Public sectorTHE role played by public sector undertakings (PSUs) since Independence was well brought out in the series of articles in the Cover Story (“Selling the family silver”, February 5). Before Independence, large business houses started banks and insurance companies, and the small savings collected from people were used to promote their private enterprises. Public good was not their concern ever. After nationalisation, their services have spread even to the villages and they have played a significant role in nation-building.
The government’s present exercise of diluting its holdings in PSUs is not just a case of selling the family silver to buy groceries but amounts to squandering its resources wastefully. It is hoped that the money earned by selling the government’s share in PSUs will not be used to meet the budgetary deficit but to support nation-building ventures.
Since Indira Gandhi’s days, Reliance has been the apple of the eye of whosoever has governed the country. Enriching Reliance at the cost of ONGC is not only a sin but a crime against the people of the country.
S.S. Rajagopalan, Chennai
THE public sector has been abused and battered over the years by the Centre’s poor policy decisions. The government may be facing a huge fiscal deficit, but taking the easy way out is not the solution. That the public sector, the true asset of the nation, is being pledged to private players is cause for serious concern. Due care and caution need to be exercised in the coal sector in the wake of the coalgate scam.
Indiscriminate sand mining is a glaring example of natural resources becoming a pawn in the hands of a few influential people. Let the private sector grow, but let us not clip the wings of the public sector, for it has done monumental service to the nation.
Balasubramaniam Pavani, Secunderabad, Telangana
THE special issue captured well the NDA government’s policy direction. What is happening in the banking sector is worth a special mention. The steps being initiated by the government do not augur well for the beleaguered economy. The government is hell-bent on placing obstructions in the path of public sector banks (PSBs) without considering the implications for their survival. The aim is to tilt the playing field as much as possible against the public sector.
The fight for survival has begun, and it remains to be seen who will gain the upper hand in the days to come.
Sunil Gadepalli, Pune, Maharashtra
IT is strange that even profit-making PSUs are sold to the private sector—Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) was sold a few years back to a big industrial house. In fact, profit-making PSUs should take over the loss-making ones. That will be an ideal solution.
I recall what the late Prime Minister Jawarharlal Nehru said: “Public sector units are like temples, and they should be worshipped.”
Family silver should never be sold. Efforts should be made to revive the loss-making PSUs. They are sitting on a gold mine—big chunks of land. HMT was the first company in the nation to bring affordable watches to the people when watches were not being made in India. Why sell the PSUs when the government has launched a “Make in India” campaign?
Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai
THE Centre is clearly trying to set the clock back with its attempts to weaken PSBs. The measures announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to revamp PSBs through an action plan called “Indradhanush” pose a danger to the public-sector character of banks. The P.J. Nayak Committee recommendations, the basis of these measures, are a recipe for disaster. Going ahead with the recommendations will only result in the total corporate control of PSBs.
The need of the hour is adequate capital infusion and strict recovery measures against corporate defaulters. There is an urgent need to amend recovery laws to take the menace of non-performing assets head on.
The fact that the government is not taking the major trade unions into its confidence exposes its real agenda. Although PSBs are weighed down by a number of factors that affect their profitability, there is no reason to panic yet.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan, Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu
THERE was a serious security breach and intelligence failure in the case of the attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot (“Desperate act”, February 5). It may be described as a “desperate” act, but it showed the fault lines in our security and intelligence systems. To expect an end to cross-border terror attacks is asking for too much as “non-state actors” do not respect national boundaries. Their aim is to cause as much damage as possible with minimum investment.
That it took three days for the security forces to neutralise six terrorists is another cause for concern. We need to increase border patrols and prevent incursions. A lot of time elapsed between the entry of the terrorists into our country and the actual attack on the base, a fact that needs to be probed.
While continuing talks with Pakistan, India has to be alert and vigilant all the time. Joint investigation of such attacks would be a confidence-building measure.
D.B.N. Murthy, Bengaluru
THE time is now ripe for India and Pakistan to discuss all outstanding bilateral issues. Both countries have vast natural and human resources at their command and these issues have been coming in the way of their utilisation. It will not be easy and the results will not be immediate, but it is important to begin the process of dialogue on major areas such as the economy and terrorism.
P. Senthil Saravana Durai, Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu
JUST as a leopard cannot change its spots and a tiger its stripes, Pakistan’s hostility towards India will not change despite initiatives to improve bilateral relations. The attack by suspected Pakistan-based militants on the Pathankot Air Force base is ample testimony to Pakistan’s hostility towards India. The attack has yet again exposed the true colours of our unpredictable, unreliable and hostile neighbour. It can only be construed as a crude and calculated attempt to derail the new-found bonhomie between the two countries.
B. Suresh Kumar, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
THE article on Facebook’s so-called “Free Basics” looked at the issue from ethical and technical perspectives, exposing Facebook’s plan to entice gullible users and lock them into using its services and benefit from mining the mega data that they generate (“Neither free nor basic”, February 5).
There is more to it than meets the eye. Facebook is just trying to capitalise on the poor spread, the slow bandwidth speeds and the high cost of the Internet in rural areas. India ranks a poor 139 among 179 countries for Internet penetration. The government’s indifference to ensuring Internet penetration has led to private players stepping in, trampling on net neutrality, users’ freedom and privacy. Discriminatory access to the Internet will create multiple strata of users, privileging their access on the basis of monetary factors. The use of the Internet and the choice of its contents should not be dictated by service providers and telecom companies.
Making low-cost high-speed Internet access available to people across the country will prevent exploitation of consumers by companies such as Facebook.
B. Rajasekaran, Bengaluru
THE Supreme Court’s stay on the Central government’s notification allowing jallikattu in Tamil Nadu has evoked emotional responses (“Bull and politics”, February 5). With elections around the corner, these reactions also have political connotations. The ban was revoked because the government of Tamil Nadu had appealed to the Centre, saying that the ban on the age-old sport of valour would hurt the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu.
But I have seen live broadcasts of jallikattu on private TV channels and was shocked to see the way in which the animals were tortured. It was painful to see the bulls and the men being injured, all for the sake of cash awards.
Animal rights activists should also look into the issue of old cows, bullocks and calves being transported under intolerable conditions to Kerala.
A.J. Rangarajan, Edison, New Jersey, U.S.