Air India Comes Back to Tata

Air India makes a comeback to its founders after 68 years. In 1932, J. R. D. Tata founded Tata Air Services, later renamed Tata Airlines, which is the precursor of Air India. Back then, J.R.D Tata, an Indian aviator as well as a business aspirant, started flying between Madras and Karachi via Bombay and Ahmedabad. More destinations, such as Colombo and Delhi have been added soon after, and Tata Airlines soon became a popular choice of airways.

Tata Airlines expanded beyond the borders of India to foreign countries, and it did well to connect every nook and corner of the country back in the pre-independence era. It also contributed to World War 2, giving aeroplanes for military evacuation services to the Royal Air Force. After Independence, the Government of India took a 49% stake in Tata Airlines, which now came to be known as Air India, and in 1953, PM Jawaharlal Nehru nationalised Tata Airlines by passing the Air Corporations Act.

In a way, after 68 long years after 1953, Tata is all set to acquire the renowned air carrier. Initial attempts to make Air India private started way back in 2001. However, it got delayed, and Air India started to operate on losses which became a huge burden to the Government of India. Finally, 100% privatisation of Air India was looked upon as the best solution for Air India. The complete privatisation process is expected to take place by December 2021. Tata will be the sole owner of Air India as of now.

Privatisation has been a theatre of debate in the recent past when India is moving towards capitalism and looking to privatise its stakes in Government sectors. While private sectors will call for better facilities, greater passenger amenities, and user friendly, it has also irked some employees who feel their jobs are not secure anymore. Privatisation may also weaken a transportation company like Air India, which may opt for cancellation of loss-making routes, or shut down services. The main question is whether Air India after privatisation can operate from the most remote parts of the country, and win confidence among the employees. Let us know your opinion in the comment section below.

Study from Home vs Work from Home

Study from home and work from home have become a new normal in Covid-19 pandemic. There are mixed reviews on both of them, with some pressing on the opening of educational institutions and offices, while others prefer the continuation of the new normal even after the pandemic. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of these two new normal lives.

Study from home is an unavoidable situation in Covid-19 times when all the educational institutions are closed following Government rules. Most students fail to follow up on what is taught in schools. They have to rely on private tuitions and Google or Youtube to learn the concepts well. Assignments and homework have increased drastically which have started interfering with the time a student used previously for revision or making notes. Many students have also become slow at writing, which will greatly impact their performance in exams in offline mode. Online exams are not the best way to test a student’s knowledge or development unless it is a competitive exam.

One major advantage of studying from home is that the journey time to school or college is now saved. Also, studying for competitive exams is best done from home so that we can focus more on academics or work. There is a third advantage for the teachers that now there is less interference by talkative students.

Work from home is an optional situation that is given to most employees who work on computers in digital platforms. The hospital sector is the most required sector at this time, hence it is operated fully as work from the office. Other offline service sectors like hotels, retail, transportation also have no choice but work from the office or centre. However, employees have been allowed far greater flexibility in schedule due to lack of transportation, leading to employee satisfaction.

India’s largest industry, the IT industry, operates almost entirely in online platforms and requires little presence in offline mode. Hence, almost all IT employees worked from home in the pandemic situation. IT requires skill development with growing skills in the Indian digital market. Hence, the time of journey to the office can be utilized better by working from home. The business team, sponsor or sales team, and management team can also operate from home in most sectors. Audit works, on-site monitoring works, and also works involving a lot of printing, photocopy, or scan have employees following a mixed or hybrid pattern of work.

The current scenario is fruitful for most businesses and many companies are looking forward to applying such a pattern even after the pandemic. Save on electricity bills, resources, journey hours, accommodation costs, and also involving more employees at work are the most common pros for work from home. Lack of interaction between team members and leads, lack of gossip after work, and lack of participation in activities outside of the offices are some cons of working from home. A hybrid model can do away with the cons, and include most of the pros except accommodation costs for people living far away from offices.

Written by – Sushmitra Dahal

Tourism Sector on Decline after Strict Rules

The tourism sector in India has declined by more than 50% in the last 2 weeks following strict Covid-19 curbs and restrictions all across the country. Tourist hotspots in the hills and the beaches have been flocked by tourists as soon as the curbs were eased after the second wave in the country. However, in view of an inevitable third wave, restrictions have been again put into place. Expensive Covid-19 tests and unavailability of transportation lead to a fall in tourism, leaving the hoteliers staring at a loss.

Tourist hotspots like Manali, Shimla, Nainital, Gangtok, Goa, Kerala, Digha, and Darjeeling witnessed a sudden rush of tourists as lockdown eased. People with one or no doses of vaccines ventured out in view that as long as 1st dose vaccination certificate and Covid-19 reports are present, no one will get Covid-19. However, it is not the first time the tourists have spread the virus to the locals despite taking all precautions. Excessive tourism was one of the main reasons for the spreading of the delta variant of Covid-19 in India. Also, after the second wave, sporadic outbreaks are seen in some tourist hotspots in the country, spreading quickly among the locals.

The tourism sector has been hit hard by the pandemic throughout the first and second waves. Now, a third wave may sweep through the country if measures are not taken. Scientists have urged people not to venture out unless it is absolutely necessary. The Government is also taking the same path, allowing little transportation, banning large gatherings, and restrictions on hoteliers. Parks have been restricted to only those who are fully vaccinated, and hotels can allow only those guests who carry an RT-PCR Covid-19 negative test report. However, some restricted places like Lakshadweep have seen a surge in Covid-19 cases as the Government did away with mandatory 14-day quarantine. The rising number of Covid-19 cases in Kerala can be attributed to the tourism sector as well.

