Editorial 1 / Right to count
Editorial 2 / Above factions
A fine balance
Fifth Column / All tangled up in red tape
Trail of blood shifts to the east
Letters to the editor

 
 
EDITORIAL 1 / RIGHT TO COUNT 
 
 
 
 
The 14th census of the Indian population was inaugurated last week with fanfare. The census operations are, no doubt, significant. India is one of the few countries which holds a decennial census. This is an unbroken tradition going back to 1872 when the first census was held. This is also the biggest census operation in the world since China has abandoned the idea of a census and has adopted the sample survey mode of keeping track of its population. In India, the census operations involve a billion people, six hundred thousand villages and 5000 towns; 20 lakh enumerators will traverse the length and breadth of India to record various types of information. Another significant aspect of the current census is the information it will record about disabled persons. This is the first time that the disabled are being brought into the ambit of the census operations. The original decision of the census commissioner was not to include the disabled. He suggested for them a sample survey. A number of organizations who work with the disabled rallied together to act as a protest and a pressure group, and this forced the hand of the census commissioner to include the disabled.

Census eliminates sample error since it does a complete enumeration. It also records an enormous amount of subsidiary data about profession, income, marital status, educational qualifications, caste and religion. The nature of the queries are not above controversy as the census workers are discovering. It surprises nobody that some people are reluctant to part with information which they consider personal: their religious beliefs or their marital status are two obvious examples. It is also amazing that in a country which does not recognize the caste system as a valid basis for policy formulation should assiduously record the caste of its citizens. The latter will be entirely justified in refusing to answer such questions. Built into the census is the assumption of co-operation between the census officials and the rest of the population. The former cannot appear to be like the agents of the state as this might lead to alarm and withdrawal. There is always the fear of the state as a big brother constantly looking over its citizens’ shoulders. Such fears are exacerbated in the computer age when it is so convenient to preserve and retrieve data.

It has to be accepted that since its origin, the census has been an operation initiated by the state for its own convenience. It allows the state to order the society over which it rules. It makes the society legible by ordering the population by way of age, sex, occupation, income, religion, caste and so on. The census rationalizes and standardizes what is a complex reality into a format which is administratively more convenient. By definition, therefore, a census can never reflect the richness and the variety of the society it seeks to order. Data from the census represents only that slice of society which interests an official observer in a given context of government policy. Inevitably, the census is a record of what the state considers worth recording and not of what the citizens want recorded about themselves. To see society through the census is to see like the state. The census is one more instance of the innumerable ways in which the state impinges on the lives of the people and seeks to control them. Sceptics about the state will continue to ponder about the ways to reduce the role of the state in Indian society.

   

 
 
EDITORIAL 2 / ABOVE FACTIONS 
 
 
 
 
Those who believe that retirement is the end of usefulness and fame can now take heart. The former chief minister of West Bengal, Mr Jyoti Basu, has shown that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West Bengal still cannot do without him. If rumours and reports, and the now off now on statements of the state transport minister, Mr Subhas Chakraborty, were anything to go by, the party was on the verge of losing him and consequently, his large following. Mr Basu changed all that by inducting Mr Chakraborty into the core group of the party’s North 24 Parganas district committee. Success breeds success, because now Mr Basu has persuaded Mr Samir Putatunda, the rebellious general secretary of the CPI(M) South 24 Parganas district committee, not to walk over the threshold of Mr Saifuddin Chowdhury’s new outfit. Mr Basu’s new role has glorious precedents, since retired statesmen often take on the role of peacemakers and unofficial ambassadors. It is the scaling down of that role to fit the requirements of one party in one state that makes it so fascinating. His stature as elder statesman and function as ballot magnet have both been fruitfully deployed in holding the party together before the assembly elections. Retirement seems to have added a further dimension to Mr Basu’s seniority. He is a better peacemaker now than he had been when the dissidents first became vocal within a fractious party.

Mr Basu’s peacemaking skills are sorely needed. The CPI(M) in West Bengal may be doing far better with the new chief minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, than its critics had hoped, but there are some things Mr Bhattacharjee cannot do anything about. The chief among these is an increasingly desperate Ms Mamata Banerjee, who is pulling out all stops to float the anti-CPI(M) mahajot. Whether or not the dissident leaders from the CPI(M) planned to join her, their exit from the party would have meant a division of the CPI(M) vote. With the districts still seething with memories of violence and the anticipation of more, the CPI(M) is less certain of itself than at other times. Mr Basu as peacemaker has gifted his party with greater certainty and protected it from the loss of a popular leader like Mr Chakraborty.

