand by the government to restructure the business model;
·No more fleet addition should take place until the time we see some turnaround sign and until the existing fleet has been utilized to the hilt.
— Bal Govind
The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), the government’s chief negotiating representative, at one point appeared to agree to a 30% increase in the wages of the bank employees. But it has now agreed to a 13% increase, which is not acceptable to the United Forum of Bank Unions. This led public sector bank employees to go on a two-day strike. Such irresponsible behaviour not only affects customers, but also stifles business and paralyzes the country’s economy.
Agreed: these bank employees are paid less compared with the Union government staff and other public sector employees. But the timing of the strike was wrong. There is an acute worldwide recession where thousands have lost their jobs, or even taken severe pay cuts. When IBA knows that the wage settlement of bank employees is due for revision, it should have come to a negotiated settlement, avoiding a further strike.
— Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee
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First Published: Thu, Aug 13 2009. 09 00 PM IST