Letters to the Editor dated May 22, 2020

| Updated on May 22, 2020

Public sector divestment

Apropos the article ‘Why privatisation needs to wait, for now’ (May 21), it was India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who declared that ‘the public sector would occupy the commanding heights of the Indian economy’.

While most of the so-called ‘Ratnas’ are still doing well, the remaining public sector enterprises (PSEs) are anything but models in their areas of operation, plagued by corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, inefficiency and militant trade unionism. Though bank nationalisation proved to be a boon with regard to the implementation of government-sponsored schemes, mounting NPAs necessitating frequent capital infusion has made some public sector banks a drain on the exchequer.

Post the 1991 liberalisation in India, with the entry of private players in sectors such as airlines and telecom, enterprises like Air India and BSNL, which were monopolies hitherto, turned into bottomless pits that could not be turned around, despite taxpayers’ money pumped into them. However, now may not be the opportune time for the privatisation of such units, with no takers in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The right time to sell or shut down the white elephants will be when normalcy is restored.

V Jayaraman


Not the time for privatisation

Indeed, public sector enterprises are in the doldrums. Lack of leadership, constant rotation of the top brass, poor governance and corruption are the major hurdles facing public sector enterprises. But in the current pandemic situation, it is not advisable to intensify divestment as it will further hurt the huge labour force in the public sector and the private sector too, weakened by the lockdown, may not be in a position to invest in the divesting firms. The privatisation agenda needs to be put off for at least a couple of years.

NR Nagarajan


Data on migrants

This refers to ‘Put people first’ (May 21). In tackling the Covid pandemic, the government did not account for migrant workers walking hundreds of kilometres to reach to their homes.

This is mainly because it did not have the complete details of all the migrant labour working across the country. Recently, the authorities in Noida established a labour bank to create a database of all workers living in NCR, so that as and when any work comes they can be called upon.

This kind of database is required across the country. Also, key stakeholders like local panchayats, MLAs and MPs should play a critical role in not only providing assistance to migrant workers but also in creating the above database which will become more than handy in future. Decentralisation is the key.

Bal Govind


Stifling dissent

The alarming frequency with which some State governments deploy draconian instruments of law to criminalise dissent during this very challenging time of Covid-19 pandemic is a matter of grave concern. A toxic mix of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, a statute that does not actually define a pandemic but provides immunity to the actions taken under it from legal proceedings, the Disaster Management Act 2005 and Section 144 of CrPC is now being arbitrarily misused to ride roughshod over the freedom of the media. Dissent is the true strength and an important feature of a vibrant democracy. Attempts to stifle and criminalise dissent by invoking the provisions of sedition law and several other archaic provisions cannot be allowed to succeed.

M Jeyaram

Sholavandan, TN


Credit for MSMEs

This refers to the news report ‘Emergency credit for MSMEs: Interest rate capped at 9.24-14%’ (May 21). Among the various stimulus measures initiated by the Finance Minister, this is a good one. The revival of MSMEs is important not for the owners but also for the public. Many items of day-to-day use are produced by MSMEs. The restarting of MSMEs will also help generate a large number of jobs, which is crucial now.

TR Anandan


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Send your letters by email to bleditor@thehindu.co.in or by post to ‘Letters to the Editor’, The Hindu Business Line, Kasturi Buildings, 859-860, Anna Salai, Chennai 600002.

Published on May 22, 2020

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