   

 
 
A FINE BALANCE 
 
 
BY S. VENKITARAMANAN
 
 
India’s balance of payments is sustained primarily by inflows under “invisibles”. The term, “invisibles”, refers to remittances for services rendered by India as Indians either in India or abroad. It includes inflows from expatriates, particularly in west Asia, as also payments for software. In addition, it covers earnings from tourism.

The magnitude of the invisibles’ support to BoP is significant as the trade deficit, being the difference between exports and imports of goods, is as high as $ 17 billion — under invisibles, the positive inflows are $ 13 billion. Taking these two together, the current account deficit, which is the difference between the exports of goods and services and imports, comes to $ 4 billion.

One can imagine what the situation would have been if the strong support from invisibles had not been available. India would have been in real trouble on the BoP front. In its January 2001 bulletin, the Reserve Bank of India has published a timely article on invisibles in India’s BoP.

Remittances by expatriate compatriots, especially those working in west Asia, are accounted as “private transfers”. These have ranged around $ 12 billion in each of the last three years. These private transfers, which have been cushioning the BoP over the years, are primarily remittances by non-resident Indians for family maintenance, as also their savings. These are sensitive to interest rates.

Earlier, a large part of private transfers used go to financing the import of gold and silver. As high an amount of $ 2 -3 billion accounted for in 1997-98 for such purposes. This amount has, however, decreased to a mere $ 13 million in 1999-2000, reflecting the full impact of liberalization of gold and silver imports through open general licence by designated agencies. Invisibles also include the beneficial effect of software exports which, according to the bulletin, amounted to $ 4 billion in 1999-2000. These exports have increased sharply from $ 1.76 billion in 1997-98 to $ 4 billion in 1999-2000. The rate of growth has been rather robust, at 50 per cent per annum. Whether this rate of growth will continue depends in turn on the fate of the information technology industry in the United States and other developed economies. Part of the remittances under private transfers is itself attributable to software services, representing the earnings of Indian compatriots residing abroad.

Receipts from tourism are relatively small compared to India’s potential attractiveness for global tourism. According to the RBI, receipts from tourism have ranged around $ 3 billion each year. Even smaller countries, such as Singapore and Thailand, earn much more. This is an area which required concerted action on all fronts, including airport facilitation, availability of flights and a visitor-friendly approach of all related services, such as immigration and customs.

One of the important conclusions of the RBI review is that on the account of “transportation”, which covers shipping and ports, invisibles show a sizeable negative balance. A conscious and integrated policy for encouraging Indian shipping can definitely help to improve the position under this head.

On the positive side, the head known as “investment income”, includes the earnings of the RBI from investment of foreign reserves, which had ranged from $ 1.1 billion in 1997-98 to $ 1.383 billion in 1999-2000. Under outgoes, we need to mention interest on payments of NRI deposits, which stood at roughly $ 1.42 to 1.7 billion. Overall, India pays out interest on a foreign debt of roughly $ 2.8 to 3 billion every year.

Financing of BoP clearly depends to a considerable extent on invisibles. But, after taking into account the invisibles, there still remains a gap, which is the current account deficit of roughly $ 4 billion. This is conventionally measured as a percentage of the gross domestic product. In our country’s case, the ratio to GDP is less than two per cent and is considered sustainable. In actual fact, however, the absolute current account deficit has to be met either by drawing down on reserves or by capital flows, either debt or equity.

The management of BoP in the last few years has been distinguished by the fact that foreign debt has not increased. The current account deficit has essentially been financed by inflows, which is equity in nature. These are primarily foreign direct investments and portfolio flows, which had amounted to as much as $ 5 billion annually during the recent period. While it is true that these additions to equity do not require repayment, especially in the form of interest, the fact remains that equity is also to be serviced. A judgment as to which is better, that is, resorting to debt or equity, has to await the burden of dividend and capital appreciation of the equity — which only time can tell.

In financing the current account deficit, we have also been depending on NRI deposits. Long-term NRI deposits account for roughly $ 14.5 billion. In relation to the total debt of about $ 98.4 billion, this is a reasonable proportion.

