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Air India divestment is a flawed idea, says RSS trade union

Joe C Mathew     January 28, 2020

RSS-affiliated trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has opposed the government's decision to privatise Air India, saying it will impact connectivity to low-profit routes of the country.

In a statement issued on January 28, BMS said that while calculating profit and loss of Air India, one should consider the role Air India has been playing to serve the passengers in many low-profit or loss-making routes. "Privatisation of Air India can have a cascading impact. Many of those airports which will lose the flight may face further crises, many of the emerging cities may face the crisis of connectivity," the statement said. BMS said that no private sector will operate on unviable routes only to serve passengers and connecting them with one another to promote national unity.

"When dealing with the public sector, we should think of the yardsticks we are using for the measurement of the performance. Judging performance of the public sector units solely on the basis of the monetary profit and loss is a wrong practice, as we mentioned above that the aims and objectives of these PSEs are different from those of the private sector enterprises," Virjesh Upadhyay, General Secretary, BMS said.

"PSEs are to serve the nation, to create decent jobs, decent living standards, decent consumption and responsible social behavior. While calculating profit and loss of Air India we need to think of the fact that Air India has been operating many of the low-profit or loss-making routes only to serve the passenger and connecting people with one another," he added.

"The idea of selling PSUs to save taxpayers' money and create resources for social spending is a flawed one. These arguments get more currency when we are talking of the aviation sector in which one after another private players have failed to make a mark; Kingfisher being the most glaring example," the statement said.

"There are multiple instances in which the government used the taxpayers' money to bail out either private business or banks. It is an indirect way of funding private business who when in profit shares nothing more than the taxes to the government. It is a classic case of the privatisation of profit and socialisation of loss. Keeping these issues in mind Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh urges the government to think hundred times before going for the disinvestment of Air India," Upadhyay points out.

BMS argues that ever since inception, public sector undertakings have been the driver of growth and value creation. "It is unfortunate that they are being sold in the name of resource mobilisation to fund social spending. We hold a strong view that selling PSU to private players is not going to help the government in mobilising resources and funding social spending because privatisation does not free the government from its responsibilities," BMS states.

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