• Air India’s hidden subsidy shows that the govt uses the company merely as a political tool

    In spite of having the most bloated personnel structure in the industry, Air India continues to provide the worst service in the skies. Just recently, its on-time performance was shown to be much lower than other carriers that employ far less people per aircraft. In short, Air India does less work through more personnel. And all this colossal waste is funded by public money, that is, money hard earned and produced by you and me. That Air India still continues to be funded by public money with its very high employee per aircraft number and low on time performance is a matter of shame. Any matter of shame, on the part of who are not shameless, would have provoked some action. However, the government seems to be in no mood to stop funding Air India and stop haemorrhaging of public money. Thus, in an age of republicanism and democracy, the expensive Maharajah burns public money like all maharajahs have done in the past. The turbaned Maharajah icon of Air India is now a cruel, cruel joke.
    The amount of subsidy that has been injected into Air India by the people of the various states of the Indian Union is huge. Since the Union government extracts this money directly from states and puts them in a common pool, this element of states is not apparent. I will discuss later how and why this matters. Since April 2012, the Union government has pumped in more than Rs 22,280 crore to Air India’s core equity as part of its turnaround plan. This is part of the Rs 30,000 crore committed to Air India by Union government as part of its turnaround plan. Let’s realise what this subsidy is for. This is for passenger air services — a service that less than 5% of the population will ever avail and that too is the top 5% earning group of the population. However, the subsidy for this would come from the people of the states at large and hence, this is the worst form of regressive subsidy where the poor are subsidising a company that provides services to the rich. That this scandal continues is broad daylight is probably a huge sign of the classist nature of public discourse and policy making in the Indian Union.
    But there is a huge, huge hidden subsidy that no one talks about and that does not seem to matter. Let me explain by example. I am employed in a government-funded institution. One would think that public funds or government funds, since they are funds of the people, should be held to the highest level of thrift and value-for-money when spending and should not be wasted one bit since I am spending money given in trust by the public. The standards of responsibility would have to be high. Marlon Humphrey Jersey

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