Whether you are a History buff or not, you must have read about the Bourbon dynasty of France, right? Well, in case you cannot recall, then it was the dynasty that was dethroned after the French Revolution, managed to regain its lost throne after the fall of Napoleon, and again lost it later after another emergence of popular dissatisfaction.
It was once famously said about the Bourbon dynasty that “they have learned nothing, and have forgotten nothing”. The remark was made in reference to the Bourbon dynasty’s unresponsiveness to public mood, even after once paying the price for the same by losing their throne. When they came back to throne after Napoleon’s fall, it was expected that they had learnt from their past mistakes of showing defiance to popular feelings, and would now be more cautions in dealing with the common citizenry. But the Bourbon kings soon proved this expectation to be wrong. Their administration was found to be carrying the same characteristics of their pre-Revolution rule, reflecting the same lack of responsiveness to and respect for the public emotions and feelings. They proved that they had learned nothing from their past experience. No wonder, they did not take much time to lose their throne again, this time for ever.
While the analogy may sound to be a bit too far fetched, I nevertheless find a close resemblance between the Bourbon Dynasty and the Indian civil aviation authority.
After the tragic Mangalore air crash people had expected that the Indian civil aviation mandarins would try to identify and address the operational and technical gaps, and would display a better performance at least for few days. Oh God, how wrong we were! Barely few days have passed after the tragedy, and the Indian civil aviation authority has already started showing its callousness towards public safety.
Just yesterday three Indian planes (1 Kingfisher, 1 Jetlite and 1 Jet Airways) had a close shave, as they had been diverted from the Delhi airport (to Jaipur) thanks to the shutdown of the Delhi airport. And why was the Delhi airport shut down in the first place? Because the airport was to cater to two VIP movements - President Pratibha Patil’s flight to China and Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdimunhamedov’s flight to Agra.
So what happened after the three above mentioned planes were diverted to Jaipur? The Jetlite flight landed on the Jaipur airport when it barely had the fuel to remain airborne for 3 minutes. The Kingfisher flight landed when it was left with the fuel to fly just for 10 minutes, while the Jet Airways flight was left with around 13 minutes of flying capacity at the time of landing. Just imagine what a disaster any of these flights would have faced if there were just a few minutes of delay in landing on the Jaipur airport.
And yes, apart from these three, eight other flights were diverted from the Delhi airport, while 20 other flights were forced to circle the Delhi airport for one hour. All for VIP safety.
Yes, I understand that there is an issue of protocol and basic security when it involves a VIP movement. There may have been some strong reason for temporarily shutting down the Delhi airport for “non VIP” planes. But what was the problem in informing the concerned flights beforehand, so that they could modify their route accordingly? Is there no element of co-ordination and management in the Indian civil aviation mechanism?
It is still understandable when a mishap takes place due to technical snag. But there is absolutely no mercy for operational snag, which is the result of nothing else but pure callousness.