Citizens' Issues
Quality of meals on airlines is losing out to Indian Railways

The quality of inflight meals aboard Indian airlines have drastically come down while the Indian Railways seems to be going from strength to strength. It is time for a rethink in the way airlines serve flyers

So, how many of us remember the meals on domestic flights within India, which were good enough to discuss at home? As a matter of fact, for many, the inflight meal was best part of flying. Take a look at just some of the photographs from those days, not too long ago.


Even the thali served outside Delhi’s domestic departure, before privatisation, reared its ugly head and laid low all pretences of decent meals at terminals. Take a look at this photo

Indigo Airlines


And then came the great low-fare no-frills revolution. Here, for example, is what you got free of charge on Indigo when they started—a barf bag and a bottle of water.


Soon thereafter, you could start buying sandwiches and soft drinks and stuff, and to-date, their purchased food onboard is one of the best. Plus, they don't make such a fuss if you bring your own onboard, they gladly provide napkins too.



SpiceJet, in the beginning, used to give free cookies. People started grabbing them by the bucket. End of cookies.


It then started with these really healthy whole wheat sandwiches, alas, not found onboard anymore.



Kingfisher Red


Kingfisher Red tried to make amends but it was too late. Still, the concept of its free hot meal in a box was fun.


Go Air


Go Air, when it started, had some really mixed up offerings, like this one below:


Later on, they got better:

Air Deccan


Air Deccan, of course, was from a different planet, so to speak. They tried to refuse me free drinking water. Then, I threw the rule-book at them—commercial passenger licences ensure that ample potable drinking water is to be provided to passengers onboard. After this, they served it, for free. Besides this, their food was nothing much to write home about. 


Air India


Fast forward to present. This is a particularly good meal I had on an Air India flight from Kochi to Delhi about a year ago.


Jet Airways


Jet Airways and its various avatars are now at a point where often you do not know till you board whether you will get a meal, or not, either way, this is dinner on a Chennai-Delhi flight. Compare it to the one above, on Air India?


In the name of “no-frills” you can end up spending upwards of Rs250 for almost nothing, like these:

Take a look at what is on SpiceJet’s website: They make it look very appetising and mouth watering on their website.




Today, fares between low-cost and full-service airlines are often more or less the same. As a matter of fact, Air India is often cheaper on competing routes. This is considering the kind of time and stress involved before boarding a flight and taking into account the fact that you may have missed a meal. This calls for a much healthier and better meal than the greasy sandwiches that many of our airport snack bars seem to serve. Another thing is the fake ‘foreign’ fast food (which is another report altogether) and expensive hot cooked meals which have lost all semblance to value for money by the time it is served.


On the other hand, the Indian Railways appears to be going from strength to strength, and not just on the Deccan Queen but also on the Shatabdi and Rajdhani and Duronto class of trains.


It is about time airlines did what Indian Railways do: Define a meal by weight, charge a reasonable price, and most of all—healthy options. A bowl of salad or fresh cut fruit was always there on the table in the good old days.




3 years ago

yes,I have read your is very good journey food this is done in indian railways rajdhani shatabdi duronto trains......

Akshay Iyer

4 years ago

Interesting article! True, it is indeed sad to know that flights are losing out on food while the Indian Railways capitalize on it. Not so long ago, the food served on all the Rajdhani trains was catered by the Taj group. The quality of food in Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto trains are still appetizing, to say the least. You have even have "Diet Meals" nowadays on certain trains operating on Konkan Railway.

Economic Survey paints a cautiously optimistic picture, says Nomura

The Survey calls for widening of the tax base and prioritisation of expenditures. It also recommends increasing diesel and LPG prices, in line with prevailing international prices. It looks as if Chidambaram would present a fiscally prudent Budget tomorrow, says Nomura

The Economic Survey tabled in Parliament by finance minister P Chidambaram paints an optimistic picture of the Indian economy and holds out hope for the future. At least for tomorrow’s budget, the Survey suggests that the government will present a fiscally prudent budget, says Nomura in a research report.


