what a retrograde step?
Much as I hate to say it in these free market days, it is the correct step.
The govt must have a say in how their money is spent.
"innocent" private airlines often bribe their way into the corridors of power and get the regulations changed to suit themselves.
I willingly flew IA/ AI in the past, not the best, I know, but they were ok.
I would continue to fly Indian on domestic routes if I could.
"Shut up, take your seat and mind your own business" is the best way to deal with IA/AI. Sometimes if the delhi flight was delayed, they have willingly and without additional expenses routed me through other cities. Often a solicitous meal coupon was mysteriously managed for me while I waited. Many people have a good opinion of the government carriers.
Flight dates and times were changed at very short notice on just phone calls without any additional charges. At the check in counter a simple request for upgrade to business class would be honored six times out of ten. Those were the days when I traveled about twenty five days in a month for a little over three years continuously.
But the public sector rapacious mentality is most evident among the flight and cabin crews. I have seen many booze bottles and plenty of food being taken away. Hell, one time they even took pity on me and gave me a bottle of expensive champagne at rome where I deplaned along with the crew change.