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  • Writer's pictureTarun Das

The Orphans of India: The Public Sector

Updated: Dec 10, 2018

Few show anything but lip service to the cause of the Public Sector. The Nation owns the Public Sector. This is like an owner of a business employing vast numbers of people, sitting on huge physical assets, owning technology of a high order, deploying skill sets across a wide range of industries and covering considerable exports as well as imports.

But, the Public Sector is imprisoned, with little or no freedom. They have excellent managers and staff but, highly underpaid. They are almost never glamorised like their Private Sector counterparts.

It is not clear where new energy flows from to fuel the Public Sector though multiple Ministries are involved.

What is difficult to understand is why the Public Sector, which are India’s “ National” companies should be so neglected. Orphaned. Uncared for. Is it deliberate that the country’s assets such as NTPC, BHEL, SAIL, ONGC, IOC, SCI, GAIL and many others should be treated as step children of this Nation? Or, is it just benign neglect?

Is the Public Sector to die out slowly, steadily?

Or, is it to limp along, as now?

Or, is it to be strengthened, made competitive to enjoy a long, healthy life?

Is a new Parent to be found? A caring parent? A Cabinet Minister for the Public Sector who is seen to have clout and respect? A Secretary and a team of officials whose hallmark is to give support and space to all of Public Sector?

There seem to be several reasons to get the attention of the national leadership:

First , the de jure “Owner” is the President of India. He is the parent of the orphaned children. These are his children.

Second, these are national assets.

Third, these are huge employers of people whose contribution and welfare is very important.

Fourth , these are repositories of technology and innovation, given the opportunity and space.

Fifth, their expertise and skill sets are wide ranging and critical to the nation as a whole.

Sixth, thousands of MSMEs are suppliers to the Public Sector and depend on them for their own survival.

This is a good time to remind ourselves again that the Public Sector can actually add upto 1% to our GDP growth. This is reason enough to pick them up, hold them close, and give them new energy and life.

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