Mumbai: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Monday cautioned the Narendra Modi government against selling more than 49% stake in Air India, and said no country has ever allowed a foreign entity to hold more than that in its national airliner.

The RSS chief was speaking on the Indian Economy and Economic Policies at the Bombay Stock Exchange, with NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar on the dais.

“Now they are in the process to sell stake in Air India because it has run into losses. But why has Air India run into losses? Air India has landing rights in more than 30 places. It has both tangible and intangible assets. The point to ponder is why Air India is in such a state when it has both tangible and intangible assets. It is because it has not been run well so far. So it should be given to someone who can run it well and turn it around," Bhagwat said. He said he had no idea whether or not the government was thinking along these lines, adding that he had “faith" that the government was doing the right thing.

Bhagwat said India must have ownership and control over its skies through its national airliner. “I am told some countries have not allowed a foreign entity to hold more than 29% stake. Germany has allowed only 49%. That is because each country wants to have the ownership and control over its skies," Bhagwat said.

Bhagwat called for an economic policy and direction which believed in an ethical balance between an individual’s happiness and social well-being. “The idea of Dharma should guide and direct our economic thinking and policy making. By Dharma, I do not mean religion. Dharma here means the sense of balance between individual happiness and larger social being, sense of well-being of all, and the sense of unity. Bharat is unique in this sense that her civilisational greatness teaches her to be committed to the spiritual happiness of all, not just Bharatiya," he said.

Bhagwat said India’s economic policy should be job-oriented and encourage small enterprises. He also called for decentralisation of resources and a balance between development and exploitation of natural resources.

Earlier, Rajiv Kumar said the NITI Aayog was making a development agenda which estimated that India would achieve an average economic growth of 7.5% to 8% between 2018 and 2022. “We are now at the cusp of a growth period that will be sustained for over two to three decades and it will be an inclusive and sustainable growth. Our economy is at such a juncture now that it will only go up because the structural reforms that this government has carried out in the last three-four years have now started paying off," Kumar said.