Friday, March 30, 2012
Of Maharaja's & Kingfishers
By Manuwant Choudhary
This time I did something to save India's airline industry...instead of taking the 3 paise cheaper train I flew all over the country.
If India's tycoon Vijay Mallya is broke running an airline then I wonder who can run an airline.
And everyday we see India's aviation minister Ajit Singh on national TV threatening Vijay Mallya that he must run at least 5 airplanes otherwise his license will be suspended.
Mallya's accounts have been frozen and everyone from tax authorities to investors want their money back.
And pilots and airline staff have quit en-masse.
I wanted to fly Kingfisher like always but my travel agent booked me on Air India and even though I was travelling within India I would have to fly from the international aiport.
For once I thought I was going to be ok...since the Indian government had pumped in 14000 crores into AIR India.
At the airport I had to go through all kinds of questionares..like what watch I wore and whether I carried foriegn exchange with me and many, many queries....it was worse than flying overseas.
And going through the fancy international airport with all those duty-free shops with no money in my pocket I really felt like err what am I really doing trying to save an airline industry.
An Air India staffer dressed in orange coat & grey skirts...looked not so happy...as though she was waiting for her love...but definitely not passengers..and her coat was like crumpled...
Doesn't AIR India have a dhobi or laundry services?
And as we boarded the plane I found myself entering a plane with no one to greet me...and suddenly I heard voices...airhostesses shouting across..."Someone please Door, Door...Door...Namaste Namste Namaste..."
But No one really came to the door.
I found my agent had booked a nice window seat at the rear...If only I wore a kurta-pyajma I would feel like I was Praful Patel travelling on a private AIRBUS! There were no passngers in the rear half of the plane.
Just then I noticed a young mother with her son looking for their seats and they were just next to mine but the boy wanted a window seat so chivalrous as I am I offered the boy my seat.
The boy was well-brought up and the mother educated and pretty..she knew how to speak to her son. Even in India we don't see such mothers or sons...it reminded me about my own childhood when we flew Indian airlines to Bagdogra...going to a boarding school.
And just when all seemed lost...the airhostess suddenly appeared and chatted up the boy and gave him a game gift...and I could not help but say..""Wow..they still do this..."
In my school days when we would fly Indian Airlines the airhostesses would like fall in love with us in our blue blazers ..and we would be given packets of sweets and even taken inside the cockpits and the pilots would explain how to fly an airplane.
Now this is impossible.
I hate the terrorists for taking away this..from our lives.
But the boy I met in the plane I am sure would head an Indian private company that will not be corrupt and will make India proud.
Air India's airhostesses should just retire but I was really not sure why they looked so unhappy.
Its only a few days later I read that Air India staff were not paid salaries for 5 months.
And AIR India management planned to hire Kingfisher pilots in case their own pilots went on strike.
But why don't they pay their own pilots?
On my air travel I wondered why the Indian government is so smug when they themselves cant run an airline...also is the current crisis only to do with Mallya or the entire industry.
Has India's government taxed the airline industry to death?
And if not Mallya then who will run India private airlines?
I got my answer when I returned to Patna...the BIG news was that the Income Tax department in a raid found 5 crore rupees in a wheat bag from the factory of Vinay Kumar Sinha, a treasurer of the Janata Dal United.
Plus 55 apartments all over the country.
Bihar's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar actually lived in the apartment of Vinay Kumar Sinha for many years until he became Chief Minister.
But when I searched the news item I found only two hits and that too agency reports in the Indian Express.
A muted response to a BIG story.
India today has many, many Vinay Kumar Sinha's & Nitish Kumar's...and they are not afraid of Anna Hazare !
Not Mallya...they are the Kings...(if you want a transfer or posting in Bihar...all you need is a few crores)
And maybe one day if they really feel like it...they will run their own airline.