Trains are running throughout the country, though the local trains have been put off the track. Heritage trains have been non-operational since the first wave. However, numerous tourist facilities like boating, cruise, ropeway, and opening of shrines and religious places have opened, prompting tourists to rush in. Opening the tourism sector is also important as it will generate a huge chunk of the population that depends entirely on it. With the third wave knocking on the door, the Governments must unite and try to minimize its effect as much as possible. Most importantly, the tourists must take precautions as much as possible and must be fined in case of any violation. Also, it is urged to everyone to follow Government advice and Covid-19 protocols as much as possible to avoid any further outbreak of pandemic in the country.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Cycling Makes Comeback in India

Cycling was the most common method of personal vehicle transportation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, most developed countries in the world are promoting cycle transport to stem the pollution from motor vehicles. Bicycles have the least carbon footprint among all means of transportation as they operate using the energy of the rider. However, they are classified as slow-moving vehicles and are banned from entering congested streets in many cities across India. This limited the growth of this eco-friendly mode of transportation in the early 21st century.

In 2020, world transportation was shattered by Covid-19. Short journeys, for which people used to take auto or bus rides, are replaced by cycles. The unavailability of private cars, buses, and autos means the roads are nearly empty most of the time. So cycling on empty roads did not pose any hindrance to the traffic. In such a scenario, the Government allowed several otherwise-congested roads for cycling purposes. Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, all have seen a spurt in the number of cycles and sales of cycles. A cycle is not only very cheap, but an effective mode of transportation for short distance journeys, and can be parked almost anywhere.

However, various independent surveys show that cycling is more a fitness sport than a transport. In lockdown situations, when fitness lovers are unable to move out to gyms or yoga, cycling comes to their rescue. Cycling not only keeps our body fit but also makes us go out in the sun. Various studies show that Vitamin D is linked with our immunity against Covid-19 and the major source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Thus there is a sudden growth in the number of cycle riders in the afternoon.

Seeing a positive response from the public, the Government is now thinking of making the congested cities suitable for large-scale cycle transportation. Cycle helps in reducing pollution, and also saves a lot of fuel. The commuters have also seen the benefits of cycling, both in terms of health and in terms of money-saving. There has been a 300-600 per cent increase in cycle sales across megacities of India. The best-sellers are expensive bicycles, specially meant for racing purposes. The rich section of the society, which previously did not feel the need to cycle, is now considering cycling as a means of staying fit. The Government now requires cycling as a safe form of transport. The Government should promote the development of bicycle tracks across cities so that riders can move from one part of the city to another without disturbing the traffic. The question is, after the pandemic, will the riders feel safe to ride across congested roads. The Government should create an atmosphere of prioritising cycling as a safe and effective transportation option, which not only the poor but also the rich can utilize.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Oxygen Express Amid Rising Covid-19 Cases

The second wave of Covid-19 has hit India very hard. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is seen in a large percentage of affected persons. SARS patients need oxygen supply for survival before their immune system becomes resistant to the disease. As a record number of SARS patients are admitted to hospitals, hospitals are facing a shortage of oxygen.

As the situation turned bad to worse, several states of India are reporting a shortage of oxygen supply. City hospitals in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh have critically low oxygen levels and are in dire need of medical oxygen. Supply from neighbouring states is also being blocked due to rising Covid-19 cases in them. Thus the only way out remains that medical oxygen is brought from oxygen manufacturing industries located in heavily industrialized areas far away from the Covid-19 hotspots.

In such a dire situation, the Centre has decided to run oxygen express which are goods trains carrying oxygen from one place to another. Flat wagons used in goods trains are used as roll-on-roll-off, where oxygen tanker trucks are rapidly loaded and discharged. Due to electrified sections, there is a height limitation for which only short height tankers, T-1618 of height 3.32 metres, are used for this purpose. The capacity of each tanker is 15,000 litres of liquid medical oxygen.

Oxygen in cryogenic state is a hazardous chemical for transport, and hence railways have to check the pressure in each tankers regularly. There are limitations in the speed of the train, acceleration and braking, and also limitation of routes as these trains cannot operate in ghat sections. Yet, railways have taken it as a challenge, mapped the entire route, trained the officials in new requirements, and made new ramps overnight.

The first Oxygen Express goods train started from Kalamboli near Mumbai to fetch liquid medical oxygen (LMO) from Vizag in Andhra Pradesh. A longer route via Vasai was planned to avoid the ghat sections that fall in Central Railways routes. The first oxygen express took 50 hours to do the job. The journey started with 7 tankers from Vizag, while 3 were unloaded at Nagpur, the rest reached Nashik Road railway station on Saturday morning, 24th April.

The second Corona express brought oxygen from Bokaro in Jharkhand to Lucknow. The train made a halt at Varanasi, where one truck was offloaded, and the remaining two trucks were dispatched through a green corridor between Varanasi and Lucknow. The goods train has reached Lucknow on 24th April, and the trucks were immediately sent to hospitals to stem the severe oxygen crisis in the city.

More states have demanded oxygen transportation via oxygen trains. Delhi, which has seen one of the worst pandemic situations ever, is about to get more than 70 tonnes of oxygen from Raigarh in Chhattisgarh. The first oxygen train to Delhi has reported having arrived at Delhi as of 27th April. Subsequently, more trains are planned to Delhi from Angul, Rourkela in Odisha and Durgapur in West Bengal. A second oxygen express has also reached Maharashtra from Hapa, Gujarat. Andhra Pradesh has also asked for a train from Angul to Vijaywada.

Corona Express has come to rescue India, where Covid-19 patients were dying for want of oxygen. More oxygen trains in the coming days hope to relieve the oxygen crisis in the country by a big margin. In such difficult times, it is required for all to co-operate, follow Covid-19 protocols, stay at home unless urgent, and thus save the lives of thousands of fellow Indians all across the country.

Written by – Himadri Paul