Sunday, October 10, 2021

When Indira Gandhi said sorry to ‘Dear Jeh’

 Former PM Indira Gandhi had written to JRD Tata shortly after he was removed as chairman of Air India by the Morarji Desai government in February 1978, saying she was “sorry” that he was no longer chairman of the airline — a position he held since March 1953.

“Air India must be as sad at the parting as you yourself. You were not merely chairman but the founder and nurturer who felt deep personal concern,” Gandhi, who was not in office at that time, said in her handwritten letter to JRD Tata.

The exchange between the two was shared on Twitter by Congress functionary Jairam Ramesh.

“It was this and the meticulous care you gave to the smallest detail, including the decor and the saris of the hostesses, which raised Air India to the international level and indeed to the top of the list,” Gandhi said in her letter, adding that no one could take this satisfaction from JRD nor belittle the government’s debt to him. She addressed JRD as “Dear Jeh” in the letter.

She also went on to refer to the “misunderstanding” between the two in her letter but did not elaborate.

“There was some misunderstanding between us but it was not possible for me to let you know of the pressures under which I had to function and the rivalries within the ministry of civil aviation. I would like to say no more,” Gandhi said in her letter which was written on the Guwahati-Calcutta flight on February 14, 1978, according to the copy of the letter shared by Ramesh on Twitter.

The senior Congress leader also attached JRD’s reply to Indira Gandhi on February 28, 1978. JRD addresses her as “Dear Indira” and said he was touched by the trouble she had taken to write to him regarding termination of his services by the government from Air India.

“I was touched by your kind reference to the part I played in building up the airline. I was fortunate in the loyalty and enthusiasm of my colleagues and staff and the support I got from government without either of which I could have achieved little,” said JRD signing off the letter as “Jeh.”

10/10/21 Times of India

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