The latest RBI bulletin also assesses the total indebtedness of India. A favourable feature of India’s foreign debt is that the short-term debt is only $ 4 billion (four per cent). External commercial borrowing is also monitored and kept down at a reasonably low level, at 26 per cent. The remaining components of India’s foreign debt are debt owed to multilaterals 31.8 per cent and bilaterals 18 per cent, both of which are reasonably long term in nature and softer in terms of interest payments. The RBI notes that in the recent period, the loans taken from the International Monetary Fund in the early Nineties have been fully extinguished.

If we concede that invisibles will continue to remain steady, the BoP of India looks reasonably robust. This, in turn, depends on two factors — the sustainability of the demand for our software in the developed economies and secondly, the continuance of earnings of our expatriate Indians in west Asia. So far as the sustainability of infotech demand for software is concerned, a doubt has been cast as a result of the recent decline in the tech-related markets of the US. Capital spending by various corporates in the US has declined. If the US slides into a recession, there will be a serious impact on our software exports. There is need, therefore, for diversification of our destinations, especially to include Europe and Japan. We have also to take into account a likely competition from China and southeast Asia.

Overall, the sustainability of our BoP will depend on our capacity to increase exports as a whole to pay for our imports. This is particularly so, considering the flood of imports expected from China, in particular, and generally from the rest of the world, following our relaxation on quantitative restrictions. A concerned plan of action to increase our exports of goods and manage to contain our imports, especially of inessential items, is needed.

The fact that invisibles play an important part in our BoP is not often recognized, perhaps because they are grouped under the head “invisibles”. There is need for concerted attention at the highest level to the problems faced by our exporters of services. Equally important is the need to provide for adequate incentives to our expatriates to send remittances through formal channels and avoid returning to earlier practices of informal channels, that is, hawala. In the recent period, our bankers have been providing much better service than before, which partly explains an increase in the inflows of remittances from abroad. Eternal vigilance is necessary to ensure that bankers’ level of service is kept as high as possible.

The programme of export promotion involves a series of procedural and policy relaxations. This will hopefully claim the highest attention, especially of the finance minister, as he sits down to formulate the budget for 2001-2. Similarly, the RBI has to take steps to make credit more easily available and at softer terms to our exporters, particularly those dealing with software and other services.

Taking an overall view, according to experts in software industry, invisibles are poised to remain at the current high levels. It seems reasonable also to argue that equity capital flows will also remain at the current levels, if not increased further, following the less attractive stock market of the US. All this augurs well for the foreign exchange reserves of India and given the deft management of RBI, for a stable rupee. Whether a stable rupee will be good for exports of software and goods, is however a billion-dollar question. The RBI will have to suitably manage its exchange rate policy to give a good boost to exports without disturbing the macroeconomic stability on the inflation front.

The author is former governor, Reserve Bank of India    


 
 
FIFTH COLUMN / ALL TANGLED UP IN RED TAPE 
 
 
BY R.J. VENKATESWARAN
 
 
The lack of work culture in the government of West Bengal has received considerable publicity, especially after the new chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, announced serious measures to cure the malady. In this context, it is interesting to study the work culture in New Delhi and Washington, the administrative centres of the two largest democracies in the world.

The pre-budget economic survey for 1999-2000, released by the finance ministry, gives some idea of the work culture in the government of India: “Many of our administrative practices and methods have not changed since colonial times. We need to introduce urgently modern management practices in departments which provide well-defined services, such as post and telegraph, and have well-defined objectives, like tax collection.”

It is not only in the bureaucracy but also in the council of ministers that there is a lack of work culture. A group of ministers of state met the prime minister in January and complained to him that they did not have enough work.

There are 28 cabinet ministers and 40 ministers of state. Most of them have been chosen on personal, political and parochial considerations. Portfolios have been split up in a haphazard manner with no consideration for administrative efficiency. This is certainly not conducive to prompt and proper coordination among the Central ministries and between them and the state governments. It results in delays in implementing development schemes, especially those relating to infrastructure.

Unwieldy behemoth

In the United States, successive presidents have complained about their inability to get the sincere and wholehearted cooperation of the bureaucracy in implementing decisions. Some tried to reform the system but achieved little success.

In September 1985, the US News and World Report observed, “Bureaucrats are becoming the real rulers of America — the new mandarins who match in power the elite bureaucracy that served the emperors of China and controlled that nation for centuries. No one sees an effective answer to the increasingly long shadow that the federal bureaucracy — and the state and the local bureaucracy — is casting over the nation.”

