Letters to the Editor dated November 30, 2019

| Updated on November 29, 2019 Published on November 29, 2019

International trade

This is with reference to ‘End of multilateralism?’(November 29). Post the 2008 downturn, nations — while readily reworking and sharing expertise in monetary and fiscal policies — inexplicably remained diffident in addressing aberrations in policies regarding international trade. The shift in trade components and trans-national issues, change in epicentres of growth and relentless invasion of new technologies have sharply altered volume and direction of trade flows. Tariff policies, tailored to traditional manufacturing, proved less relevant as digital technology and weak labour protection rapidly skewed cost-competitiveness.

An eon after its genesis as GATT, the WTO found that issues of tariff barriers, subsidies etc had decreasing adherents. That Brexit is being approached with angst rather than sane pragmatism is a clear example of the on-going perplexity over formal trade organisations and their efficacy. The Trump “doctrine of repudiation” abruptly jeopardises pacts and agreements painstakingly put in place. Perhaps we need to go back and reinvent the wheel.

R Narayanan

Navi Mumbai

Air India disinvestment

This refers to ‘Sell Air India in a prudent fashion, don’t shut it’ (See thehindubusinessline.com). There can’t be two opinions about the fact that the Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri’s ‘sell or shutdown’ ultimatum for Air India has caused a flutter. Does it not truly reflect the government’s continued frustration over its own inability to move on from Air India’s extant messy situation? However, it is true that it’s tough to argue in favour of running a perpetually loss-making airlinewhile arguing in favour of its complete disinvestment. Needles to say, the government must not lose sight of its earlier failed attempts to sell the airline, which made a big dent on its image not only domestically but globally too.

It also goes without saying that any dubious game plan to ‘shut down’ the ill-fated Air India may possibly have some far reaching adverse effects. So the only plausible solution is an astutely planned/well articulated ‘outright’ sale, but not a distress one.

The government should also consider introducing a ‘Voluntary Retirement Scheme’ for the Air India staff on the pattern of BSNL. Who knows, Air India may soon witness the much needed turnaround and also find some genuinely interested buyers.

SK Gupta

New Delhi

Student politics

This is with reference to ‘Academics under attack’ (November 29). The facts unveiled by the Free to Think 2019 report covering the surge in attacks on scholars and students in India is really disturbing and a cause of concern. India reckoned the growing number of youth and the knowledge base of young scholars whose innovations par technological excellence reaffirms its solid position among world powers. Heritage educational institutions like JNU are well known for discipline and standards. Unfortunately, of late, much ruckus in these institutions backed by vested interests and the brutal force utilised by the State administration change the focus of students from learning to politics and revolution, which may not be a healthy sign for the country.

Sitaram Popuri


Batting on RBI’s pitch

It was intriguing to learn that the Finance Ministry now wants the Reserve Bank of India to set up a fund to buy out stressed assets of the country’s top 25 shadow lenders. The central bank has also reportedly been asked to consider a one-time waiver to banks from classifying some real estate loans as bad loans. It’s a different matter that the RBI has quite prudently opposed the idea of opening its balance sheet to buy toxic assets of the non-banking finance companies.

However, the said opposition may largely remain only on paper, as the incumbent chief Shaktikanta Das, happens to be an ex-bureaucrat from the Finance Ministry and is likely to ‘fall in line’.

It may be recalled that the government had earlier too pressurised the RBIover the highly contentious issue involving the transfer of its so-called surplus reserves.

Kumar Gupt

Panchkula, Haryana

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Published on November 29, 2019
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