oppn parties Sick PSU's: Bengal Shows the Way

News Snippets

  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
  • Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress postpone meeting the governor of Maharashtra
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Sick PSU's: Bengal Shows the Way

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s saying “what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow” might not be relevant today with the continued lumpenization of society in the state. But a recent decision of the Bengal government under Mamata Banerjee has come like a whiff of fresh air. The government has decided to close down 3 sick PSU’s in the state and is likely to rethink strategy on a number of other such units. This is in stark contrast to the previous inflexible stance of both the Left Front and TMC governments, despite these units being a huge drain on the state treasury. The units presently identified for liquidation are Neo Pipes and Tubes, National Iron & Steel Company and Lily Products. Another unit, Durgapur Chemicals, will either be similarly liquidated or a stake sell-off will be done.

This is one of the most progressive decisions of the Mamata Banerjee government, especially since even the Centre is unwilling to let go of loss-making concerns like Air India and BSNL. Although the NITI Aayog has submitted a list of 74 loss-making PSU’s and recommended liquidation of 26 of them, the central government is unwilling to learn from the past and is still willing to throw good money after bad in order to ‘revive’ some of these units. The simple fact is that given the deplorable work culture, flab, outdated technologies, bureaucratic management and regressive policies followed at these PSU’s, they are unlikely to ever become healthy again. The insistence on their revival means the promise of minimum government, maximum governance that Modi made is being scrapped. These units are a drain on government finances and should either be sold-off or liquidated, especially since with private airlines and private telecom operators having done in a short period what these public behemoths could not do in decades, the purpose for which they were established is no longer valid. The government has no business to be in business in this age and time.

Mamata Banerjee’s government has recognized this. It found out that all the three units being liquidated were not in production since a long time. They employed a total of 375 people but the government was paying them a salary of Rs 200 crore every year. Could there be any justification for continuing with this anti-social arrangement? This is a very bold and forward thinking initiative from an ultra socialist leader who had earned the sobriquet of “being more Left than the Left Front.” Mamata seems to have realized that wasting Rs 200 crore year after year for just 375 people is stupid, especially since this money could be better utilized for the various social schemes she has started. If this thinking can be carried forward, there is still hope for Bengal. There are several other concerns, like Calcutta Tramways Company and WBSTC to name just two, which are being mismanaged and draining the treasury. An expert committee can go into the workings of all such units and prudent decisions can be taken on them. Bengal can then show the way to India.