Who says the license-permit-quota raj has ended? It's merely mutated into something smarter and eviler. If you are Ratan Tata who plays by the rules, you will get shafted. The tie up with Singapore Airlines fell through because the Tatas wouldn't pay bribes.

But take Vijay Mallya. He is the self-advertised "King of Good Times". That is vulgar. But vulgar is cool in India. And it describes Mallya perfectly. Mallya is an industrialist of course with a prized Rajya Sabha seat. He is also an entrepreneur-entertainer.

He will think nothing of flying plane-loads of politicians and other powerful people to overseas cricket matches. He will strut about the F-1 circuit basking in the reflected glory of entering that rich-man's faux sport before anyone in the country. He is proud of his race cars and studs and homes around the world.

And yet, Mallya is the perfect symbol of the license-permit-quota-raj industrialist. Mallya's Kingfisher and Jet Airways watched over by benevolent governments and ministers eviscerated Indian Airlines and Air India to become big and dominant. Using his political clout, Mallya arm-twisted state oil companies to fuel Kingfisher long after it had no money to pay them.

The "good times" had to end one day. You cannot speak of fuel decontrol on one hand (and sock the middle class) and permit Kingfisher to remain afloat without paying. Too late perhaps, the oil companies have gotten tough. The result is that Kingfisher is virtually grounded.

And guess what Mallya, the Rajya Sabha MP, and license-permit-raj industrialist, do? He goes running to the government for help. A news agency report says Mallya has appealed to the civil aviation minister, Vyalar Ravi, and the finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, to bail out Kingfisher with cheap bank loans. ‘If Air India can get low-interest loans, why not Kingfisher?' the King of Good Times is reported to have argued.

That comes of having industrialists in the Rajya Sabha. It makes them part politicians. It brings them into the system. And next you know, they are devising ways to bleed the system, in effect, rob you and me of our monies.

Why in heck should the government bail out Kingfisher? How dare Vijay Mallya compare a state-owned carrier with Kingfisher? Is level-playing field reduced to this? Any government in its right mind would blackball Mallya's audacious demand.

Personally and through the companies Vijay Mallya owns, he can quite adequately refinance Kingfisher. And if he is not of a mind to do so, the government should demand a goody slice of United Breweries. That will tell Mallya that market rules apply to all equally, and that because he has ingratiated himself into the system, he does not become special.

And all his crass "entertainment" of the political class should visibly and transparently amount to zero benefit for Kingfisher.

Just to tell you if you didn't know, Vijay Mallya is one of Forbes' dollar billionaires, with a net worth of $1.40 billion. And the companies he runs apart from Kingfisher are highly profitable. As he crowed to his stockholders earlier this year, United Spirits (USL) and United Breweries have achieved "landmark sales" exceeding one hundred million cases. United Breweries, according to Mallya, has captured more than half the world's brewing market. And USL is the world's largest distiller in terms of volume. It is also India's "largest FMCG" company with retail sales exceeding Rs 34,000 crores.

Besides all this, the Mallya-owned Mangalore Chemicals & Fertilizers (MCF) has reported the "highest ever turnover and profit before tax". MCF sold a record one million metric tonnes of fertilizer for the second successive year.

And of course there are Mallya's vast real estate assets, including the proposed Kingfisher Towers with over seven lakh square feet of prime saleable area. Vijay Mallya is quite capable of bailing out Kingfisher all by himself.

But if he wants the government to pitch in, he has to offer a big chunk of UB Group in return. Otherwise, there should be no deal.

With sharply rising interest rates affecting industry across the board, why should Mallya demand special treatment? The quota raj should end once for all.