Since 1953, the Tata group has been trying to get back into aviation. Now it is ready with not one but two partners, Singapore Airlines and Air Asia to take the skies again. The re-entry of Tatas also brings some sense of relief and responsibility in the airline business
The Tatas love to be in the air; they made waves when Tata Sons started Tata Airlines way back in 1932. It was renamed as Air India International in 1946, became Air India for short and by 1953 got nationalised. Subsequent attempts by the Tata group to be in airline business, when they roped in Singapore Airlines, twice, also did not get them anywhere. But, whoever has heard of Tata Sons giving up on their legitimate quest for success?
Now Tata-SIA Airlines is a reality, in as much as the Civil Aviation Ministry has cleared, just the other day, for them to go ahead with the project. Earlier, as is required by law, the Home Ministry had to issue the security clearance for the directors, which gave its approval of Prasad Menon (Chairman), Mukund Rajan (Tata sons brand custodian and chief ethics officer) and SIA's Executive Vice President, Mark Swee Wah.
Official order for issuance of No Objection Certificate is expected to be sent soon to Tata-SIA Airlines, on receipt of which the next course of action is to submit their application to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for obtaining the airline licence.
Here again, as Airline Regulator, DGCA will carry out their own inspection in regard to the technical capabilities of the airline applicant (like staff, engineering set up, type and quality of aircraft etc) to start the airline. Once this is complete, the airline is registered by them as "a scheduled airline" in the country to commence passenger operations, and issue the Air Operators' Permit (AOP).
It would appear that hectic preparations are underway for them to commence operations, presumably in June this year, if not earlier. In the meantime, the domestic airline, Air Asia, in which Tatas are associated are also in the final lap to get the clearance to take the sky, in spite of the petitions and objections that other domestic airlines had made through their Federation. Air Asia will be a regional low-fare operator in the southern region, covering two- and three-tier cities and towns, and planning not to go to Mumbai and Delhi, the expensive airports.
Now that the clearance and scheduled operations of Tata-SIA Airline is only weeks away, it is amply clear that these two airlines will be able to greatly supplement and complement each other in extending service to the weary air traveller. This combination of a full service domestic airline in the form of Tata-SIA Airline, and a low fare "associate" in the form of Air Asia will be a boon to the passengers, who await their inaugural service, soon!
It is sad to note that despite the DGCA objections to Spice Jet on the issue of Re1 ticket, both IndiGo and Air India have some out with similar sales campaign, though with different conditions, all of whom are in the red. It is time these two Tata associated airlines take the sky so as to bring some sense of relief and responsibility to this airline business. Also, we strongly feel that the rule of 5/20 applicable to the airline for international travel will also find its way to be scrapped, sooner than later.
In the real sense, it will be the survival of the fittest!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
Crucial to rehabilitation of paraplegics is emotional and psychological support, finds Hitisha Jain
You never know where fate can lead you. A fraction of a second could confine you to a life on a wheelchair. Paraplegic Foundation works for paraplegics. This permanent disability usually occurs due to a fall, injury or infection of the spinal cord.
Paraplegics have no control and no sensation in their extremities (legs and even hands in case of quadriplegics) and have little or no bowel and bladder control. They need emotional and psychological support immediately on discharge, since many of them may contemplate suicide. Paraplegic Foundation was set up by Sulabha Warde (president emeritus) a medical social worker and Dr Ashraf Machhiwala, physiotherapist. Both were working then at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General (LTMG) Hospital (Mumbai).
The Foundation’s aim is to work towards total rehabilitation including emotional, psychological, physical, educational and economic. The motto of the Foundation ‘I can, I will’, was adopted in 1968. The founders noticed that there was no organisation to look into their post-rehabilitation needs. This inspired them to start the Foundation.
Ms Warde started an NGO for people with disabilities, in the memory of her brother. “Slowly I realised that paraplegic patients face more severe and painful problems than those with other disabilities, so, I thought of concentrating only on paraplegia,” she says. “The first four patients were very difficult to handle. Unfortunately, two of them died because the medical facilities were not very advanced then,” she recalls.
Lack of awareness and funds were among the many challenges faced by the founders. Though there are many organisations working for the disabled, there is less awareness regarding the special needs of paraplegics. “Due to lack of sensation in their limbs, for example; you could drive a nail into the foot of a paraplegic and he/she will not feel anything or realise this! Moreover, due to lack of sensation, bedsores are a constant issue,” says Sandeep Balani, joint honorary secretary of the Foundation.
The organisation provides shelter to about 25 in-patients; most of them have recently become paraplegics and need nine to 18 months of rehabilitation and therapy. Every activity in the rehabilitation process is given a name. Sathi-Munch is a support group for creating awareness, sensitising people about paraplegia, promoting interaction between paraplegics, taking up disability rights-related issues with the authorities. Suruchi provides free high-protein meals to beneficiaries. Sweekar is a ‘half way rehabilitation home’ for in-patients and provides personalised services of care and affection. Professionals like doctors, physiotherapists, social workers, counsellors provide free treatment like acupressure, acupuncture and medicines.
Shramsafalya is a training centre which provides economic support by training them in block printing, making sanitary pads, envelopes, stationery, etc. Thirty beneficiaries are trained in the art department and workshop and stalls have been provided to 27 paraplegics at municipal and government hospitals to sell the items made by them.
Sahayya is an effort to provide aids and appliances such as tricycles, wheelchairs, walkers, and mattress. Medical aid and financial assistance is provided to paraplegics, including vocational training for children. Jigar conducts sports sessions. Games like cricket and throwball are played, which give joy and confidence to patients and encourages team spirit amongst them.
While the two founders pooled in their own resources to start the Foundation, it now has several donors including GlaxoSmithKline India. “We are planning to set up another residential rehabilitation centre, a 25 bed, in-patient facility, at our Sanjeevan Deep premises at Airoli, Navi Mumbai similar to the one at Sion,” says Mr Balani.
Donations are exempt under Section 80G of Income-Tax Act. Donations in kind, like wheelchairs and other rehabilitation aids, are also welcome.
T-1, Old barracks of LTMG Hospital,
Next to VGP showroom, Sion, Mumbai 400022
Tel: 24071671 / 24033669
Email: [email protected]
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