Nomura said, “The survey paints a cautiously optimistic picture of the economy. We expect the government to project a fiscal deficit of 4.6% of GDP in FY14 from 5.3% in FY13”.


The Survey said, “Controlling expenditure on subsidies will be crucial. The domestic prices of petroleum products, particularly diesel and LPG, need to be raised in line with their prices prevailing in the international market.”


Here are Nomura’s key takeaways from the Survey...


Growth has bottomed

The government expects real GDP growth to improve from 5% y-o-y in FY13 (year ending March 2013) to 6.1%-6.7% in FY14, supported by a normal monsoon and a further moderation in inflation, which should create space for further rate cuts. The Survey states that the “downturn is more or less over and the economy is looking up” and that the slowdown has been a “wake-up call for increasing the pace of actions and reforms”. We expect the focus to shift from spending on consumption to investment.


Fiscal consolidation is likely

The Survey states that the government will be able to contain its fiscal deficit at the revised target of 5.3% of GDP in FY13. The Food Security Bill is likely to add to the subsidy burden, but it is necessary from a welfare perspective, and therefore calls for improved targeting of subsidies. To make the medium-term fiscal consolidation plan credible, the Survey calls for widening of the tax base and prioritisation of expenditures. Further, the Survey recommends increasing domestic prices of diesel and LPG, in line with prevailing international prices.


Lower inflation to create space for rate cuts

The Survey states that WPI inflation is likely to moderate further to 6.2%-6.6% y-o-y by March 2013 from 6.6% currently. The Survey also expects moderate global commodity prices in 2013 and 2014 to aid a benign inflation outlook in FY14. The survey recommends curbing demand as an effective tool to reduce inflation in the short run. However, in the long run, it notes that measures to improve supply are the only way to have non-inflationary growth. From a monetary policy perspective, the Survey states that fiscal consolidation, demand compression and augmented agricultural production should lower inflation, giving the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) the flexibility to reduce policy rates. Hence, “a further shift in the policy stance of RBI…would be desirable.”


Gold imports need to be curbed to contain the current account deficit

The Survey states that in the near term the focus has to be on curbing imports, mainly by making oil prices more market-determined and curbing imports of gold. On capital flows, it recommends a greater emphasis on FDI and long-term FII flows. Specifically on external commercial borrowing, the document noted that it needs to be monitored carefully so that entities without access to foreign exchange revenues do not leave significant exposure unhedged.


Here are the highlights of the Economic Survey 2012-13...

  1. Economic growth pegged at 6.1-6.7% in 2013-14
  2. March 2013 inflation estimated at 6.2-6.6%
  3. Priority will be to rein in high inflation
  4. FDI in retail to pave the way for investment in new technology and marketing of agriculture produce
  5. Survey calls for widening of tax base and prioritising expenditure to bridge fiscal deficit
  6. Calls for curbing gold imports to contain current account deficit
  7. Aadhaar-based direct cash transfer scheme can help plug leakages in subsidies
  8. With subsidies bill increasing, danger of missing fiscal targets is real in FY13
  9. Survey pitches for hike in prices of diesel and LPG to cut subsidy burden
  10. Foreign Exchange reserves remains steady at $295.6 billion at December, 2012-end
  11. At present, overall energy deficit is about 8.6% and peak shortage of power is about 9%
  12. Infrastructure bottlenecks affecting industrial sector performance
  13. Prospects for world trade as well as of India are still uncertain
  14. Pitches for further opening of sectors for FDI




4 years ago

Economic Survey 2013 has identified ‘scarcity of resources and competing demands’ as the stumbling block for India’s economic development. Correct diagnosis takes you half way to possible cure. Once the hurdles are identified, there should be conscious efforts to overcome them or where such efforts will take time, to find out and implement alternate medium term solutions for immediate problems. This is where one expects pragmatism in approach from a government which has limited time to show results. No, here the reference is not to the 2014 Election. The eruptive symptoms showing up in recent years are becoming more and more severe and it would be tough to borrow time by telling stories of past glory or making promises about future action.
Government at this stage should wake up to the resources lying idle in the form of black money, accumulations with corporates and other beneficiaries of liberalisation, national assets like gold and real estate remaining unproductive in various corners of the country and also send out a loud and clear message about social responsibility and patriotic approach to extravagance by those who have become rich and super-rich by short-cuts allowed by lax government policies. Otherwise, future Economic Surveys and Budget speeches will become repetitive and boring.

