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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 June 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 June 2017


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1;


Topic:  Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes

1) “The risks from climate change are serious enough to require grass-roots action, rather than waiting for a grand international agreement.” What are these grass roots actions? How can the fight climate change? Illustrate. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction-

Soon after US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, leaders of many businesses, universities, states and cities said that they would continue to be committed to battling climate change. Their positive response is appreciable because it opens up the possibility of a green strategy that begins from the bottom rather than the top.

Grass-root actions to fight climate change-

Climate change is one of the greatest tragedy of commons, affecting all. The indicators have reached a level where damages caused due to climate change are irreversible and thus warrants actions at grass-root level rather than a grand international agreement.The grass-root actions can be divided into following way-

Actions to arrest the pace of climate change-

  • Renewable energy: Dedicated efforts to move towards renewable energy by using solar rooftops in all houses, use of biomass. This will lower the footprint of greenhouse gases promoting climate change
  • Energy efficiency- people should progressively reduce the wastage of electricity and at the same time revert to the energy efficient bulbs, electronic appliances etc.
  • Corporate sector must adopt the climate friendly practices like constructing green buildings, transport facilities for employees to reduce usage of private vehicles, using energy efficient lighting and air conditioning system etc.
  • By adopting to the climate friendly life-style which reduces green-house gases emission, produces less waste and promotes the energy savings.

Actions for mitigating the impact of climate change-

  • Building resilience of the communities- people should spread awareness about the climate change and its ill effects on the communities. They must integrate adaptation measures such as water harvesting, reforestation with native species, protection of biodiversity and prevention of forest fires and overgrazing.
  • Carbon sequestration through tree planting and ecosystem conservation and management. Efforts to increase afforestation at grass-root level and every possible attempt to avoid deforestation by adopting better and environmental friendly practices can help address climate change. This will lead to more rainfall, better temperatures with more oxygen in air.
  • By eliminating or reducing the unsustainable agricultural practices such as slash and burn, and replacing of indigenous forests with commercial monocultures.

Actions for adapting to the changes brought by climate change-

  • Rainwater harvesting: Climate change shall make rainfall erratic and with the soaring temperatures raise the demand of water. So rainwater harvesting can help us avoid water issues by its better utilization
  • Public transport: People should adopt public transport and avoid private one. Use of energy efficient means like electric vehicles can go a long way in tackling climate change.
  • Climate smart agriculture- It is Agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”.
  • Promoting tree planting and sustainable agricultural techniques including growing of indigenous food crops to enhance food security, harvesting rain water and curbing soil erosion to build resilience.

Conclusion

Climate change is the classic tragedy of the commons. Nobody owns environmental stability even though everybody depends on it. So everybody’s property is actually nobody’s property. The same dynamic that leads to the overgrazing of common grasslands or overfishing in the high seas also ensures that every person has an incentive to pollute even though the collective burden of such individual action can be catastrophic. Thus people themselves have to overcome this tragedy and work in preserving the purity and serenity of the mother-earth.

 


Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues 

2) Why did the Indian government abolish privy purses and privileges of erstwhile rulers of Indian States? Was this move justified? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Privy purse-

In India, the Privy Purse was a payment made to the ruling (royal or lower) families of erstwhile princely states as part of their agreements to first integrate with India in 1947, and later to merge their states in 1949 whereby they lost all ruling rights. The Privy Purse was continued to the royal families until the 26th Amendment in 1971, by which all their privileges and allowances from the Central Government would cease to exist, was implemented after a two-year legal battle. In some individual cases however privy purses were continued for life for individuals who had held ruling powers before 1947.

Why the privy-purse and privileges of the erstwhile rulers were abolished?

Privy-purse and privileges of the erstwhile rulers were abolished because according to government of the time concept of Privy Purses and special privileges were incompatible with an “egalitarian social order” and violated the principle of equality.

Was this move justified?

Supporters of the move justified it because–

  • Socialist State: Providing such privileges and emoluments to the most prosperous section of society was irrational but also against democratic socialist principles.
  • Lack of sympathy for Princes: Considering that most had prospered on the side of the British and never struggled for the Indian independence as British rule provided them luxurious lives for which they had become infamous.
  • Egalitarian Social Order: privy purses and  special  privileges were incompatible with an egalitarian social order.
  • Fiscal Consolidation: Indian government had been incurring revenue deficit. Thus government tried to reduce it by abolishing privy purses.

