The King in troubled waters

21 Feb,2012

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Whoever picked the guests for the Kingfisher segment of the Newshour last night, obviously did not gauge TimesNow editor Arnab Goswami’s mood right. More than half the panel spoke out in favour of the besieged airline while Goswami was adamant that no one owed Kingfisher anything for its bad management practices. Even worse, the people of India had been inconvenienced (or at least the flying public) and that was unacceptable.

 

Vijay Mallya on TimesNow was quite a departure from his normal braggart self as he petulantly explained that he was dying to pay everyone but couldn’t since the income tax department had frozen all Kingfisher accounts. He did acknowledge that he did have some tax dues but…

 

From all the par-for-the-course studio histrionics, one thing was clear – some urgent analysis of the aviation industry is required.

 

Obviously, television cannot provide it…

 

The first edit in The Economic Times seems to feel that a government intervention or bailout is unacceptable and Kingfisher has to sort out its own problems. It even calls for a suspension of licence. This is in keeping with Goswami’s line but does not follow that of Kingfisher’s well-wishers within the travel and aviation industry who keep bringing Air India into the picture. As ET points out, “The state of the industry and the fate of Air India should not be allowed to cloud the issue.”

 

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The alleged rape of a woman in Kolkata gets curiouser and curiouser. The behaviour of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her minister Madan Mitra – blaming the victim and claiming a conspiracy to destablise the government – has been roundly criticised. Indeed, Mitra’s comments about the woman being out drinking deserve wider condemnation – he should surely be treated on par with the Andhra Pradesh police officer and Karnataka minister for making such sexist and dangerous remarks.

 

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In The Indian Express, Abhijit V Banerjee, Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director Abdul Latif Jameel Povery Action Lab makes an impassioned plea for allowing the British government’s Department for International Development continues its “good work” in India and for India not to get carried away by nationalism. This is a subject which needs to be debated more stringently in India. Do we still need foreign aid, does aid work and should not India manage its own problems. My instinct is not to agree with Banerjee and to side with the nationalists…

 

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