Opinion

Government Of India Needs To Privatise Air India Instead Of The Railways, Know Why

The Logical Indian

April 29th, 2016

SHARES

Image Courtesy: niharonline wikimedia

Before we get into opinions, let us look at some of the numbers which clearly shows how much of a financial disaster Air India has been.
Air India reported a loss of Rs 2,636 crore in the 2015-16 fiscal and the loss was Rs 5,859.91 crore in 2014-15. The combined losses for Air India and Indian Airlines in 2006–07 were  US$110 million, the loss was US$1.1 billion by March 2009 (owing to the merger) and the accumulated debt of Air India by 2011 was more than 6 billion dollars. The numbers are expected to soar higher for 2016. Despite the staggering amount of tax payers money government had infused into Air India, it continues to bleed, it continues to drain the coffers and the banks alike. Any call for privatization from either of the primary political parties have been met with firm resistance by other political parties. An outrage which was missing when there were suggestions to privatize the railways in the recent railway budget.

Understanding who travels in railways and airlines
The railways are the arteries, veins and the heart of transport in India. No other transport carries as many variety of people to such large distance at such low prices. Yes, one can agree, the AC tier traveler’s due pay a decently high premium for their travel. Yes cleanliness and service is still found wanting on railways. However, for all the other classes of travel on railways, the cost is cheap that enables the poor and middle class to avail long distance travel within their budget. The cost of air travel and the people who it caters to is self explanatory, it is the bussiness class, upper middle class and the elite.


Why is Air India not privatized yet?
Despite the staggering losses, despite the poor service, despite the bureaucratic hurdles and many more there has been no serious consideration of privatizing Air India while the India Railways despite its wide reach and affordable travel that it promises to a lot continues to be considered for privatisation. The money that is being spent on Air India and the money that could accrue out of privatization could be wisely used for pro-poor schemes and perhaps strengthen the railways even more.


Democracy now
Democracy by definition gives a voice and a vote to everyone, but the real purpose of democracy is to ensure the economically wekaer sections get a political voice to formulate policies that are inclusive and pro-poor to enable the poor’s transition out of poverty and thereby for a developed nation. The reluctance to privatize Air India even while continuing to spend valuable money on it to facilitate expensive air travel despite the presence of large number of airlines is a policy failure and shows the distance the political class have maintained from the ground reality. To add to this poor policy, there is a new found inclination towards privatizing the railways smacks of apathy towards the poor and the other classes of people for whom railways is a lifeline.


The Logical Indian strongly believes cheap Rail transport is a necessity as much as Health care and education is necessary. The government should ensure it continues to invest on Railways to keep it affordable to the larger sections of the people. The Logical Indian demands the government to not to waste any more of tax payers money on Air India. An air traveller has many options even if Air India does not exist, the government should push to privatize Air India and cash on it rather than spend on it.

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