However following points should also be taken into the considerations-

  • Payments reduced progressively: The total cost to the Indian exchequer in 1947 was Rs.6 crore, which was to be progressively reduced. At the time of abolition in 1970, the total amount payable to all the erstwhile princes was just Rs.4 crore a year.
  • Small price- privy-purse proved to be small price for what independent India got in return. British had given princely states the option to remain independent. Thus there were great chances of balkanization of India. Hence the overall sum of 6 crores to be given to princely states was nothing vis-à-vis integration of princely states into India.
  • Peaceful integration- Independent India did not have to fight bloody war to integrate princely states. Great wisdom of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and V K Menon brought the peaceful integration of princely state with the offer of privy-purse.
  • Constitutional breach- The most important argument made against the abolition of privy-purse was that, constitution had guaranteed kings and rulers privy-purse and privileges. Thus its abolition was grave act of constitutional breach.

Indian constitution makers were aware of the fact that concept of Privy-purse and privileges was incompatible with the egalitarian social order and goes against the principle of equality. They also knew that princely states had largely helped the British rule and even acted against the Indian national movements at a time. Still, Sardar Patel could bring consensus in the constitution assembly for offering privy-purse because of the critical nature of the time which threatened the dis-integration of India. Had they not offered privy-purse, the integration of princely state would have never been so peaceful and smooth. Privy-purse was given constitutional protection to ensure its continuity and to respect the promise made by government of India. Even though constitutional amendment in 1971 was technically well within its limit and scope, it violated the promise made by constitution makers and it tilts the argument in favor move being ethically unjustified one.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic:   Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

3) Since Independence, India’s relations with the US have gone through three phases. Analyse these phases and critically comment on nature of India’s relationship with the US today. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

In recent years there has been great improvement in the relationship between India and US because- confining structures of the Cold War are dismantled. Ideological differences, therefore, no longer dictate foreign policy choices as much as they did during that period. Second, a closer U.S.-India relationship is beneficial for the world, as both political systems are based on democratic representation and animated by liberty, equality, and freedom of expression.

Three phases of India-US relationship-

Phase I – From 1947 to 1971

  • Though western powers led by USA wanted India to become capitalist country, India disappointed them when it chose the path of mixed economy tilting in favor of socialist pattern.
  • India tilted towards the US even as it insisted on non-alignment. Jawaharlal Nehru disdained communism and was on record stating that, at the limit, in a fight, India would side with the Anglo-American democracies. 
  • Further war with China in 1962 compelled India to seek help from USA but it did not gain much in return.

Phase II- from 1971 to 1989

  • During the war of Bangladesh liberation, Russia offered unqualified support to India against the aggressive USA. Thus in this second phase of the relationship, from 1971 to 1989, India tilted the other way, siding with the Soviet Union and against the Anglo-Americans while remaining formally non-aligned.

Phase III- from 1989 till present

  • LPG reforms of 1991 made US less skeptical about India. Further Disintegration of USSR and a weakened Russia and simultaneous rise of Chinese economy made all the future Prime Ministers of India to incline towards US.
  • In this phase India has increasingly tilted towards the US in global strategic terms. The tilt began with P.V. Narasimha Rao’s prime ministership, was accentuated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, became even more acute under Manmohan Singh, and has inclined still further towards Washington in Modi’s time.
  • US signed civil nuclear deal with India making special waiver for India at NSG.
  • At the heart of the steadily increasing strategic tilt towards the US has been India’s worry over the dramatic rise of China.

Nature of India’s relationship with US at present-

  • Strategic partnership-

The new security challenges, like defending the freedom of Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs), especially given China’s growing assertiveness with regard to its maritime space, have provided the much needed urgency for both the United States and India to deepen their security relationship.

While Washington is visibly concerned about growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, India is equally anxious with Chinese territorial aggression in its land borders.

USA’s pivot to Asia policy brought India forefront to resist the Chinese domination in South China Sea, Indian Ocean and other smaller nations. Signing of civil nuclear deal is part of the same agenda.

