Govt unveils new draft civil aviation policy

The government has proposed to accord high priority to provide air connectivity to remote, difficult and interior areas of the country and focusing on building and modernising airports in Tier-II and Tier-III cities


To meet the challenges of burgeoning air traffic, connecting remote areas, creating aviation hubs, ensuring safety and security and liberalising bilaterals to move towards an 'open sky', a new draft civil aviation policy has been framed by the government.

The new Civil Aviation Policy is expected to be in place by January 2015. While releasing the Draft Civil Aviation Policy in Delhi, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, said, “it aims to develop a transparent policy in which regulations for the Civil Aviation sector would be more meaningful.”

The policy, which was drafted and approved by the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA-II) government, has undergone a fresh review under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led regime with additional thrust being given on remote area connectivity.

V Somasundaran, secretary, Civil Aviation, said, “As per the draft, airports are to be designed as integrated multi-modal hubs, so that they provide the best possible service levels as well as potential for growth. An integrated multi-modal hub should include rail, metro, bus and truck connectivity as well as accommodation and other services”.

The draft Civil Aviation Policy, on which the government would seek the views of all stakeholders, would also focus on encouraging regional airlines and suggest steps to move towards lower fares to make aviation affordable.

The draft policy is likely to come up with suggestions regarding jet fuel prices and heavy taxation on it which pose a major roadblock for airlines and consequently, development of aviation hubs in various parts of the country.

The need to coordinate development of tourism and promotion of 'brand India' in a concerted manner may also form part of the policy.

It is not only likely to recommend steps to develop global hubs in India but also establish domestic regional hubs to cater to the growing air traffic from non-metro destinations in remote areas like the northeast.

The government has been according high priority to provide air connectivity to remote, difficult and interior areas of the country and focusing on building and modernising airports in Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

The policy may also come up with a review of the rule, which allows an Indian carrier to fly abroad only after five years of domestic operations and after it has a 20-aircraft fleet.

However, the proposals, many of which were made public over several months for an open debate, have come under criticism from various quarters, including the airlines, which have been saying that high costs of fuel, aircraft and spares, mainly due to taxation, have disrupted the spread of air connectivity to remote areas.


Pulse Beat

Medical developments from around the world


Ebola in New York 

The first doctor-patient in New York has created headlines the world over. He did not follow his quarantine rules properly and travelled in the subway while incubating the disease. It will be tough to find out exactly who he may have come in contact with. There is now some suspicion that Ebola might even be transmitted through air! That is quite scary. India must get ready to face the threat anytime now.
How Germs Seek New Victims for Their Own Survival 
A look at the ubiquitous cold viruses teaches us many important lessons. While they proliferate in the nose, they induce sneezing which is the easiest way to spread the virus to new victims. However, the virus takes care to see that it does not make the patient unfit to go about his/her daily work thus gaining access to more victims. This is how nature works for every living organism. They try to survive even under hostile conditions.
Is India Polio Free? 
Areport originating from the Rotary International claimed that India is, finally, polio free. I was happy, as any sane person should be. However, I was intrigued about the fact that the report emanated from a so-called service organisation. Do they really know the intricacies of this statement? Ever since we started vaccinating every child in India, even those with severe malnutrition, a new disease has come to the fore, the ‘non-polio paralytic disease’. The hapless children who have contracted this disease are paralysed for life. I wonder if the new disease has been properly investigated with viral fingerprinting, to rule out the vaccine virus having mutated in the gut of malnourished kids. The timing of the onset of this new epidemic is highly suspicious. Will some wise authorities explain this to the lay people please?
Blood Pressure Medication 
I had written a book on hypertension in 1993 in which I had stated that blood pressure counts of only above 100/60 need to be considered for drug treatment. I had mentioned that the lower cut-off points were engineered by drug companies to increase their profits. I was criticised about this by many at that time. Now, the Cochrane group says the same thing with the cut-off point at 159/99! Co-author of this Cochrane review, James M Wright, MD, PhD, physician, researcher, pharmacologist and professor at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) had this to say on the subject. “The blood pressure should not be reduced below 140/90 and reducing to lower levels might be associated with dangerous side-effects. The drugs should be started only after the level reaches 159/99.” He now asks his patients to reduce drugs that they are on and even goes to the extent of asking them to gradually stop drugs if they have reached 140/90 and have a healthy lifestyle.
These were the very sentences in my 1993 book! What made me happy is that Professor Wright feels that thiazide diuretics are the only safe anti-BP drugs—another one of the statements in my book. I have again learnt, to my dismay, that one should not be ahead of one’s time!


Bailing Out Cooperative Banks

Narendra Modi continues with the poor governance of earlier regimes


On 5th November, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was on television announcing a massive Rs2,375-crore infusion of funds into 23 district central cooperative banks across the country. These include 16 banks in Uttar Pradesh, three each in Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra and one in West Bengal.

