If only more citizens exhorted lawmakers to “lead by example”, like Air India pilot Subhasish Majumdar, has done in a letter to civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju! Majumdar could sure seem stung by the minister’s statement that AI pilots were lagging in commitment compared with their private sector counterparts, but he does make the fair point in his letter titled “Lagging in Inspiration, Not Commitment” that in the light of Parliament’s winter session washout, “our politicians were ‘still lagging well behind’ in their commitment to the nation” as compared with most of their counterparts elsewhere in the world.
Speaking for the citizens of India, he wrote that the hope is that politicians “find it in the fitness of things to introspect and lead by example”. He rued that if an AI employee were to behave in the manner that the parliamentarians did during the session—“shouting slogans … obstructing the proceedings”—she/he would have been handed a reprimand at the very least while lawmakers stayed safe from any formal reproach.
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Such direct yet justified castigation—coming as it does with a certain amount of risk for a public sector employee—signals the coming of age of the Indian electorate. Even symbolic direct accountability goes a long way in making democracy healthier.
While Majumdar chose to write a letter, with fora such as social media and apps providing quicker interface with the government and people’s representatives, this has become much easier. Raju and his colleagues need to reflect on Majumdar’s words seriously, and evaluate their own performance to make it better.