  • Global fight against terrorism-

Issue of terrorism is a common concern shared by the United States and India. Both countries have been affected deeply by terrorist attacks; in India’s case, some of the attacks were engineered by the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) from Karachi, Pakistan, while Osama bin-Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda was discovered by the United States living in Abbottabad, a Pakistani military town. Thus there has been close cooperation between the two countries to root out terrorism.

  • Military relations-

India has diversified its arms import particularly by increasing import from America. Soon India could sign agreement with Lockhead Martin to manufacture F16 in India. USA has become second largest defence partner for India after USA.

  • Exploring the renewable energy-

India is fast becoming a champion of renewables as its economy becomes more and more energy dependent. It is heavily investing in building its solar infrastructure.  US too is reducing its dependence on oil and exploring other ways like shale gas. Thus both countries can help each other in meeting their energy needs.

  • Dominance of Economic/Business potential-

The US is India’s second largest trading partner, and India is its 11th largest trading partner. In 2015, the US exported $21.5 billion worth of goods to India, and imported $44.8 billion worth of Indian goods. Thus economic ties bind the strong relationship between two countries.

Some concerns-

  • President Trump’s softening of stance towards China-

President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago summit with President Xi Jinping and subsequent interactions with Beijing have seemingly reversed the US’s initial orientation towards China. China is now regarded as a valued partner in dealing with the US’s trade deficit and in containing North Korea.

  • President’s Trump’s transactional nature and demands for reciprocity-

Though India is not an American ally, but it does have a trade surplus with the US. So it must therefore deliver on “fairer” trade and on job creation.

Why India could prove as biggest partner for US in future-

  • India with a population of 1.3 billion, living within a democratic set up, is politically structured to resonate with American values of democracy, individual liberty, and freedom. Henceforth, if America hopes to see a world with democratic values spreading, having India as a partner is definitely a force multiplier.
  • India is fast emerging as an economic powerhouse and a military power. By 2030, India is projected to be the third largest economy in the world, with a projected GDP of $10 trillion, behind the United States’ GDP ($33 trillion) and China’s GDP ($34 trillion).India will become the largest economy in the Commonwealth, overtaking Britain. Hence, a deeper U.S.-India relationship will bolster trade, create jobs, and further enhance economic investments and growth in both countries.
  • United States needs to share the burdens of regulating the “global commons” based on international norms and rules. This is especially critical in the Asia-Pacific region. Who could provide a better partnership in this aspect but India, with a growing military capability and fast-emerging naval power? India’s defense budget for the year 2015-2016 was $40 billion, ranking it amongst the top militaries in the world.
  • India’s experience in handling enormous population diversity, including being home to the second largest Muslim population in the world (177 million), and slotted to be the largest in the world by 2050(311 million), may offer some vital lessons to the United States given its growing diverse populations. Despite some challenges, India has remained united, and its diversity has become its strength today.
  • In surveys of social attitudes across the world., India comes out as a country with some of the most favorable social attitudes toward the United States. People-to-people contact is on the rise, as well as academic and cultural exchanges. The Indian American diasporaof three million has also proved an asset in supporting better relationship between the two countries.

Conclusion-

India’s demotion strategically in Washington suggests that New Delhi must renew and deepen relationships elsewhere, particularly in Europe, which has stabilised since the spate of recent elections and will stabilise further when, as appears likely, Angela Merkel is re-elected. Cultivating Japan further and resetting India’s relations with Moscow is another priority.

 


Topic: Functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

4) The Finance Bill, 2017 included amendments to legislation on multiple subjects, in an attempt to rationalise the functioning of multiple tribunals. What do you understand by rationalisation of tribunals? Discuss its implications. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

The recently passed Finance Bill, 2017, had a number of provisions concerning rationalization of tribunals. The rationalization has been attempted through merger of tribunals. example: Merger of Competition Appellate Tribunal with the National Company Law Tribunal, merger of the Cyber Law Appellate Tribunal with the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal, etc.

Rationalization of tribunals-

Rationalization of tribunals means an attempt to streamline the functioning of tribunals by adopting various reforms, such as reduction in their structural complexity, or by merging one tribunal with another. The basic purpose of rationalization is to enhance their performance with regard to adjudication of various matters.

