Letters to the editor: The PSU problem

Updated: Mar 29 2014, 10:13am hrs
This refers to your editorial Good luck on those PSUs (FE, March 22). Government enterprise is an oxymoron. A (quasi independent non-governmental organisation (quango) is supposed to be just the opposite of enterprise. Passive rulemaking is a ballgame that is best suited for supervisory functions. To expect people in this role to delivery goods and services is preposterous. Forget wage costs. Maybe, there is a way out on thatretrenching excess manpower and cutting salaries, like it is done in the private sector, would do the trick. But, how to deal with the CVC rule After the AntrixDevas scandal of ISRO, procedures were made more labourious for suppliers in the making the process foolproof. After the 2G scam, most government departments/officials seem to be more reluctant to move a file ahead for fear of malpractice charges being levelled at them subsequently. Result: Processsclerosis. One could understand thispublic outcry after every scam, and the resultant enquiries and other formalities would only make government officials wary and fearful. But then, do they need to be there in this job in the first place

Were it a private enterprise, many of these logjams would be avoidedeven if they occurred, the enterprise could still move on quickly, by getting the detail minuted and signed by the board. Is that flexibility possible in PSUs No. No minister would dare to sign on a document authenticating the sale of an asset below its value. The point is simple. A bureaucrat/minister is not an entrepreneur. He needs to be in his shoes, simple. Narendra Modi is being seen by many as the Margaret Thatcher of India. He is expected to take on the unions, look them in their eyes and tell them that they got to mind their role of negotiating for the rights of the workers and stay within that limit. And, union leaders are expected to workno on-duty benefits for them to visit their native villages. None other than Modi can do this in India because he has the ability to speak his mind on things that are uncomfortable and that are avoided by the politically correct Congress. We could even say that his election would be a mandate to do precisely this job.Were he to renege on this, trying instead to professionalise the quangos, which is next to impossible, we could conclude that the fate of India is sealed. We hope Narendra Modi proves Arun Shourie wrong.

Raghu Seshadri, Chennai

Repurposing unions

This refers to the edit Striking at labour (FE, March 27). The edit points out that unions in the automobile sector need to think about jobs, not just wages. It is not necessary that the number of employees should increase in the same proportion as increase in sales. The difference could arise due to various factors like the improvement in productivity, mechanisation, etc. But the expansion and growth of industry should also bring more employment. That needs better understanding and cooperation between labour and management. It would help the country to become a manufacturing hub.

Jacob Sahayam