Saturday February 16, 2019
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Air Travel Can Give You A Bagful of Worries

So, now come to the point --- how could we say that the rich are great people. No, they are not great people who can’t ever sympathize with the suffering of the poor.

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By Salil Gewali

I will drop here a bombshell. I know this might get many run away from the airport runway. No wonder, these days with delight we travel by air pretty often. Usually, we load ourselves with expensive personal items. Well, before we check-in, we do hand over all our precious luggage to the Airlines. Do you know what might happen if your bag containing a great many personal items gets lost in the transit? You will be very disappointed to know this. You might probably be paid just puny Rs 2000/- to Rs 4000/- as “compensation” —- almost like the cost for a bagful of “potatoes”, please mind, cost of the expensive bag excluded. This amount also comes to you only after putting in much effort. Who will compensate for your personal luxury items in the bag? Practically no one.

It was a nightmare for my friend Mr. Sharma (name changed..) whose bag was lost by GoAir airlines on 11 May 2018. He journey was from Bagdogra to Guwahati. And it is still a nightmare for him since he lost a small laptop which was inside the bag. More than other items, the loss of a laptop with its invaluable data has devastated him.

Airlines
Don’t ever trust any public grievance offices from New Delhi, they don’t even pick up the phone calls.

Since that fateful day, he has written more than 10 times to the Civil Aviation Ministry, New Delhi. But all futile exercise. Don’t ever trust any public grievance offices from New Delhi, they don’t even pick up the phone calls. For Mr. Sharma, the only achievement after so much of struggle is that the Airlines raised the compensation from Rs 2000/- to Rs 5000. Poor Mr. Sharma thought the Airlines will have a sense of compassion to understand his ordeal. But the language of humanity hardly moves them.

 Now let’s evaluate the case other way round. Suppose, Jehangir Wadia, the CEO/owner of GoAir, wants to visit Shillong and puts up at the hotel of Mr. Sharma himself. Suppose Mr. Sharma’s servant lost the baggage of Mr. Wadia? Could Mr. Sharma tell without a sense of guilt to Mr. Wadia that my servant has lost your bags in the first place? What would be the action and reaction if Mr. Sharma would just give Mr. Wadia Rs 2000/- as compensation?

Airlines
Air travel can give you a bagful of worries

 I know Mr. Wadia would go mad and spew fire upon Mr. Sharma. He will also immediately find ways to file a case against Mr. Sharma for his utter NEGLIGENCE. And, I’m dead sure, with the help of competent lawyers, Mr. Wadia would demand the “pound flesh” of Mr. Sharma. So, now come to the point — how could we say that the rich are great people. No, they are not great people who can’t ever sympathize with the suffering of the poor. Their “humanity” within has long been stabbed to death by their greed. Therefore, they can be unsympathetic to other poor people and keep making money. Is the richest man in the world — Jeff Bezos, owner of AMAZON, not now being heavily criticized for being unusually unkind to his own employees? He has been blamed for “chaotic conditions” in the workplace, utter lack of occupational safety and low wages. Hope you can figure out the usual character of rich men from here.

 Or else poor Mr. Sharma’s letters of grievance would have been heard immediately as those business companies promptly respond the calls from prospective customers.  Alas, now Mr. Sharma has no option but to face the ordeal of the major loss.

 Oh dear regular fliers, so don’t be under the illusion that you are in a “democracy”. You, in fact, are literally in the regime of “capitalism”. Laws are made to save “Shylocks of the modern times”.  All poor citizens have to slog and beg around for survival.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.  Twitter: @SGewali.

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The Rafale Deal: Corporate Rivalry Impacting National Interest

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie's dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on 'India's strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal'.Pixabay

A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.

The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.

That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.

During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’. Pixabay

In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.

However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.

Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.

The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.

Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.

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Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Pixabay

The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

Also Read: The Craft of Distilling Is Ancient, Different Story Behind Every Bottle

The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.

Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  (IANS)