Evacuation of Indians from Ukraine Amidst War

As Russia and Ukraine went into war against each other, thousands of Indians remain stranded in Ukrainian cities which are under shelling from Russian forces. Students form the bulk of the Indians living in Ukraine, who are pursuing higher studies from universities in that country. To ensure their safe return to India, before a war breaks out, Tata Group owned Air India operated special flights to Kyiv. However, most critics have termed it as too little too late.

On the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the first special Air India flight from Kyiv flew from Kyiv and reached Delhi the next morning. The first batch consisted of 240 passengers, mostly students, who had to pay a hefty fee to return to their country. The flight left Kyiv on 22nd February and landed in New Delhi in the early hours of 23rd February. A Ukraine International Airlines flight also reached safely on Thursday morning, 24th February, with 182 Indian citizens, mostly students. More Air India special flights were scheduled on 24th, 26th February and 6th March. But as Ukraine closed their airspace on 24th February, the scheduled Air India flight had to return from midway. More than 20,000 Indians are still stranded in Ukraine, waiting for their chance to catch a flight back home..

As there is no way to return home by air from Ukraine, thousands of Indians set on foot or local transport to reach Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Hungary, the countries which share land border with Ukraine. Air India now focuses on bringing back stranded Indians from these countries. The second Air India evacuation flight with 250 Indians touched Delhi on Sunday, Feb 27, from the Romanian capital, Bucharest. The third Air India evacuation flight reached Mumbai the same day with 219 Indians from Budapest, the capital of Hungary. However, more than 400 students have lined up at the Ukraine-Poland border, in freezing conditions, unable to cross-over to Poland. Though border authorities allowed Ukrainians to cross-over, most Indians were barred from entering Poland.

More flights are expected to follow in coming days from neighbouring countries of Ukraine, to bring back Indians fleeing Ukraine. Though the Indian Government is proud to evacuate 2000 Indians from Ukraine, a lot more is to be done, as more than 18,000 Indians are still stranded in Ukraine, most in cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv on the main area of clashes. Overall, as many critics say, the evacuation effort by India is yet to be up to the mark.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Air India Comes Back to Tata

Air India makes a comeback to its founders after 68 years. In 1932, J. R. D. Tata founded Tata Air Services, later renamed Tata Airlines, which is the precursor of Air India. Back then, J.R.D Tata, an Indian aviator as well as a business aspirant, started flying between Madras and Karachi via Bombay and Ahmedabad. More destinations, such as Colombo and Delhi have been added soon after, and Tata Airlines soon became a popular choice of airways.

Tata Airlines expanded beyond the borders of India to foreign countries, and it did well to connect every nook and corner of the country back in the pre-independence era. It also contributed to World War 2, giving aeroplanes for military evacuation services to the Royal Air Force. After Independence, the Government of India took a 49% stake in Tata Airlines, which now came to be known as Air India, and in 1953, PM Jawaharlal Nehru nationalised Tata Airlines by passing the Air Corporations Act.

In a way, after 68 long years after 1953, Tata is all set to acquire the renowned air carrier. Initial attempts to make Air India private started way back in 2001. However, it got delayed, and Air India started to operate on losses which became a huge burden to the Government of India. Finally, 100% privatisation of Air India was looked upon as the best solution for Air India. The complete privatisation process is expected to take place by December 2021. Tata will be the sole owner of Air India as of now.

Privatisation has been a theatre of debate in the recent past when India is moving towards capitalism and looking to privatise its stakes in Government sectors. While private sectors will call for better facilities, greater passenger amenities, and user friendly, it has also irked some employees who feel their jobs are not secure anymore. Privatisation may also weaken a transportation company like Air India, which may opt for cancellation of loss-making routes, or shut down services. The main question is whether Air India after privatisation can operate from the most remote parts of the country, and win confidence among the employees. Let us know your opinion in the comment section below.

All-Women Crew from India Creates History in Railways and Airways

Women empowerment has become one of the most common topics of discussion in every philanthropic activity. It is true that women need extra efforts in society to achieve some goals that are comparatively easy for men. But more than that, they require motivation. They need examples so that they could follow the same path to success.

Enough talking is done, let’s get on the topic. Two Government-owned organizations, Indian Railways, and Air India have recently made history with an all-women crew driving a train and flying a plane over the north pole. Let’s go through their stories that may set an example for thousands of women in years to come.

Railway’s Story :

On January 6, 2021, a 3 women crew, Akanksha Ray, Udita Verma, and Kumkum Suraj Dongre, piloted a goods train from Mumbai division in Maharashtra to Gujarat. This incident was historic as this is the first time an all-women crew driven and piloted a goods train in the Western Railways. Akanksha Ray, who is an MBA graduate from Indore, was the goods guard, while Kumkum Suraj Dongre was the loco pilot, and Udita Verma was the assistant loco pilot.

The journey was not very long, only from Vasai in Palghar district of Maharastra near Mumbai to Vadodara. However, it is quite a historic train journey for even the crew themselves. Ray believes that this will break the shackles for many Indian women to take up such jobs that have been historically performed by men only.

Air India’s Story :

The other historic move was that Air India made its longest direct route flight from San Francisco in the US to Bengaluru in India, covering 16000 km and also flying over the North Pole. But what made this incident far apart was that all 4 crew members were women. Captain Zoya Aggarwal said that this is the shortest route between the two cities and will save 10 tonnes of fuel.

This 17-hour long journey is also the longest direct flight journey in the world. It was indeed one of the greatest achievements of Indian aviation history. Flight AI176 took off at 8:30 pm and reached its destination at 3:07 am. Apart from Zoya were Captain Papagari Thanmai, Captain Akansha Sonaware, and Captain Shivani Manhas all pilots of the plane.

Conclusion :

Today’s success sets the future tomorrow. It is necessary for someone to step up for participation for the others to follow in the future. That is why every first have a unique significance that the others don’t have. These 7 women have created history today, at the same time have opened doors for many other aspirants to follow in their footsteps. Through hard work, determination and passion, and some intelligence, they have proved once again that being a woman does not stop them from doing what they really can.

Written by – Himadri Paul