Friday, August 7, 2009

Three strikes for the Indian Fat Cats

In recent weeks, India Inc. has witnessed two resounding calls for 'strikes'. The first, the stillborn one, was masterminded and spearheaded by Vijay Mallya and Naresh Goyal. Their plan was to stop all flights by private airlines on August 18 to "highlight their demands". The second one is on even as this magazine goes for printing. This one is by employees of public sector banks who are demanding better salaries and perks. Being highly patriotic, the union leaders of the Bank strike have deemed that ATM machines will function during the two day strike. Similarly, a late upsurge of patriotism in the hearts of Mallya and Goyal made them cancel (Or defer?) their planned strike to 'respect public sentiments'. Of course, both the Mallya-Goyal duo and the bank union leaders insist that they are victims. But I would rather call them the fat cat aristocracy of India Inc. who are greedy, myopic and brazenly arrogant in their quests to protect their turfs and vested interests. And I think it is time the mainstream media shamed them into admitting as much; by persistently highlighting their willingness to blackmail.

Nobody asked Mr. Mallya to personally select air hostesses or buy out Air Deccan or offer 'gourmet' cuisine on full service flights to economy class passengers. Nobody asked Mr. Goyal to blithely ignore the danger posed by low cost airlines or gamble by buying out Sahara in an expensive and messy deal. And now that competition is beginning to hurt them; they are clamouring for government bailouts. The fact is, almost all their claims are specious. The charges imposed by new airports are paid by passengers; the high costs of fuel are paid by passengers. So why are they cribbing? Imagine a situation where manufacturers of TV sets, soaps and shampoos start demanding government bail outs when input costs rise while smarter and cheaper rivals eat into their market shares and margins. Have you ever heard small entrepreneurs – responsible for almost all the growth in jobs in India – making similar demands?

The 'strike' called by the public sector bank employees is something similar. They are part of the 'labour aristocracy', belonging to a tiny minority of the working class population of India. A newly recruited officer in the State Bank of India gets about Rs.25,000 a month as starting salary – not accounting for perks. How many workers in India without any professional degrees start their careers earning more than Rs.25,000 a month? There are youngsters armed with professional degrees who are struggling today to get even Rs.10,000 a month. Really, it is time the media started highlighting these facts again and again. It is really time for us to shame these fat cats.



  1. Any how it looks that
    there is lot of red tape and to fight that staus quo, either negotiation or other instruments and interventions have to be used.
    But essential services should be saved of all these ordeals.

  2. I am certainly agree to disagree with these so called fat cats of india inc.I am wondering about what exactly they achieved by first calling for a strike and cancelling it later.