TATA, But Brand Air India
Air India had some unique qualities before it was taken over by the Tatas or Tata. While the Maharajah stood on desktops, Air India counters, and on the side of some of the planes to seduce potential clients into the planes with his smile and a flattering bow, the hospitality inside the aircraft was another matter. The Maharajah service is absent inside, particularly in a flight from London to Delhi.
The TV console rarely worked as did the call buttons. Point out to the attendant, and the passenger was told, ‘It will be fixed soon’. Sometimes ‘sir’ was added, sometimes not, depending on what the passenger looked like. What about another seat? ‘No, sorry, there is no other seat available.’ And by the time a long haul flight landed, the TV console still refused to turn on.
The lucky few whose TV did work had a choice of films and music that was best suited to the first passengers who ever climbed aboard Air India in 1932 or soon after. But the music was not even old classics. It was somewhere in a different age from second-hand music shops.
Nevertheless, one persevered and hoped. Sometimes the seats didn’t go back. It would have been tolerable had Air India charged a lot less than other competitive airlines flying directly into Delhi. But not really, the prices were almost similar.
Air India management may have been the only one in the world that managed to take an advanced 787 Boeing Dreamliner with latest modcons and change it into a version of Haryana Roadways Bus. Nothing is a challenge for Indian management when it has ‘permanent’ jobs.
So it was a relief when the Tata group took over. With Jags and Tata Software technologies, one thought flying Air India would be a different experience this time.
Was It? Perhaps Tataji needs time to get his or their heads (Tatas and co) around Air India yet. This time from London to Delhi, none of the TV consoles worked. So, no films and no music! Luckily, I had a book to read and as night flight, time to sleep.
Stewards avoided eye contact, in case one asked for another Orange juice. Food was run of the mill.
Coming back from Delhi, the TV worked in some seats. Perhaps, Tata Technologies man finally got around with his screw and pliers. Mine worked but some passengers struggled and just gave up. In a day flight, not having any entertainment for eight hours was torture that Air India delivered well.
This time my memory went to the creaky bus of Punjab Roadways, I once took. One can never know whether it is going forward or backward or sideways or whether the road is moving like a beltway. But remarkably, get on place A and it gets you to place B where you want to go. Punjab Roadways buses are a marvel of Technology working with Hand of God.
So far Tataji has progressed or regressed Brand Air India even further and converted the Dreamliner from a Haryana Roadways Bus to a Punjab Roadways Bus.
Let’s hope the big boss will take a ride in economy in one of his planes incognito and see if the Dreamliner can be restored to what it says, a Dreamliner. So far brand Air India lives on despite management by TATA.
Copping Out From COP 27
Six weeks after the biggest climate change event, COP 27, little has changed in the pollution levels of Delhi or even in western cities. The media however was full of ‘Biggest Breakthrough’.
The greatest news that the whole world was apparently waiting for from COP 27 was that the Big polluting countries agreed that the developing countries affected by the massive pollution caused by the Big Polluters, need to be helped. It certainly took the breath away from some people. Not because of the alleged breakthrough, but because the obvious and the duty of the polluters was hailed as a breakthrough after many sleepless sessions by the diplomats and the experts.
Let’s see in another way. A rich household with big house has barbeques and burns grass and wood quite near to their poorer neighbour’s small house with small garden. Every time the small householder put laundry for drying the smoke makes them dirty again. Big neighbour won’t listen to pleas to stop blowing soot so near the boundary, especially when clothes are being dried. Big Neighbour just ignores.
So small neighbour goes to court. Court orders big neighbour to BBQ away from small neighbour, not burn grass etc and ask the small neighbour before doing any of that in case the latter is going to put laundry for drying.
Simple and almost everyone would expect that this is justice. Not Big polluters, apparently. They had to be lobbied by the small islands, small countries and thousands of NGOs that their pollution is sinking small islands, destroying small developing countries and harming people everywhere in the world. Finally, at COP 27 the Big Polluters accepted that they may be partly responsibly and as such may need to assist the polluted to be safer!
Here we are in a bizarre climate change world. The big seven, USA, Canada, Europe, UK, China, India and Australia having polluted the atmosphere enough and put many small Islands and developing countries in Africa on life support machine, had this to say after years of damaging, ‘Oh yeah, we should be thinking of sorting a bit of the damage done to you all’.
A breakthrough? Breakthrough! Such is the world of international politics, capitalism and big power. The least developed countries not only face near extinction, but they have to beg to be saved from the damage caused by the Big 7.
Closing An Indian Account
Go into an Indian Bank and if you have some basic paperwork, the account will be opened within minutes. Now, try closing it or changing your address, particularly if it is a business account. The amount of paperwork, notarising, stamping etc can drive even a yoga master insane.
It took two employees two and half hours each to object to each leaf of the paper work that I had meticulously gathered. It took three days going back and forth from Delhi to Punjab to get notarised, get the right document re-notarised, get a stamp, get this and that notarised and fill in a lengthy form. In the end, I thought this is not India, this is in fact Notaryland. They should call it Notary Mata not Bharat Mata.
Even then, there were objections. After giving the two junior employees a talk on how the inflexible rules of Indian bureaucratic systems, even in private Banks, can become flexible if they go and escalate the issue to the top man and say there is an irate customer who has steam coming from his ears and could blow up in self combustion anytime, they finally spent another half hour with the Boss and came back saying, ‘Sir it may be possible to close your bank account in the next few days!’.
Such is the beauty of Indian bureaucratic systems. It is Quantum Bureaucracy. Nothing is possible and everything is possible. Two parallel universes exist in the same plane, space and time. One just has to push the right nuclei or Quarts and get the right fusion reaction.
And then I reminded them that despite all these ludicrous and tight rules the imaginative Nirav Modi walked away with over $13 Billion. I am sure that the reason he is resisting to come back is because he dreads spending 3-4 days getting his papers notarised all over the place simply to close his bank account. Don’t know why his lawyer hasn’t put that in his plea against extradition from UK. ‘Your Lord, my client dreads the nightmare torture when he will be asked to close his bank account in India’. But how did he manage to take all those rupees out despite this obstacle course in Indian Banks in the first place? The two employees looked a little puzzled.
Second I reminded them that collectively they had spent some six hours and their more well paid boss, about 30 minutes (equivalent to four hours of a junior bank employee pay) to close a small bank account with almost no money made for the bank in the process.
If I were a big shareholder I would dismiss the Chairman and if I were the Chairman, I would dismiss the Operations manager. Near 10 hours to close a Bank account and not a single rupee earned! What sort of Business model is that? Imagine 1,000 account closures in a day and the colossal money wasted by the Bank for just closing accounts! The employees looked even more puzzled. They only follow rules. Ten hours of Banking time invested, not a single rupee earned and Big Modi (the PM this time not the other one who walked away with lots of cash under his nose) wants to make Indian Banks among the Top Ten in the world. They don’t need a ‘comedy store’ in India, every day is a comedy?