Text of the letter written to The Honourable Minister of Civil Aviation
“Respected Shri Hardeep Puriji
May I have the pleasure of writing these few words to you in my personal capacity as an ordinary citizen and especially , on the occasion of the Birth Anniversary of Shri JRD Tata, who has personally been a role model and inspiration throughout my decades long career as an Air Indian and an aviator.
I write these words with a mixture of pride, pain, hope and optimism.
I am proud because I belong to a fraternity of selfless dedicated men and women who have thrown fears and personal safety aside to operate numerous flights to assist our beloved countrymen in the midst of a COVID19 Pandemic.
As I pen these words, I have a colleague battling for his life in hospital. Another Covid positive colleague lost his father a few weeks ago, while I am given to understand that another, lost both parents to COVID in quick succession after he infected them both. As fathers, husbands and sons, I am sure that all of us, including you, share their grief, worries and pain.
I am proud to be associated with colleagues like them who have selflessly dedicated themselves to a larger national cause – without shirking or blinking an eye, without pay for months and without hope. Our chests swell with pride while we fight back our tears and see the steely quiet resolve in the eyes of our loved ones – parents , spouses , young children – who have stood by us and offered us strength and support , not caring about what fate or future has in store for them or Air India.
I am pained that these very men and women who form the very backbone of our determined national effort, have now been suddenly forgotten and discarded with one flourish of a pen.
It is an undeniable fact that the nation is going through great economic hardship and everybody must shoulder the responsibility and pain. A massive fiscal deficit is evident, tangible and can be resolved with prudent fiscal measures and collective decision making. I believe that all my colleagues understand this fact very clearly. However, the developments in the last few days following the aftermath of (unilaterally imposed) massive, disproportionate, retrospective pay cuts and other policies, give rise to a pertinent set of questions in our minds.
Must fellow citizens sacrificing so much for the nation be reduced to mere faceless figures and numbers in a profit and loss account or a balance sheet?
Do soldiers who return from battle face similar ignominy and debasement after they have rendered their services just because of a fiscal deficit?
Do the recent developments also bring out a deficit of Trust and Compassion? How do we safeguard our nation from these?
As fellow citizens, united under the magnificent principles of our great Constitution, are we not expected to stand shoulder to shoulder and fight every battle as equals? More so, in a government owned undertaking? Have “We The People”, not given this great constitution to ourselves? Should not the relationship between one set of citizens and another be that of brotherhood in the spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding, instead of that of a master and slave?
I have absolutely no doubt Sir that you will agree and empathise with the points that I have raised , not only as a custodian of our Constitution but more so because you have also served as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations – a body that enshrines the principles of Universal Brotherhood and Justice . As a former professor of History, I have no doubt Sir, that you have always appreciated the amount of sacrifice, pain, blood and sweat that has gone into framing the underlying spirit of our great Indian Constitution.
May I end this letter with words of hope and I quote the late JRD Tata-
“Good human relations not only bring great personal rewards but are essential to the success of any enterprise.”
I am hopeful of the future, Sir, because a great pragmatic, visionary like you, is the Captain of our ship. I am hopeful of the future because the greatest challenges that befall us today can be swiftly resolved across the table through dialogue and discussion – not confrontation, agitation or litigation.
We look up to you Sir, with optimism and hope.
Capt Subhashish Majumdar”