N.A. Palkhivala, the former Indian ambassador to the US, gave interesting details about the size of the bureaucracy and its slovenly ways. Addressing a meeting in Mumbai in 1978, he said that in the US, as in India, “there are constant complaints about excessive regulation and control. There are no fewer than 87 federal entities that regulate US business and, to complete the 4,400 different forms they dispensed required 140 million man-hours of executive and clerical effort each year”.

US is no better

Palkhivala went on, “The ...federal register has ballooned in size to nearly 70,000 pages annually. Companies complain that many of the rules are unnecessary. At General Motors, for example, more than 20,000 employees work solely on government regulations. Hospitals are hard hit. In New York state, one-fourth of a patient’s bill is attributed to the expense of satisfying rules of 164 government agencies.”

Palkhivala added: “You find on many occasions that the bureaucracy in the US as in India has more information than knowledge, more knowledge than wisdom, and more intelligence than imagination. Washington DC has been called the ‘malfunction junction’ and I can name another city which deserves the title equally well.” He was referring to New Delhi.

In March 1993, the then president of the US, Bill Clinton, launched a programme to streamline the federal bureaucracy. He felt that the US had “too much to do that a wasteful and mismanaged government will not be able to do. Our goal is to make the entire federal government both less expensive and more efficient and to change the culture of national bureaucracy from complacency and entitlement towards initiative and empowerment”. He said the review would not result in “another report to gather dust in some warehouse”.

Five years later, Clinton claimed that his strategy had resulted in a substantial improvement in the working of the federal government. It remains to be seen whether George W. Bush is able to make the bureaucracy function at the highest level of efficiency.

   

 
 
TRAIL OF BLOOD SHIFTS TO THE EAST 
 
 
BY MANVENDRA SINGH
 
 
At this time, 10 years ago, the world’s attention was focussed on west Asia as the international coalition forces let loose an awesome air strike on Iraq. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was the catalyst of the most amazing mobilization of military assets and manpower. Removing the Iraqis from Kuwait was the sole factor that unified a myriad of nations. Ten years ago, Iraq was in the doghouse for an action of unacceptable violation, and the world got together to beat back its invasion. A Soviet Union existed in those days, but could do little to help its allies in Baghdad. Ten years later, a lot has happened. The world since then, and more so the region, has not been the same.

Once again there is a focus to the world’s attention. Once again there is an individual who threatens order and peace in the world. And once again there is a coalition coming together. The difference is that the focus of the world’s attention has shifted eastward from where it was in 1991. If there was Iraq in January 1991, there is the taliban Afghanistan in early 2001.

The similarity, however, ends just about there. For the taliban and their most favoured guest, Osama bin Laden, are not a threat to world peace by the physical occupation of territory and hydrocarbon resources. They, instead, threaten the world through the emotional and psychological occupation of the minds of men across dozens of countries. And in order to check this menace from expanding further, the emerging coalition has pushed through some of the toughest sanctions ever by the United Nations. And these sanctions pose a serious problem for those living with the taliban as neighbours, allies, and mentors.

The fear generated by the imposition of sanctions compelled Pakistan to call a meeting of its envoys from the neighbouring countries a day prior to the sanctions taking effect. After all, for the sanctions to be effective, Pakistan has to be on board, completely.

Then there is a one-month deadline for the taliban to deliver bin Laden. Until then there is a virtual blockade of taliban Afghanistan. And for that blockade to be effective Pakistan has to cooperate with the UN inspectors to see that the there is no leakage into Afghanistan. How Islamabad can be effective on that score is anybody’s guess.

What is certain is that Islamabad has to regulate precisely those that it has spawned. Having created the taliban from the flood of seminaries in Pakistan, it has now fallen upon Islamabad to control and manage the isolated Kandahar based regime. That, indeed, is asking for an enormous feat from Islamabad. This, however, is not the only test currently confronting Pakistan.

On January 26, the government of India extended the unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir. After having assessed the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, the government of India tested the waters vis-à-vis Pakistan and the groups it controls.

The voice of the Kashmiris was once made clear by the Hizbul-Mujahedin and its unilateral efforts at realizing peace. The extension of the Ramadan peace initiative was unilateral, without a reciprocal Pakistani action. The token troop withdrawal does not a peace process make, for the units moving from the line of control areas were in any case additional to what was already there.

