HAF writes to New York Times on blaming airline woes to caste system

Cambridge, MA (June 18, 2012) - HAF submitted the following Letter to the Editor to the New York Times. The letter was not published.
 
To the Editor:
"In a Time to Shine, India Can’t Get Off the Ground” (June 11, 2012) reports on various factors behind Air India’s stalled efforts to employ their new 787 Dreamliner fleet including mismanagement, contract disputes, labor strikes, and government bureaucracy.
 
Unfortunately, the author falsely attributes the problems to caste as well asserting that “Indians are deeply status conscious — the country’s ancient caste system includes thousands of categories — so the battle within the pilot ranks at Air India is no small matter to them.” With no supporting evidence for this derisive generalization, the author simply reinforces unnecessary and irrelevant colonial-era stereotypes about Indians.
 
Our own country’s airlines have been plagued with labor disputes during mergers. The six year long seniority dispute between US Airways’ pilot groups is near identical yet has never been attributed to class generalizations. Reporting of similar issues in India should be held to the same impartial standard.
 
Pawan Deshpande
Executive Council
Hindu American Foundation