Business Today

Hike was inevitable

At last, the government could summon up the courage to increase LPG, petrol and diesel prices. It must have come as a huge relief for the oil PSUs, even though the retail price hike is too meagre and doesn’t reflect the soaring global crude prices that have been hovering around $135 per barrel.

     Print Edition: July 13, 2008

Hike was inevitable

At last, the government could summon up the courage to increase LPG, petrol and diesel prices. It must have come as a huge relief for the oil PSUs, even though the retail price hike is too meagre and doesn’t reflect the soaring global crude prices that have been hovering around $135 per barrel. If the common man is complaining, it’s because the rise was too large to cope with in one go, and has also led to a sharp spike in the prices of everything else.

Bal Govind, through e-mail

In a tailspin

Your feature on the domestic airline industry (Mayday, BT June 29, 2008) was an eye-opener. The airlines seem to be caught between the devil and the deep sea. They are being made to pay through their nose for fuel, the prices of which have more than doubled in a short span of time, but they can’t pass on the same to the passengers for fear of driving them away. The problem seems to be worse for the low-cost airlines whose very existence is now threatened. Can’t the government do something to bail out these airlines from their current plight? If it won’t, then who will? It should begin by looking at ways to reduce the price of ATF—by reducing the various duties and taxes on it—as well as take steps to improve infrastructure at airports. All these measures will surely help airlines to improve their efficiency and cut operational costs. As any frequent air traveller in the country will vouch for, it’s quite routine for flights to circle above airports or to be diverted to nearby destinations because of congestion at all the major airports.

B. Rajasekaran, through e-mail

Innovations hold the key

Your cover story, Tick-tock, Tick tock, Tick-tock...(BT, June 29) was well-timed. There’s very little we can do to stem the rising prices of crude and have to take the hit. However, as your story points out, we must increase our efforts and explore alternate sources of energy. While measures like plugging leaks, loss in transit and economic use of fuel etc., are important, steps for tapping new energy sources—solar, wind, bio-fuels, nuclear fuel etc.— have now become a necessity. For example, all the water pumps in agricultural fields can be changed to solar-powered ones. The government, on its part, should incentivise the manufacturing of hybrid and battery-powered cars. Such innovations can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and help bring down the overall demand for oil.

A. Jacob Sahayam, through e-mail

Gung-ho on retail

The booming retail industry has created multiple growth opportunities around itself. This aspect is beautifully captured by your story (Retail Wars, BT June 15), which points out how the retail sector has become a large employer of people. There is another implication of the growth in retail; it has led some B-schools in the country launching retail-specific courses to keep up with the growing demand for skilled manpower from this sector. Moreover, growing competition among several retailers will only mean sweet deals for the buyers. Farmers stand to gain, too, as retailers directly procure vegetables from them, weeding out the profiteering middlemen from the scene.

Mahesh Kumar Dadrwal, through e-mail

In need of stiff measures

It is a fact that our energy requirements have gone up significantly over the last decade. And it’s not just India. The demand for oil across Asia has risen substantially to keep the growth engines humming. Governments can’t go on subsidising oil. So, hiking fuel prices is the only solution. Also, the government should launch a drive to educate people to use oil judiciously. Long years of subsidies have made people take cheap oil for granted. Phasing out subsidies, though a drastic measure, will help create an environment of responsibile consumption among people.

R.K. Sudan, through e-mail 

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