Thursday, October 29, 2020

Modi admn has erred on madly expensive Air India One

During the unprecedented Covid pandemic when leading world scientists are focussed on looking for a preventive or a cure, the news of the second astronomically priced VVIP Boeing plane arriving in India for the Prime Minister et al caused kind of a shock. Most conscious people raised eyebrows in utter disapproval of the 84,000 million-rupee flying machines. First of all, India is a relatively poorer country than the very wealthy USA.

More significantly, the members of the political executive of India have absolutely no ‘threat perception’ as per surveys although there could be some kind of terror attack apprehensions on land as insurgent groups are constantly on the prowl  to cause damage to life and property only if the security arrangements are lax. But for sure, there is hardly any likelihood of danger being posed to airborne political dignitaries.The pandemic has pushed the country behind by twenty-odd years on the economic front. Everything economic that sustains a developing country has been destroyed due to lockdown situations over nine long months.

So a 8,400 crore-rupee plane for political guys around this critical times is bound to hurt the people of India. This is the second of the two special Boeing 777 aircrafts, part of the fancifully named ‘Air India One’ fleet for VVIPs including the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister.

 The first Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft had arrived in India earlier in 2018. This highly-customised super special aircraft has meeting rooms, office space as well as missile defence systems. It will be used by President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and PM Narendra Modi, all three virtually without any threat perception while in air. The two planes will be flown by Indian Air Force pilots.

The super class modified Boeing 777-300ER will replace the older 747-400 for VVIP duties. The ‘Air India One’ has its own missile defence system called the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).

The plane is capable of countering missile threats from any enemy based on land or flying in pursuit. Most sensitive citizens wonder if politicians of India deserve such luxury.

Apart from sophisticated antimissile gadgetry, the aircrafts are equipped with an advanced and secured communication system that allows availing audio and video communication functions midair without any worries of hacking or being taped.  The aircraft has a big suite for the VVIP and a mini medical facility with emergency operation theatre. It also has a special space for the media people accompanying the so-called VVIPs. Except a few economy class rear seats, all seats are Business class.

 The B777 aircraft can fly over 17 hours at a single stretch.The USA is a wealthy country and its head of state is a dignitary of colossal status. He of course runs risk of being targeted by various international adversaries and enemies for remaining at war with many rogue states at any given point in time.

 Besides, the US has the resources and the skills to spend on personal safety of its head of state. India has nothing in comparison with the Americans. Yet, the Modi-headed Government, which screams ‘austerity’ at all levels, jumped for the madly-priced aircraft for the safety of people who will never have any danger while in air.

29/10/20 Biswaraj Patnaik/Pioneer

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