The minister said that the move was aimed at protecting small depositors. A Cabinet meeting that approved this capital infusion at taxpayers’ expense had imposed some meaningless conditions like growing deposits at the rate of 15% and halving bad loans over the next two years. On 30th June, The Mint had reported that 45 cooperative banks were likely to face penal action by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Of these, 23 did not even have licences and would need Rs2,100 crore even to meet the 4% capital adequacy ratio. These 23 seem to be the ones that have received taxpayers’ money.  

The action sets a terrible precedent by ignoring the fact that cooperative banks are in a mess because of dual regulation, political involvement and interference in their management and the fact that large chunks of their irrecoverable loans are usually to politically connected persons who are wilful defaulters.

Consequently, cooperative banks are poorly regulated and fail, with alarming regularity. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the poor supervision of these banks which usually target small depositors with higher interest rates. Interestingly, while banking decisions are hugely susceptible to political pressure, the government has ensured that deposits of up to Rs1 lakh of all banks, including cooperative banks, are protected by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC).

It is important to remember that a previous BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government (1999-2004) had not hesitated to get a pliant RBI governor and DICGC to bend the rules for Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank (MMCB) after the Ketan Parekh scam of 2000-01. MMCB’s management had destroyed the Bank by lending nearly Rs1,000 crore to scamster Ketan Parekh. Under DICGC rules, deposit insurance is paid out only after a bank goes into liquidation. An exception was made for MMCB, to appease a powerful BJP minister and several hundred crore rupees were paid out. Those days, a decimated Congress, as the leading opposition party, did not protest. It will be a sad day for financial consumers if history repeats itself and a powerful BJP government decides to protect shady cooperative banks instead of bringing them under the clear and unambiguous regulation and supervision of RBI.


Over the years, politicians have quietly pushed for deposit insurance to be raised, so that the poorest depositors (read voters) are covered by insurance when banks fail, preventing widespread outrage that could affect their political fortunes. The customer services committee headed by M Damodaran had recommended that deposit insurance be raised to Rs5 lakh. 
Many consumer organisations have also mindlessly advocated that all bank deposits must be fully insured, without understanding the costs that such a move would eventually impose on customers; or that this would only encourage further loot of cooperative banks by the political class.
In 2012, finance minister, P Chidambaram, told the Parliament of a DICGC proposal seeking to double deposit insurance to Rs2 lakh. He said, DICGC was asked to consider doing this on a ‘risk-based deposit insurance premium structure’. It is not clear whose interest DICGC was advocating because a higher insurance cover will eventually be passed on to customers. Also, records show that insurance payouts by DICGC have invariably been on account of cooperative banks, although the premium is collected from all banks. 
The statistics are revealing. DICGC paid out a massive Rs1,025 crore in claims over the past three years to 83 banks, all of which were cooperative banks. While close to a 100% of payments have been made to cooperative banks, less than 8% of the total premium is raised from the 2,080 cooperative banks under DICGC and 88% comes from around 200 commercial banks.
Dr KC Chakrabarty, former deputy governor of RBI, responding to a question raised at an open-house organised by Moneylife Foundation in 2013 had said, “Nowhere in the world is there unlimited deposit insurance. If you do want that, premium will become so high that you will have to pay the bank even to keep your money.” Moneylife is of the view that DICGC must have a separate insurance cover for cooperative banks, given the lopsided payouts. 
Ignoring this background, the BJP-led government has decided on direct infusion of funds into cooperative banks. The move protects their politically-influenced management but is craftily pitched as an action to protect depositors. This is hardly the way towards the good governance, fair administration and change that prime minister Narendra Modi has promised Indians. 



M A Srinivasan

3 years ago

Concentration of assisted co-ops in UP seems to be a "political" move. The famous saying holds good even today :
in India,
Co-operation has failed, but it should succeed.

NK Padhi

3 years ago

Actually, most of the co-operative Banks have no reason to exist. Many survive because they do not deduct TDS from interest earned on deposits of Members, i.e, shareholders. I do not know why this exemption is given to them ! TDS should be paid by everyone as people are free to claim it back by filing returns. What social service is expected one office co-op banks who survive by discounting local cheques or by giving jewellery loans ( mostly to private financiers )


3 years ago

The PSBs are frequently funded by the Centre as they have majority stake in them. It may be for the first time that a ' Government at the Centre ' is rescuing Coop. Banks. 23 coop. banks get Rs.2375 crore.
It is sad that the BJP which has come to power with promise to root out corruption is shielding the coop.banks which have gone red because of corrupt practices, mismanagements, among others. The managements of the failed coop. banks are by and large in the hands of ruthless politicians.The BJP seems is obliged to them to repay the dues it owes: quid pro quo. What BJP practices is different from what it professes. Other ailing coop. banks also may await the incumbent lift karale, the boost by the Central Government !
The coop. banks which are victims of politicians are put on moratorium by the Regulators. As a result, the depositors, the public have to bear the burnt.The public, if not the Regulators, should oppose the mis- utilising the exchequers/ tax payers money by the Central Government.

Goregaon, Mumbai.


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