Implications-

  • It can help in better performance, through restructuring of personnel, and with reformed procedures.
  • This could also help in providing uniform service conditions and salary structure.
  • It could also lead to increased efficiency in adjudication, and reduction in delays.
  • The unwieldy nature of many tribunals that were set up without prior consideration, has been addressed to an extent, promoting administrative convenience.
  • Preventing overlapping of functions. For e.g. Competition Appellate Tribunal (Compat) will be merged with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal. Since both deal with similar matters, it will particularly help in cases where a single transaction is overseen by both. Eg. Idea-Vodafone merger.

 

Some concerns-

  • The concept of separation of powers will be affected, as the direct control of central government over the existing tribunals is not exactly desirable.
  • The improper treatment of the presiding officers of these tribunals, who in most cases belong to the judiciary, is being considered as a threat to judicial independence.
  • Possible adverse impact on the nature of appointments, tenure, and pattern of removal of members.
  • Most importantly, the winding up of adjudicatory tribunals, through the tool of a money bill, is indeed questionable, and sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

Conclusion-

The tribunals function in a polity to uphold the basic laws and regulations pertaining to the sector that they are meant to adjudicate. Their quasi-judicial duties are indeed important in a society that demands increased regulation of critical sectors such cyber law, financial sector, etc. Hence, rationalization can be attempted, but in accordance with the acceptable norms, and with an intention to extend government control over their functioning, and by curbing their status and independence.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic Cybersecurity basics

5) The Indian government has embarked on a programme to turn the country into a digital economy. Briefly discuss these programs, the threats they face from cyber-criminals and hackers and measures needed to safeguard digital data and transactions. (200 Words)

Livemint

 

Introduction-

The Indian government has embarked on a programme to turn the country into a digital economy. It has unveiled a series of initiatives—from introducing Digital Locker, which eliminates the need for people to carry hard copies of documents issued by the government, to demonetization, which has spurred the use of digital payments across the country. The move towards a digital economy is likely to help trigger a fresh wave of economic growth, attract more investment, and create new jobs, across multiple sectors.

Programs-

  • Digital India Programme: It is nation-wide programme, in the form of a vision plan to achieve the digitization of the economy, by enabling provision of digital services, promoting digital literacy, and by encouraging the growth of start-ups dealing with digital technologies.
  • Digital Locker:This initiative eliminates the need for people to carry the hard copies of the certificates issued by states, municipal agencies, and other bodies. Birth certificates, school and college leaving certificates, residence and marriage proof, and even PAN cards will be digitized. For this, the government is expected to roll out a national depository that will hold these records.
  • Digital Life Certificates:The ‘Jeevan Pramaan’ scheme launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a sigh of relief to a million of retired government employees. With this, the pensioner will do away with the requirement of submitting a physical life certificate in November each year and can now digitally provide proof of their existence to authorities for continuity of pension every year. 
  • Bharatnet: The objective of this scheme is to ensure internet connectivity in the 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country, and which had replaced the NOFN( National Optical Fiber Network) programme. 
  • Digital Boost to MGNREGA: Another commendable initiative is the digital boost to the flagship rural job scheme MNREGA. A total of 35,000 gram panchayats are covered to ensured better implementation through mobile monitoring system. This initiative will help the implementation agencies with live data from the worksites, an online and real-time updation of data base, real-time visibility of the data for complete transparency, and location of assets with geo-tagging for easy verification.
  • Madad (Help):Launched by the External Affairs Minister, the portal ‘Madad’ will enable Indian citizens living abroad to file consular grievances online to address the complaints promptly. The initiative will speed up forwarding and handling of complaints, improve tracking and redressal and escalate unresolved cases.
  • SMS-Based Cyclone Warning System: As part of the Digital India initiative, this program is to create an SMS-based weather information and disaster alert system. Information on warnings will be disseminated to officials involved in administration, district magistrates/collectors besides fisherman, farmers, and general public.
  • Online Facility for Firms to File Single Return: In an effort to ease down the complexities of doing business and reduce cost, the Labor Ministry launched an online facility for firms to file a common return on its portal to comply with as many as eight labor laws at one go.
  • eMoney:The Department of Posts (DoP) has planned to provide electronic money order service to 70% of its total post offices by December. According to officials, this service will enable India Post to remit money next day to the doorstep that earlier took about a week. Also, it will make the whole process secure and fast. People can send a maximum of Rs 5,000 through e-money order. 
  • PRAGATI: It is an interactive platform launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for public grievances redressal. It is aimed at monitoring and reviewing programs and projects of the Government of India as well as state government initiatives and also addressing common man’s grievances. This step is expected to make governance in India more efficient and responsive.

