Sunday, November 19, 2017

You Cannot Miss This Flight: Essays on Emerging India review: Headwinds of change

He chose R.K. Laxman’s ‘Common Man’ as his airline’s brand ambassador (there’s a delightful essay on this), while the common man remembers him still as a pioneer in the no-frills airline business. Air Deccan, his dream come true, may now be a part of aviation history, but the low-cost aviation dream continues to live on in India.

“I was just twenty-eight years old after having served eight years in the Army. From the cocoon of the Army (huge defence scandals were still unheard of then), I plunged into civilian life and realised to my shock and disbelief that fighting the Pakistanis was easier than battling our bureaucracy and government,” says Captain G.R. Gopinath, the trailblazer who needs no introduction.

In this collection of essays, from 2011 to 2017, most of which have been published in the mainstream media, with a few appearing in media blogs, the ‘unstoppable Indian’ gives a form to his thoughts and life-changing experiences, in five illuminating parts: as an entrepreneur who has faced the headwinds of Indian aviation (‘The DGCA is happily enforcing aviation rules from 1937’), created an airline with a difference and then sold it to the now embattled business tycoon Vijay Mallya, only to regret it later; as a narrator of the hardships entrepreneurs have to face; as an Indian who worries about the bureaucracy and the government’s ability to solve our numerous problems (‘Is the Swachh Bharat campaign in real danger of remaining a mere slogan?’); as a ‘politician’ who tested his mettle, especially with the Aam Aadmi Party (‘Why I joined AAP’ and ‘Why I quit the Aam Aadmi Party’ form two brief essays); and, as an individual, who shares vignettes of his early life and his general views (‘The Vadhyar who wrote his own horoscope: a tribute to unknown entrepreneurs’ and ‘If I could be a godman!’ are two picks).
18/11/17 Murali N. Krishnaswamy/The Hindu