Sri Lanka crisis

This refers to ‘Anarchy in Sri Lanka’ (July 11). The editorial forcefully brings out the possible role India can and should play, to help Sri Lanka tide over the present crisis. India’s self-interest apart, from a humanitarian angle and in the interest of preserving democracy, India must help the people of Sri Lanka survive the crisis, which is a fallout of greed and hunger for power of the leadership.

India has been making the right noises from the start of the Sri Lankan crisis, but in such emergencies, every hour counts.

MG Warrier


Policy missteps

The Sri Lankan crisis is indeed unfortunate and tragic. Hopefully it will be resolved soon and the island nation can return to normalcy. Here, there are lessons for politicians and policymakers all over. In addition to the collapse of tourism/remittances from Sri Lankans overseas and dampened tea exports, several policy missteps hurt the country.

A series of populist measures, including the slashing of VAT rates, raising exemption limits, reduction in income tax rates along with raising the threshold exemption limits dried up the country’s tax income, leaving little resources to repay debt.

While such populist measures may help politicians garner votes and continue enjoying the perks of office, they hurt the country and citizens in the medium to long term. While demanding reduction in petrol, diesel and LPG prices despite rising international rates, we must remember the plight of Lankan citizens.

V Vijaykumar


Privatisation of PSBs

Apropos ‘PSB Privatisation Bill isn’t a magic wand’ (July 11), no doubt privatisation is not the panacea for all ills. If that were the case, no private bank would have faced bad times.

YES Bank is the most recent example. Depositors do have a sense of security and comfort parking their money in public sector banks. And with the surge in private sector banks, the service standards of PSBs have also improved significantly.

PSBs have seen NPAs rise significantly in the last few years, but privatisation will not help solve the problem. In the last year or two, there has been merger of a few smaller public sector banks, and some time should be given to see if this produces positive results.

Privatisation, if undertaken, should not be on a mass scale as public deposits are involved and employees’ interests should also be taken into account.

Bal Govind


Valuation is key

The enabling provision in the Bill for the government to reduce its stake from 51 per cent at present to zero by itself will not help privatisation of PSBs. The strengths and weaknesses and potential for growth of these banks will be the major factors.

The government may still like to hold nominal stake of about 26 per cent in these banks looking for improved valuation at a future date, which may be acceptable to the bidders.

However, complete management control needs to be divested and for that the RBI has to decide on the entrustment of banking business to corporate houses. It will not be impossible to identify the right buyers for PSBs but valuation will be the key. As balance sheets of banks look better now with reduced NPAs, it is the right time for privatisation of PSBs.

M Raghuraman


Encourage natural farming

This reference to ‘Natural farming will be a huge success’ (July 11). The country can promote natural farming by motivating the youth to take up agriculture and allied activities. Rather than provide subsidies and freebies, the rural people should be trained to take up agriculture as a profession. The government should take the initiative by improving our agricultural universities and setting up more universities for teaching/encouraging agriculture.

Introducing agriculture as a subject at the school level itself will be helpful in motivating children to pursue this field. Experts who are not for the use of harmful pesticides to increase yield should be roped in to train farmers in natural farming. Also, encouraging innovations and research will go a long way in improving our agriculture and related activities.

Veena Shenoy