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Who will fly Air India now?

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By R.K.Sinha

The Tata Group and SpiceJet promoter, Ajay Singh presented their claims to take over the state-run airline company, Air India. Ajay Singh has, in a way, stood firmly in front of the Tata Group and openly challenged them to war resulting in the acquisition of Air India Airlines. However, the decision regarding who will get ownership of the national carrier is yet to be made. It is worth noting that when all the big companies of the country and MNCs of the world withdrew from the intention of taking ownership of Air India Ltd., then apart from the Tata Group, there was only one first-generation entrepreneur who readily jumped into the buying frenzy. This, in itself, is a testimony to the great heights of Mr. Ajay Singh’s flight to dream.

In truth, in the world of business, success comes to those who dare to move forward fearlessly and be brave enough to face uncertainties. We talk about those in particular who move forward with enthusiasm, while also making all the preparations that are prerequisites to success. It seems only evident that Mr. Ajay Singh must have thought everything through before intending to buy a reputed airline like Air India. For most, it remains an unfathomable dream, a feat only few can even consider, i.e. to buy a company as big as Air India.

The company, Air India Ltd. was founded by Shri JRD Tata, with the initial name of Tata Airlines in the year 1932. However, in the years to follow, this company was nationalized as its ownership shifted to the government. As of now, we will have to wait and watch if Air India is reintegrated into the Tata Group or it becomes a part of SpiceJet, which is spearheaded by Mr. Ajay Singh. Whoever manages to get a hold of the airline’s ownership will have secured control and access of 4004 domestic and 1800 international landing and parking spots at domestic airports as well as 900 spots at airports on foreign grounds. The Tata group already holds a stake in two existing airline companies. The first among them is a low-cost airline called “AirAsia India” while the second is a full-service airline namely “Vistara”.

SpiceJet’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mr. Ajay Singh is a first-generation entrepreneur. It is said that no one in his family before him has had any business experience. A fact that only a few people would know is that in 1996 he was in the process of rejuvenating DTC in Delhi. At that time, Mr. Madan Lal Khurana was the Chief Minister of Delhi. In his government, the then Transport Minister, Mr. Rajendra Gupta gave Mr. Ajay Singh the responsibility of improving the functioning of DTC. During his tenure, Ajay Singh had expanded the fleet of DTC on a large scale and introduced new routes. He also established the new routes of DTC buses in outer and rural parts of Delhi. For quite some time he was also associated with Doordarshan. It was under his patronage that DD Sports and DD News started. Thus, establishing the fact that Mr. Ajay Singh has made his identity and left a mark in many diverse fields of work.

Talking about Mr. Ajay Singh provides one with an ample opportunity to mention first-generation business tycoons. There is truth in the saying that first-generation entrepreneurs are better visionaries, savvy, and amazingly hardworking. There have been several first generations of entrepreneurs before and after Ajay Singh and many will continue to come forth. Now, there are dozens of first-generation entrepreneurs like the Founder of Ola, Bhavesh Agarwal, the Founder of Zomato, Dipender Agarwal & Shiv Nadar of HCL Technologies. Most of them are doing better than the men that predated them. They are not only providing employment but continuously motivating young individuals. There are thousands of such youths in the field of information technology in the country, in whose families no one has ever done any business before them. The current conditions in the country are highly conducive for one to start their own business. There is an availability of loans from banks and financial institutions on easy terms. This situation was not such till some twenty years ago. Then, getting a loan cleared was very difficult, but today, if you have a great idea then your success is guaranteed.

Something that is to be engraved in one’s mind is that there is no shortcut to success in business. After becoming successful, if one engages in any kind of fraudulent conduct, in terms of money, they lose even what they earn. Take the example of the real estate company Unitech. The lust of the promoters of Unitech destroyed a great company. Its two infamous promoters, namely, Sanjay Chandra and his brother Anuj Ajay Chandra are in jail. Till a few years back, Sanjay Chandra was one of the most prominent names in the real estate world. He was educated in Delhi Public School, R.K Puram and his father was a civil engineer. Sanjay Chandra had taken Unitech to great heights. He was bringing in residential and commercial projects one after the other to the Delhi-NCR area. But unfortunately, success made them greedy. They started to commit a lot of illegal dealings and indulged in fraudulent activities. They betrayed the trust of thousands of people who dreamed of their own roofs and made a lot of money by fudging billions of rupees.

Due to this, several cases were registered against them. Recently, after the order of the Supreme Court, Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra has also been shifted from Tihar Jail to Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai and Taloja Central Jail, because they had not been deterred from carrying out their illicit plans from Tihar Jail. Such was the situation as per a complaint received in the Supreme Court.

Take another such explanation. After the partition of the country, Brother Mohan Singh had come to Delhi from Rawalpindi. In 1952, he bought a company named Ranbaxy Laboratories that belonged to his cousins. Under his patronage, Ranbaxy became the country’s leading pharmaceutical company. But after the death of Brother Mohan Singh and his eldest son Dr. Parvinder Singh, the management of Ranbaxy, went to Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, the sons of Parvinder Singh. Both of them sold Ranbaxy to a Japanese company called Daiichi. There were a lot of loopholes in that deal as well.

Sadly, both the grandsons of Brother Mohan Singh were arrested by the Economic Offenses Wing of the police in a case of cheating of hundreds of crores. Thus, the bottom line is that ultimately the success in business is determined by the possession of a unique idea and the ability to run their business with hard work and honesty. The Tata Conglomerate has served the nation for over a century. SpiceJet too, in its short journey has proved its usefulness and potential. Both of them do business by walking on the right moral path. Now, whether Air India goes to the Tata group or Ajay Singh’s SpiceJet, it is the country that will benefit.

(The author is a senior editor, columnist, and former MP. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author.)

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