From the Viewsroom

From the Viewsroom: Sheer disrespect

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on January 17, 2018


Air India’s good gesture falls flat because of its crassness

Air India, by telling Olympian Sakshi Malik to report to its office to pick up her ‘gift’ for winning a wrestling bronze at Rio, typifies the cavalier disregard that some state run companies have towards sport. AI’s CMD, Ashwani Lohani, has written to the athlete saying she can collect two business class tickets (for herself and a companion) for travel between any two destinations on the airline’s network from the reservation manager at its office in Delhi.

Offering the tickets to Sakshi Malik who is the first Indian female wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics is no doubt a fine way of acknowledging her achievement, particularly since she has said that she became a sportsperson so that she could travel by plane. But the way the airline went about it seemed less than proper or graceful.

Holding a felicitation ceremony to welcome Malik back and presenting her with the tickets would have been the thing to do, instead of asking her to come down to Delhi from Rohtak and present Lohani’s letter at the airline’s office to redeem the offer — and that, within a year.

Contrast this with the way Lohani welcomed Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar to his office as part of promotion for the star’s film Airlift, based on the true story of AI’s involvement in the evacuation of Indians from Kuwait after it was invaded by Iraq in the 1990s. The actor was shown around the airline’s headquarters. He also participated in a Hangout programme with live questions from the audience. There is no denying that AI has been good to sportspersons in the past; it also employs cricketers such as Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and VVS Laxman. It’s a shame that Sakshi Malik was not shown more respect.

Ashwini Phadnis, Senior Deputy Editor

Published on August 21, 2016

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