The Maharaja is on the dole. He has a loss of Rs.27,000 crore and a debt of Rs.40,000 crore that cannot be repaid. To this royal pauper, the government wants to loan another Rs.30,000 crore. That is nearly 1,00,000 crore Rupees of commoners’ hard earned money down a hole in the sky!
What lofty purpose is being served by this crumbly pie-in-the-sky called Air India? In the first place, why do we have a national airline? For the benefit of 20,000 employees and a few score politicians and bureaucrats? Do the rest of the citizens have to pay Rs.3,500 per family to hold these deadweights aloft? Even if you think keeping these Air Indians employed is ‘socially just’, it would be less taxing to wind up the airline, keep them at home and pay their salaries. That’s about Rs. 3,000 crore a year; working out to Rs.100 per family for the rest of the Indians. It would take 35 years before we hit the Rs.3,500 mark. By then almost all of these 20,000 employees would be retired. So we make a profit (a word that’s anathema to Air Indians). Actually, we need not wait so long for the profits to start pouring in. Even if half of these employees are proud, hard-working, sincere and employable; within a year they would land real jobs and we could save Rs. 50 a year. In a worst case scenario that all the losses and loans incurred cannot be recouped by hiving off the company, we at least save the Rs.30,000 crore planning to be pumped in. Which lessens the burden on the rest of us by Rs.1,000 per family.
Can any sensible human, within government or without, deny that this is a far less drain on our wealth than keeping the bloated kite afloat. And afloat for what reason? National pride? How is it more national and more Indian than Jet or Indigo or Spice? How is it proud to be inefficient? To cater to the nostalgia of a few NRIs who feel they are on Mathrubhoomi the moment they step on to these aircraft? Why should we, the people, be forced to serve an aging Maharaja (who was actually kidnapped by febrile nationalists in his youth and rendered senile before his prime by bureaucratic chains)?
The Wright brothers showed humans how to fly without wings; the wrong brothers in the government keep showing us how to sink, even with the best of wings. How long would it be before our government can turn the Dreamliners being added to the fleet into frightfully expensive nightmares? Let us end this nonsense once and for all. It will be a safe decision. Not too many heart-broken travellers would commit suicide in protest if Air India were shut down. Let us dethrone the socialist maharaja and give him a privy purse. That would be cheaper than being held to a king’s ransom by every disgruntled Air Indian. Remember, every time Air India flies, the rest of India sinks deeper into the morass.