(Pic courtesy : manjul.com via Google)
Hmmm …. Came across this news article today about an Air India pilot who got into trouble for creating and singing a rap about the company. Needless to say, he has been slapped with a gag order by Air India and his job now hangs in balance. The senior officials are apparently going to look into this matter and then “decide his fate”.
Yes, he has indeed used a lot of expletives in his rap, he has some sexist remarks about the stewardesses who fly with Air India but most importantly, he has blamed the senior management for the poor state that the airline is in, today. He has squarely pointed an accusatory finger at the Union for not taking up issues like salary not being paid on time and pilots being grounded for long periods of time etc. Other than the sexist remarks where he calls the stewardesses “60 year olds and aunties”, the rest of the rap is a presentation of reality – the reality and the sorry state that “our national airline” is in today. He’s portrayed Air India and its officials as the reality is. And yes, reality is harsh.
Air India rushed to issue a gag order on Capt.Anjum Chabra for having uploaded this rap song on YouTube. Did they not do that to cover their own backsides ? Surely they were not trying to protect Air India’s reputation – cos there isn’t much left of that any more, to protect. They issued a gag order on this First Officer because he dared to speak the truth. Not just dared to speak the truth, he went public with it. Akin to having the Air India officials (as also eventually some big shots in the government) being caught in the spotlight, in a very unsavoury manner.
I had raved and ranted about an Air India pilot delaying a flight (despite instructions from the company to fly directly to another destination) because she had wanted to pick up a bag of kachoris. Air India officials, then too, had promised to “look into the matter and take appropriate action”. No one heard anything about it after that. Nothing in the newspapers, nothing in the news. Even if one Googles for it, all that one gets is that one newsreport stating the flight was delayed because she opted to pick up her kachoris . Looking at it from Air India’s senior officials point of view, this is not surprising, is it ? Because it did not show them in bad light. It did not show the management in bad light. It did not show the pathetic aviation ministry in bad light. In all probability, this simply got shoved under the carpet and highly possible she was let off with just a warning. God help people whose lives were disrupted that day because of a bag of kachoris.
In January 2013, some of Air India’s cabin crew got into a fight and fisticuffs at a hotel in Chicago. Air India coolly underplayed the story by saying it happened because the said crew in question were contractual hires. Contractual hires or not, they represented Air India – India’s national airline. That did not get the officials’ goat as much as this rap did. Some articles say that this rap is extremely bad PR. In Chicago, the crew had to be confined to their hotel quarters that night with policemen at the door - in Air India’s books, would that construe as good PR ?
But this time around, everybody’s tail seems to be on fire. Because this rap song by this youngster has quite literally ripped the façade right off the faces of the senior officials in Air India.
Yes, he could have avoided the sexist remarks where he calls stewardesses “60 year old aunties”. That was uncalled for. Yet again, how is it that people like Digvijay Singh (on Rakhi Sawant) and our President’s son (Abhijit Mukherjee on the dented and painted comment) get away with a mere apology and “I withdraw my statement”.
There are remarks about Air India officials being upset because of the use of so many expletives in the song. My question here is – if he had sung a rap saying / conveying exactly the same thing but without the expletives, would he not have been rapped on the knuckles by Air India ? I’m sure they would still have issued a gag order on him and would have gone after him for having shed some light into the murky, behind the scene workings of the company.
What remains to be seen is whether Air India takes this as a reminder of the desperate need to really gets its act together – right from the top to the bottom or whether Anjum Chabra ends up being victimised and persecuted for his version of a Right that is said to be basic and constitutional in a country that claims to be the largest democracy on earth today - “freedom of speech”.