New Delhi, March 5 (The Telegraph): Crew members on Air India flights have been directed to end each announcement with the phrase “Jai Hind” (victory to India), as tensions continue with Pakistan.
A memo from Amitabh Singh, Air India’s Director of Operations, stated: “With immediate effect, all (crew) are required to announce ‘Jai Hind’ at the end of every announcement after a slight pause and much fervor.”
According to officials, the current advisory is a “reminder” to the staff, in line with the “mood of the nation”, after a suicide bombing left 40 Indian police officers dead in Indian Kashmir, leading to the first air skirmish between the rivals since 1971.
Questions have continued Pakistan’s involvement with jihadist groups in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief of the Indian Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, on Tuesday said: “We have seen how quickly terrorist groups evolve across the globe and this particular ‘brand’ of terror may well become a global problem in the near future.”
The febrile atmosphere last week cooled after a captured Indian pilot was returned to Delhi as a “peace gesture” by Imran Khan’s government in Islamabad.
However, at street level nationalism has seen a reprise, with many questioning whether India and Pakistan should still meet at the Cricket World Cup this summer in England. Matches between the two are flashpoints for violence during turbulent diplomatic times.
Air India, which has debts of over £3 billion and receives millions in state bailouts, was mocked online for its jingoistic slogan.
Tweeters asked whether this move would suddenly make it profitable, while some joked the airline should just go the whole distance and send its stewardesses into combat, while wearing camouflage sarees.
The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, criticised the tubthumping new policy.
“Little surprise that with General Elections around the corner, the josh of patriotism hasn’t even spared the skies,” she tweeted.
The move by Air India has precedence. Its Chairman, Ashwani Lohani, issued a similar direction to pilots in May 2016, saying: “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.”