Air India (AI) has allowed the Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad to fly again. The limited outrage in the social media is very funny. What did one expect Lohani to do? Permanently ban the MP from flying? The C&MD of Air India, Ashwani Lohani, has made a point and banned the MP from flying for a fortnight and that is the limit.
Air India is a government carrier, fully dependent on government funds for survival and they are not in a position to withstand any government pressure. The Civil Aviation Ministry is the boss and all the matters like safety etc., be damned.
This is the fate of all PSUs working at Delhi including the so-called Navarathnas. The Ministry controls them absolutely. Sometimes the C&MDs of these companies have to go to the Ministry and also stand in the corridors of power till summoned by the Joint Secretaries. Are we living in some utopian State where everything is hunky-dory and above board ?
The MP group is a closed-door club and each one ensures that their privileges are guarded. Have you ever noticed any discussion on their privileges or perks? Cutting across party lines any increase of perks or salaries bills are passed in ten minutes. The government of the day may say anything in public but they require Shiv Sena for their existence at Mumbai and they are not going to jeopardise that for saving the skin of Air India. There are at least a dozen committees in the Parliament in which the C&MD of Air India has to appear and these MPs are going to make his life hell in future.
One of the prime reasons for Air India’s losses is the outstanding of thousands of crores of rupees due from the Ministries, who pay the bills sometimes after 9 months to a year. I was heading the Ashok Tours and Travels at Delhi and once I stopped issuing tickets to the Ministry of Defence for non-payment. What was the result? I get a call from my Chairman asking me to start issuing the tickets to the Ministry, outstanding be damned.
The MPs are the present day Maharajas and the sooner we accept this bitter truth the better it is for all concerned.
—N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC