AMID the row over Kingfisher Airlines’ boss Vijay Mallya’s leaving the country in the middle of a loan default investigation, former Infosys honcho TV Mohandas Pai on Sunday kicked up a fresh issue as he asked why the people managing Air India were not held accountable for ₹30,000 crore losses, just as Mallya is being probed for losses in Kingfisher Airlines? Though Pai, who was HR head in Infosys and is currently chairman of Manipal Education, has not named anyone in the state-run airline, it’s well known that the loss-making Air India has been managed by bureaucrats, mostly IAS officers. The current CMD Ashwani Lohani is however not an IAS, but a...1980 batch officer belonging to Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineering (IRSME).
“What is the difference between Vijay Mallya who lost ₹10,000 crore and Air India which lost ₹30,000 crore? Bank money is lost (in case of KFA) and public taxpayer’s money is lost (in AI's case)”, Pai said, as reported in a section of media. He then went on to say: “Everybody is going after Vijay Mallya. (But) a government entity making (AI) losses is okay...is it? Parliament is sitting quietly and does not talk about it. Media will sit quietly and nobody will talk about it...holding nobody accountable. What is this? It's hypocrisy. Both are of the same character and both are wrong.”
Pai also wants media to take up this issue. “Only Arnab can take it up, expose this, 100,000+cr losses of PSU along with crony capitalism”, he posted in the micro-blogging site Twitter on Sunday.
Pai has not spared Mallya for not paying salaries to employees while having a luxurious life, but sought to know whether Air India assets be sold to repay government loans? He also lashed out at the Air India management. In fact, Air India has always been managed by bureaucrats though the board has some private persons as well. Whether it was Arvind Jadhav, a 1978 batch IAS, now retired, or 1982 batch IAS Rohit Nandan, now secretary in the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship, — most of the past chairmen of the national carrier belonged to IAS.
Current chairman Ashwani Lohani, who had earlier scripted turnarounds of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) in the year 2002-3 (he was its CMD then) and then placed Madhya Pradesh tourism in the national landscape when he served as the MD of Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (2004-05 and 2006-09), is from the Indian Railways.
Gargi Kaul and Balwinder Singh Bhullar, both joint secretaries in civil aviation ministry and directors in Air India board assisting Lohani in all major decisions are officers belonging to Indian Audit and Accounts Service and IAS respectively.