They were accretions to the holding formations, on account of routine exercises, and Kargil related deployments. Both causes having been fulfilled, there was nothing really for them to do in these sectors. That Pakistani announcement, therefore, did not really make a contribution to the peace process. What Islamabad is going to be judged by is the conduct of the jehadi groups, both in Jammu and Kashmir, and elsewhere.

How the jehadis are behaving within Pakistan is hardly hidden from anyone, least of all the rulers in Islamabad. It is in Kashmir that their actions are a matter of concern, for two very simple reasons. First, they are not local and hence not representative of native aspirations since almost all hail from Pakistan. And second, the jehadis have been determined to provoke the security forces and destroy the peace process. Since the commencement of the Ramadan ceasefire initiative they have undertaken all sorts of actions to undermine the process.

The reason is not simply their aversion to peace, but a deep fear that when the process gets underway they will be left out. And “they” in this case is meant to be the mentors, the controllers, the trainers and the directing staff as well. Those that deal with the taliban are those that manage the Kashmir operations in Pakistan. This fact is plain since the end product in both cases is noticeably similar. How these forces can be expected to participate in a peace process is a barely concealed mystery. These groups have even denounced the efforts of the All Party Hurriyat Conference.

In the Kashmir valley it is hardly a secret that the Hurriyat is an organization created by Pakistan to lever itself into the politics of the state. And it is also not a secret that most of the Hurriyat leaders are personages unfit to be elected, even if Pakistan and its media continue to refer to them as the true representatives of the Kashmiri people. The Hurriyat does not represent even a minuscule portion of the residents of the valley, let alone the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The legitimacy accorded to the Hurriyat is restricted solely to the powers that be in Islamabad. If ever there was a need to talk to Pakistan about Kashmir, the Hurriyat is surely not the medium of exchange for the simple reason that both countries continue to have diplomatic relations and can have direct dialogue with each other. Even the jehadis have denounced the Hurriyat efforts to get into the mediator mode. So much for true representatives of the Kashmiri people. And so much for Pakistan’s efforts to impose itself on a situation where it can barely play a role conducive to peace in all senses of the word.

Where it can play that role is in the first jehad. If Islamabad really wants peace in Afghanistan it could indeed play a most constructive role. There is, of course, the proverbial “if”. After all, it was Pakistan that conceptualized, created, and then consigned the taliban into the Afghanistan quagmire. Juniors have a way of outgrowing the senior, and it is a matter of time, if not already too late, before the taliban is completely out of the management of Pakistan’s security bosses. India has had that experience in Punjab.

Once that happens, the jehad would go into an orbit difficult for Islamabad to even hope to influence. The repercussion, then, on the Kashmir jehad is plain to eye, what with the jehadis having already played their first solo over the Hurriyat visit. Two deadlines, to the east and west of Pakistan, do not make it cosy for its managers. It can only become cosy if it were to reciprocate in both directions. In that sense not much has changed in the region, only that the fulcrum of destabilization has shifted eastwards.

   

 
 
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 
 
 
 
 

Incorrect vision

Sir — When will the Congress get out of its self-deluding habits? Mani Shankar Aiyar in “A tale of two TMCs” (Feb 13) seems to suggest that both the Trinamool Congress and the Tamil Maanila Congress are enjoying a short holiday outside the Congress fold before they ultimately merge with the mother party again. It’s a dream that will turn into nightmare. Though the identity crisis of the Tamil Maanila Congress might continue, given its difficulty with the two major parties of the state, the Trinamool Congress is on a firmer ground than Aiyar would have us believe. In West Bengal, and the Congress high command might not want to see it, the Congress is likely to be swamped by Mamata Banerjee’s fledgling party or her brainchild, the mahajot. With an inefficient leader and serious inter-party divisions, the Congress in West Bengal is doomed. Aiyar is advised to look at things without his coloured glasses. It is the Congress which will need the Trinamool Congress for survival, not the other way round.
Yours faithfully,
J. Sen, Calcutta

No way to sail through

Sir — The editorial, “Steal frame” (Feb 9), betrays a complete lack of knowledge about the existing state of affairs at Burnpur. It is also shocking that the executives of the Indian Iron and Steel Company should be blamed for low productivity and ridiculed for their campaign for equal wages.

