New Delhi: “Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign.”
The next time you clamber on board the national carrier, get ready to hear this stirring salute to the victorious nation whenever the flight attendants and pilot have an announcement to make.
For in keeping with the “mood of the nation”, Air India crew have been directed to say “Jai Hind” after every flight announcement and to do so “with much fervour”.
So that means once when the crew announce that boarding has been completed. Then again when seatbelts have to be worn. Once when the ‘Swacch Bharat’ message is delivered and passengers are requested to keep the toilets clean. Then when the meal service announcement is made, and again for trash collection. The pilot usually makes a mid-flight announcement so that’s another Jai Hind. Then when the descent begins. And again, after the plane lands.
Since all announcements are made in Hindi and english, that is a minimum of 16 ‘Jai Hinds’ per flight, not counting additional fervent exhortations each time there is turbulence.
Finally, it is not clear if the new advisory applies to inflight announcements made just for the crew, such as “Crew, prepare for landing. [Pause]. Jai Hind! [with fervour]”. And “Disarm doors and cross check. Jai Hind!”.
According to PTI, this directive comes straight from Air India’s chairman and managing director, Ashwani Lohani.
Company officials say the current advisory is a “reminder” to the staff, in line with the “mood of the nation”.
Earlier, when he was CMD in 2016, Lohani had issued a milder version of the current diktat: “The captain of a flight should often connect with passengers during the journey and, at the end of first address, using the words ‘Jai Hind’ would make a tremendous impact,” Lohani said in a communication to his staff in May 2016.
Until today, Air India pilots routinely ended their one in-flight announcement to passengers with a ‘Jai Hind’.
But in today’s political climate, once is clearly not enough to demonstrate unstinting loyalty to the nation.
Expected next: Jai Hinds by the ground staff during the boarding process and perhaps a requirement that passengers sing the national anthem before strapping themselves in for their flights.