Threat from cyber-criminals and hackers-

  • The cost of cyberattacks in India currently stands in excess of Rs25,000 crore ($4billion). It is important to note that there are many cyberattacks that go undetected and unreported as well, so this number could be much higher.
  • Data-theft: Lack of resilient cyber security standards may result in data-theft.
  • Cyber ransom: The data is held at ransom by the cyber-security attackers till their vested interests are met.
  • The existing firewall systems have shown the lacunae in them with the recent cyber attacks like WannaCry and Petya that brought several systems and services to a grinding halt in various parts of the globe.
  • Since a huge data is now stored online, any security breach can lead to sensitive data theft which may lead to loss of faith of millions in the digital space.
  • The losses emanate from operational disruptions, loss of sensitive information and designs, customer churn and impact on brand image, as well as increase in legal claims and insurance premium.

Measures needed to safeguard digital data and transactions-

  • It is also important that government organizations, financial institutions and companies run regular stress tests, which simulate real-life attacks. This can help identify places in the environment (systems, data, etc.) which will be affected the most in case of attacks and assess the organization’s detection and response preparedness.
  • Further, organizations need to start cooperating with peers to learn from each other’s experiences—identify potential attack scenarios, identify hidden threats and co-develop a security framework.
  • Organizations also need to enlist their employees in the fight against breaches. There is a need to change the perception of cybersecurity from being a passive agent, to an active business enabler. It is a must to ensure active participation across the organization.
  • The regulators need to ensure they are covering all aspects at their end. This includes regulations that set minimum standards on cybersecurity for companies across the country. Maybe, even some rating system that classifies companies based on their preparedness on this front.
  • At the same time, tough laws are needed to be put in place for perpetrators of cybercrime to ensure such criminals are deterred effectively.

Conclusion-

India is sitting on the cusp of digital evolution. The government has overcome its detractors with an eagle-eyed focus to achieve this goal for the country. It is now up to companies to ensure they are ready and prepared to harness and exploit the opportunities this evolution will bring. The only way to do that is to ensure that cybersecurity finds its way into the boardroom agenda.

 


Topic: Energy

6) Compare and contrast which is more suitable for India – nuclear power or solar power. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

While advanced countries like France and Germany are reducing their share of nuclear energy, India is moving ahead with plans to produce it more. When options of cheap renewable energies are opening up, India’s quest for nuclear energy is being looked with skepticism and wisdom behind it is being questioned.

Nuclear power Vs Solar power-

Benefits of Nuclear power vis-à-vis Solar and other renewable energies-

  • Solar power is available only when the sun is shining unless it is stored in some way. In a year, a solar PV plant of one KW capacity generates no more than 2,000 KWh of electricity, whereas a coal-based or nuclear plant can generate around 7,000 KWh/year per KW of capacity. To provide power when the sun is not shining, we need some balancing power which could be definitely nuclear one.
  • India’s potential for hydro power is 150,000 MW at 35 per cent load factor that means around 460 billion units per year. It is unevenly distributed across months. The generation from run-of-the river plants during the lean month may be as low as 10 per cent of generation during the peak month.
  • Nuclear plants have been run in the past with more or less constant load. However, with some design change it should be possible to run them in a load following mode. France has been operating some nuclear plants in this mode.
  • The cost of nuclear electricity will depend on how it is financed. With a capital cost of Rs 10 crore per MW, with a debt/equity ratio of 4/1, debt interest of 12 per cent, return on equity of 15 per cent, and annual generation of 7,000 MWh, the capital charge is Rs 2.10/kWh. The operating cost at 2.5 per cent of capital cost comes to Rs 0.36/kWh and fuel cost for pressurised heavy water reactor is Rs 0.16/kWh. The total cost is Rs 2.62/kWh.
  • If we compare these with similar financing charges of solar PV with storage that gives 6,000 MWh/year it will cost Rs 2.75/unit and cheap storage systems are yet to be developed.