InGovern recommends voting against proposed merger between Piramal Enterprises and PHPL Holding

According to the proxy voting advisory, there are not enough disclosures by the Piramals on promoter group entities and related party transactions and the rationale can also be achieved through inter-se transfer instead of the merger

Bengaluru-based InGovern Research Services has advised shareholders of Piramal Enterprises (PEL) to vote against the proposal to merge PHL Holdings Pvt Ltd (PHPL) with the company citing lack of rationale and business logic.


In an advisory note, InGovern, said, “Rationale given for this amalgamation can also be achieved through an inter-se transfer or a scheme of amalgamation at the promoter group level and does not suggest any specific business logic for PEL shareholders.”


PEL has issued a notice for a court convened meeting on 13 March 2013 for a composite scheme of arrangement and amalgamation under Section 391 to 394 read with Section 78 and Sections 100 to 103 and other applicable provisions of the Companies Act, 1956, between PHPL and the company.


PHPL is a company forming part of the Promoter Group of PEL and as of 31 December 2012, holds 48.73% stake in PEL. Post the merger, Sri Krishna Trust, a family trust of the Piramals, which holds 100% stake in PHPL, would directly get shares in PEL. Institutional investors hold 28.3% stake in PEL. Aberdeen Global Fund and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) are the largest institutional shareholders in PEL with 9.37% and 3.23% stake, respectively.


PEL in the notice to its shareholders has not made sufficient public disclosures on PHPL or its step-down subsidiaries. On the face of it, the transaction seems to be a straight forward merger of a holding company with its listed subsidiary, where shareholders of PHPL will directly get shares in the listed entity PEL.


“However”, InGovern said, “a deeper scrutiny of PHPL reveals that the entity had entered into related party transactions with its step-down subsidiaries, which have now been merged with PHPL in October 2012, in the past three years. This raises concerns with regards to the current scheme of amalgamation between PHPL and PEL.”


InGovern said it looked at the filings made by PHPL and its step-down subsidiaries for the past three years in addition to the public filings and stock exchange filings made by PEL during this period. InGovern said it also approached the company for further details of the transaction but were told to visit the company for inspection of the documents and the same were not made available to the proxy advisory electronically. “The company has clarified that PHL Holdings will not have any debt in the books of PHPL as on the appointed date and that there will be no adverse impact on the financials of PEL due to the merger,” the report said.


“PEL should clarify to its shareholders the rationale for these past transactions and their potential effect due to these related party transactions on PEL shareholders if the current merger goes through. The company should also publicly disclose the financial documents for PHPL ending 30 September 2012 and 31 December 2012 as well as all scheme related documents, for greater public scrutiny,” InGovern said.


According to the proxy advisory, the rationale given (by PEL) for this amalgamation can also be achieved through an inter-se transfer or a scheme of amalgamation at the promoter group level and does not suggest any specific business logic for PEL shareholders.


Recently, PHPL transferred its shareholding in Piramal Life Sciences to Sri Krishna Trust through an inter-se transfer and the same can be used in this case instead of going for merger of PHPL with PEL, InGovern said.


“Given the backdrop of the related party transactions that have happened in the past between PHPL and its step-down subsidiaries, it seems as if the current merger might have been affected to cover up some of these past corporate actions. We urge the company to provide more clarification on the business rationale for such a transaction,” the proxy advisory said.



Ashit Kothi

4 years ago

There has to be clear policy of Mergers & Acquisition. Companies should be asked to provide all the financial details (detailed one)of both the entities and also provide information on financial benefits to be derived out of such action by promoters. Promoters are also required to give rationals for such M&A and spell out their benefit out of these action and not provide standard static reply / answers.

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