The simple fact is that Indian captains of industry have never learnt to be on their own. They have depended on government, always. Throughout the so-called socialist era, it was the private players who benefited by the protective regime of the government. And after the markets have been opened up, they continue to look to the government.
The Indian (formerly Indian Airlines) and Air India have been the favourite whipping boys of the idiotic market fundamentalists(it is difficult to describe them in any other way if one is to be fair and accurate). They cried hoarse: "Why should a government run a plane service? It should be doing better things like governing the country." It was a sensible argument. Going by the same logic, why should the government help the weepy-babies from the private setcor when they run to the it and hold on to its apron-strings? Market fundamentalists have no answer.
Looking rationally at the growth of the civil aviation, it can be seen that there has always been irrational exuberance. The media, especially the chronically stupid English television news channels, would always talk with silly exultation about the private airlines, without any notion about the economics of the sector.
Quite clearly, both Jet Airways and Kingfisher have been preening on their brand values rather than their real values.
While the financial markets were booming, they were raising money to expand their fleet on the assumption of future demand. Nothing wrong with that either. Only thing was that they did not know how to run their airlines efficiently and professionally. Air Sahara exposed its incompetence. The Jet and Kingfisher seem to have been hiding behind their extravagant flourishes. But then reality has the nasty habit of catching up.
It is understandable that Jet Airways had to lay off people. But they lack the culture and maturity of handling it well. It did it like a push-cart hawker. The class act was missing.
Well, Indian capitalists have always been a crude lot. So, it should not come as a surprise. The crudeness is not about them making profits. It is about the lack of vision, of planning, of not understanding the principles of capitalism. Capitalism runs on the sound principles of a vision of future growth, and a sense of good manners. Surely, the Indian capitalists do not have it.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
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