Till the early Sixties, Iisco was considered to be a blue-chip private company. Unfortunately, in the absence of further investment and technological upgradation, the condition of the plant started deteriorating from the late Sixties. The government of India took over its management in July 1972, with a pledge to make the company viable with suitable investments. The company became a subsidiary of the Steel Authority of India Limited in 1979.

However, since its takeover, the plant saw no major investments for its modernization. Iisco began suffering financial losses from 1990-91. It nevertheless made a remarkable turnaround in 1991-92 when its Burnpur works made a cash profit. But it was impossible to sustain the performance with the outdated technology, the age of the plant and increased competition

It would be unfair to hold the officers of Iisco responsible for the callousness of the government in implementing modernization. Without an investment of around Rs 1,500 crore, steel plants at Durgapur, Rourkela and Bhilai would not have survived.

After the intervention of the Calcutta high court in 1979, the management of Sail, Iisco and the Iisco Officers’ Association had agreed that all executives posted in Iisco would be at par with Sail executives with respect to salary, perquisites and service conditions. As a result of that agreement, a number of executives were transferred from the other units of Sail to Iisco and vice versa. Fresh executives would be trained by Sail and then recruited by these units. Iisco could no longer recruit executives separately. Applicants also had no choice in matters of transfer.

The executives of Sail are hardly superior to those in Iisco and the demands of the latter are justified. This has very little to do with emotion and a great deal to do with the pride of a hard working group. It was this group of executives which took the initiative to save the company from being sold off to a private company.

Yours faithfully,
S.K. Hajra Chaudhuri, general secretary, Steel Executives’ Federation of India, via email

Sir — The editorial, “ Steal frame”, only succeeds in humiliating Iisco executives and their families. Being an Iisco executive’s wife, I strongly object to the belittling of the executives. The efforts made by them in sustaining production in an age-old steel plant with obsolete technology are commendable. If Iisco is indeed a sick company, then it is the authorities who are to blame for it. Was it not the responsibility of Sail to revive this sick company after taking charge of it more than two decades ago? The company has survived because of the sincere efforts, dedication and perseverance of its employees who have left no stone unturned to produce the maximum output possible. The executives deserve wages at par with the Sail executives. The ongoing agitation is both fair and reasonable.

Yours faithfully,
Urmila Guha, Burnpur

Sir In the world of business, every company must be able to prove its viability or it will perish. When an outfit begins incurring heavy losses over a long period of time, the authorities have no option but to close it down. If investments were made in other steel plants and not in Iisco, it was probably because the government saw the plant held no promises for the future. The executives of the plant and their families should face this hard reality without being needlessly sentimental about it.

Yours faithfully,
Lata Banerjee, via email

Sir Some things need to be put in their proper perspective. Iisco is a premier iron and steel manufacturing company of India and it is not run by anybody’s charity. The company has at its disposal the world’s largest single hill deposit of iron ore in the Chiria mines. The company has assets exceeding Rs 12,000 crore. Also, Iisco does not operate under subsidies, it, in fact, pays to the national exchequer around Rs 300 crore per annum. The plant is run by its workforce with a minimum inventory of raw materials.The production rate is being maintained despite that. This is possible only because of the untiring efforts of its employees.

Yours faithfully,
S. Banerjee, Calcutta

Sir — Iisco has not received the promised financial assistance from Sail and has instead supported it by giving vital raw materials like coal and iron ore. To this date, Sail owes Iisco Rs 16 crore.

Till March 31, 1996, Iisco executives got the same salaries and perquisites as their counterparts in Sail. Disparities started cropping up from April, 1996. The situation became alarming when Sail decided to implement the Mohan committee recommendations, which would cause immense discrepancy in the salaries. It may be noted that Maharashtra Electrosmelt Limited, also a Sail subsidiary, will be getting pay as per the enhanced rate, though it is running at a loss.

Yours faithfully,
P.C. Pan, Burnpur

Clipped wings

Sir — There once used to be a direct Indian Airlines flight from New Delhi to Rajkot which was discontinued a few years back. Now there is no direct air route from the capital to Saurashtra and Kutch. Many who wanted to reach the region after the earthquake and could not use the railways because of the rush had little choice. At present, the alternative is to go to Ahmedabad by air and then take a bus or train, which is a time consuming process. Rajkot is a centrally located, besides it is also close to cities like Jamnagar, Junagarh and so on. The authorities should revive the earlier flight to Rajkot.
Yours faithfully,
Mahesh Kapasi, New Delhi

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