Days after the PM’s ‘Give It Up’ call for the well-off to forego the subsidy, his good friend Gautam Adani sent a letter to his 8,000 employees urging them to do the same; some say they feel pressured into following the ‘appeal’ even though it is supposed to be voluntary
Just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a clarion call to the well-off to give up LPG subsidy, his good friend Gautam Adani was among the first to respond in a big way. The ‘Give It Up’ campaign was launched by the PM on March 27 and, just three days later, the Adani Group chairman nudged his employees to participate.
An appeal signed by Gautam Adani, dated March 30, was sent to all of the group’s nearly 8,000 employees in India, asking them to opt out of the LPG subsidy. What’s more, the form for opting out was attached to the mail, and the administration and the human resources teams were apprised of it, to get the form signed by the employees.
While some sources in the company insisted that compliance with Adani’s appeal is not mandatory, others said it did not feel strictly voluntary either, with department heads reportedly taking a keen interest in ensuring that the mail reached every employee.
File pic for representation
Some even claimed that the move was designed to ensure that the company remained in the good books of the PM. An employee in the real estate division of Adani Group said the tone of the email made it very clear that the company wanted all the employees to give up the subsidy.
Gautam Adani sent out the appeal on March 30, just 3 days after Modi launched the ‘Give It Up’ campaign
“I was indirectly told that I should opt out, but shouldn’t it be my decision? Why should a company, that has never paid for my LPG cylinder, suddenly ask me to give up the subsidy? Also, they are so serious that all the forms necessary for opting out are being sent to us and the HR and Admin departments are working extra hours to see to it that everyone fills out the form,” said the employee.
'Charity begins at home'
The appeal signed by Adani read, “As you are aware, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to the nation to voluntarily surrender the LPG subsidy, so that the benefits can go to the truly needy. In line with this appeal, as a responsible group and citizens. It has been felt appropriate for all of us to voluntarily opt out of the LPG subsidy.”
“This will be the genuine participation of people at large for people, who are financially compromised. Charity begins at home... Accordingly, your HR and Admin Dept will facilitate to sign the required form to be submitted. Looking forward to this small but significant contribution from all in our journey of nation building,” it said.
Bombay High Court Advocate Gayatri Singh said, “This is bad in law. Just by putting the word voluntary, it doesn’t become voluntary, especially when the company is sending the forms (for opting out of LPG subsidy).
It is like providing the facility of VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme), but also adding a line that if you don't take VRS, you will have no work. Asking someone to do something that is not associated with work, and is personal in nature, is also wrong.”
Advocate Y P Singh said, “It is nothing but putting undue pressure. It may not be illegal, but it is inappropriate and undesirable.” Advocate Manthan Bhatt, who practices in the Gujarat and Bombay High Courts, said, “Normally, a corporate will take such decisions for its own good and to be seen in a favourable light by the government. But then, it shouldn’t force it on employees. If it does, it will be against the constitution.”
'Opting out voluntary'
A detailed mail to the Adani Group, seeking a response to allegations of employees feeling pressured to sign the form, remained unanswered. The email contained queries on whether the move was only for particular classes of employees or for everyone, and whether all this was being done by Gautam Adani as he is considered close to the PM.
A source close to the company, however, said that opting out was voluntary and the HR department would collate the details of all those who had opted out by Tuesday. “It’s a voluntary opt-out, not a forced one. Whoever claims they are being forced should not fill out any forms. This is not being done to get into anyone’s good books,” said the source.