Why recruit sportspersons when they make no efforts to publicise Air India, ask employees

Pankaj Upadhyay MumbaiJune 22, 2019UPDATED: June 22, 2019 01:59 IST Employees are angry alleging that even at a time when there is shortage of manpower sportspersons are granted long leaves | File photo from REUTERSHIGHLIGHTSAir India employees say they have, on numerous occasions, raised objections to this practiceThey allege that the sports department in Air India has become an avenue for promotionsA letter demands long leaves obtained should be investigated by vigilance departmentNational carrier Air India recruits sportspersons under the sports quota.After Air India hit an acute financial crisis, the employees of the national carrier have put forth a demand saying that sports section should be restricted till the company is out of its crisis as the sports section incurs expenditure running into crores which is a burden on the company.The employees said that given the financial crisis of Air India, the company should work judiciously; especially when essential facilities given to the staff are being stopped or curtailed.The letter comes in the wake of the RTI revelations which have yet again started a heated debate if Air India is justified in these appointments and spending when it is going through a financial crisis.RTI reply by Air India Sports Promotional Board on August 8, 2018, reveals that there are a total 203 sportspersons employed with Air India from various games like hockey, cricket, football, kabaddi, badminton, chess, shooting, tennis, carom, judo, golf and swimming.Air India employees say that they have, on numerous occasions, raised objections to this practice.They allege that the sports department in Air India has become an avenue for promotions.”There are many sports persons who are indulging in private business. They take leave even for events. A kabaddi player takes leave for KPL. They even coach private teams at Air India’s expense. They take sports leave at the drop of a hat for personal events. Even for cultural activities they don’t report to work,” an employee said on condition of anonymity.advertisementIndia Today TV is now in the possession of a letter written by the President of Federation of All India Service Engineers Association (AISEA) and Air India Employees Guild (AIEG) to the Secretary Civil Aviation and CMD Air India.The letter complains on how the national carrier is spending on sportsmen and cultural activities despite huge losses to the company.The President of AISEA and AIEG in the letter says that the employees on many occasions have highlighted/objected to the issue with the management.He charges the Air India officials of making efforts to suppress the information with regards to the details on sportspersons.”It was only on the orders of the CIC that the said information was provided to the applicant.” the letter read.”It can be noted that the said 203 sportsmen have been benefiting from the largesse of the company but the company in return has not derived any major benefit by recruiting these sportsmen. It is a matter of record that they are being recruited on supernumerary posts. In none of the major sports events both national and international we see these sports persons carrying the Air India logo/banner but have the names of other sponsors boldly displayed on their sports gear. They forget that it was Air India that gave them the break in terms of bread and butter, but have made no attempt to publicise it,” the letter added.The letter further says that these sportspersons recruited barely attend to work under the guise of practice or events in which too there is no publicity for Air India. The only place where Air India gets publicity is when there is a tournament amongst the public sector undertakings or amongst the airlines.Former Air India Executive Director Jitendra Bhargava said, “Air India had introduced this policy to give global exposure to budding sportsmen when corporate patronage was a rare phenomenon and sportsmen were not well paid. The policy needed a change as more corporates came in and players in some games started earning in crores and Air India’s own finances worsened. Most players like cricketers, don’t undertake publicity assignments for the airline because they are tied up with other sponsors. Regrettably, neither successive management have asked them to contribute nor have sportsmen felt any obligation towards the company, barring a few exceptions.”The employees are also angry alleging that even at a time when there is shortage of manpower the sportspersons are granted long leaves for participating in private events and also for undertaking their private business which has no publicity value for Air India.Aviation expert Mohan Ranganathan said, “During the 70s, 80s and 90s, sportspersons, especially in Hockey, did bring in publicity and also spent time working as flight pursers, etc. The shift to having sportsmen who are doing no work is making it a worthless expenditure of tax payers money.”The letter demands that the long leaves obtained should be investigated by the vigilance department as they are a burden on the scarce resources of the company.advertisementAir India refused to comment on the matter.Also Read | Air India issues caution notice to cabin crewAlso Read | Air India may ban pilots from bringing own food after fight over washing lunchboxAlso Watch | Bhangra for celebrating first Air India flight between Amritsar and Birmingham in 8 yearsGet real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byMohak Gupta Next Why recruit sportspersons when they make no efforts to publicise Air India, ask employeesThe employees said that given the financial crisis of Air India, the company should work judiciously; especially when essential facilities given to the staff are being stopped or curtailed.advertisement

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