The government today inducted corporate bigwigs Kumar Mangalam Birla and Y C Deveshwar into the board of Air India, a day after seeking Parliament’s approval for supplementary grant for equity infusion in the loss-making national carrier. The appointment of Birla, head of an over USD 44 billion conglomerate, and Deveshwar, chairman of FMCG giant ITC, is for three years, according to a Personnel Ministry order issued late in the evening.
The government had yesterday sought Parliament’s approval for grant of Rs 980 crore as part of equity infusion into Air India under the turnaround plan. These appointments were cleared by a Cabinet committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had earlier said in an interview to a magazine that though a decision for privatisation of Air India was taken, its execution would be taken in accordance with market condition.
Besides Air India, the government also appointed private sector executives to four other public sector enterprises. Shyamvir Saini and Gurmohinder Singh will be non-official independent directors in National Seeds Corporation Ltd and Bharat Earth Movers Limited respectively.
Arun Tandon has been appointed non-official director in Balmer Lawrie and Co Ltd, the order said without citing any details about these people. Tapan Kumar Mandal has been named non-official independent directors in Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, it said. The Cabinet had earlier decided to privatise Air India by divesting government’s 76 per cent stake in the loss making entity.
Air India, which has more than Rs 52,000 crore debt burden, is surviving on a Rs 30,000-crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA government in 2012. Government think-tank NITI Aayog has recommended to the Prime Minister’s Office a “complete” privatisation of the airline.