Solar and other renewable energy vis-à-vis nuclear-

  • Prices for solar power have dropped below those of nuclear power. For example, the winning bid at the auction for the Bhadla Phase-IV Solar Park in Rajasthan held last month was Rs. 2.44 per unit, which is fixed for 25 years. This is not an isolated example, but part of a trend of falling prices in the renewable sector.
  • Nuclear power poses its own set of threats to the environment and public health. All nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste materials because each fission event involving nuclei of uranium or plutonium gives rise to radioactive elements called fission products. Some of these remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Despite decades of research, nuclear waste remains an unavoidable long-term problem for the environment.
  • Nuclear reactors are also capable of catastrophic accidents, as witnessed in Fukushima and Chernobyl. 
  • Solar energy and other renewable energies do not come with such high socio-economic and environmental costs.
  • Further job creation capacity in renewable energy sector is more than nuclear sector. A widely cited study by three analysts from the University of California, Berkeley, found that nuclear power created only 0.14 job-years per gigawatt-hour of electricity produced. In contrast, solar photovoltaic sources were more than six times as labour intensive, creating about 0.87 job-years per gigawatt-hour of electricity. 

Way forward-

Considering above arguments it is clear that both the energy sectors have their own positives and negatives. Hence discarding any one of them completely could be harmful for India’s high energy demands at present. Though development of renewable energy is always a better deal, such infrastructure cannot be set up in short time. Further India is short of oil, gas and even coal. More than 70 per cent of petroleum products, 40 per cent of gas and 20 per cent of coal consumption are based on imports. India’s known extractable coal reserves will run out in about 40 years if our coal consumption keeps growing as it has over the past 25 years.

Thus India needs to keep the nuclear power option alive. For India, from a long-term perspective, renewable energy is inevitable and nuclear option should be retained as insurance.

 


Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

7) Do you support the Union Cabinet’s ‘in-principle’ approval for the sale of Air India and five of its subsidiaries? Substantiate. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Background-

Air India was supposed to be the national air-carrier which represented India and made us proud. However, it has come to be the symbol of public sector lethargy, corruption, inefficiency and become a national shame. Poor management over the years has put it into a huge debt at a time when Air traffic has been growing at more than 10% in India. It continues to operate many unviable and economically unfeasible routes while losing the most profitable ones to new private players.

Air India has been surviving on a Rs. 30,000-crore bailout package put together by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2012 to help its turnaround, and the debt relief provided by public sector banks. The airline has a debt load of over Rs. 50,000 crore on its books, and it is estimated that even a well-executed asset sale may not fully cover its present liabilities.

Arguments in favor-

  • The quality of its service has gone considerably down in past few years. The ratio of flights cancelled or delayed is highest among all operators for Air India.
  • As it is bailed out by government every time, it has no incentives to take on other private airlines commercially.
  • Continuation of Airline questions the wisdom of government as government should have no interest in running the airline which is persistently registering the losses and government had to invest tax-payers valuable money for making up its losses.
  • Government money that keeps Air India from going bankrupt would be much better used to fund important social and infrastructure programmes that are starved of precious capital each year.
  • Air India is also accused of many corruption charges particularly during the merger of Indian airlines and Air India. The governmental impunity has brought bad name for Air India.
  • One of the objectives of introducing the private players in aviation was also to create competition for Air India and to make it more competitive. However the Air India has failed miserably to reform itself.
  • Disinvestment rationale: AI sits on prime real estate, beside holding other valuable assets. Its sale would largely be self-financing, besides freeing up valuable capital to cater to other developmental priorities.

Arguments against-

  • It runs flights even on economically unfeasible routes which are important from strategic perspective and where no other airlines would cater to the passengers.
  • Air India has in past been involved in major rescue operations such as in Kuwait, something which no private flyer would ever engage so actively.
  • Many believe it is essential for the government to hold on to it due to some of the extraneous opportunities and services it offers.

Conclusion-

Government has taken politically courageous decision to privatize the Air India. However many challenges lie ahead as how to carry out its privatization. The main question remains is that whether government sells it out rightly or sells majority stakes. Further, whether foreign players would be allowed to participate remains to be seen. Overall this is the welcome move and government must proceed cautiously.