‘Fasten seat belts, Jai Hind!’: Airline crew told to hail India

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‘Fasten seat belts, Jai Hind!’: Airline crew told to hail India

India‘s state carrier Air India has reminded cabin crews to follow all announcements with a rousing cry of “Hail India!” as nationalistic fervour grips the nation amid the latest military standoff with Pakistan.

“With immediate effect, all are required to announce ‘Jai Hind’ at the end of every announcement after a slight pause and with much fervour,” the airline’s head of operations said in a circular on Monday.

An Air India spokesperson told the AFP news agency that the order was first issued in 2017, but that a reminder was required because new staff had joined.

It comes as India’s biggest military standoff with Pakistan in years triggers a rise in patriotism ahead of looming national election due in April and May.

India’s excitable news channels have gone into overdrive and people have been flocking to a rip-roaring film about an Indian special forces incursion into Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The film Uri’s catchphrase “how’s the josh?” – meaning “how’s the fervour?” – has been widely quoted online and offline, with even government ministers employing it at political rallies.

An Indian fighter pilot who was shot down, captured and then released by Pakistan has become a national hero, with some copying his handlebar moustache and even one baby named after him.

The latest crisis between the nuclear-armed Asian foes was sparked by a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir that left at least 40 Indian paramilitaries dead on February 14.

India launched air attacks inside Pakistan 12 days later, and an aerial dogfight between the two countries’ air forces over Kashmir broke out the next day.

Tens of thousands attended funerals and solidarity marches around India, with some setting fire to Pakistani flags. The Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) group that claimed credit for the attack is based in Pakistan.

Islamabad’s release of the pilot on last Friday eased international alarm although tensions remain high, with both sides firing shells and mortars over their de facto border in Kashmir.

Indian media reports said that a Pakistani military drone was shot down over northern India on Monday, while Islamabad said on Tuesday it prevented an Indian submarine from entering its waters.

Air India’s announcement also attracted mockery on social media in view of the stricken airline’s crippling debts.

“Much welcome but before starting this Air India should improve the service. Make the airline profitable. Keep up to schedule. Stop wasting taxpayer money. Be customer friendly,” quipped Dinesh Joshi, one Twitter user.

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