A Telugu woman, seated in the emergency exit row, was allegedly forced to change her seat on an IndiGo plane as she could not speak English. The incident, two days ago on the Vijaywada-Hyderabad route (6E7297 flight), caught Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao or KTR’s attention.
The Minister has urged the airline to “start respecting local languages”.
“Dear @IndiGo6E Management, I request you to start respecting local languages & passengers who may not be well conversant in English or Hindi,” said the Minister.
Respect to local language, resistance and resentment about Hindi being imposed, without giving non-Hindi speaking people a choice about whether or not they want to learn Hindi, is an emotive and sentimental point of anger among non-Hindi speaking population, especially in the south.
“In regional routes, recruit more staff who can speak the local language like Telugu, Tamil, Kannada etc. This will be a win-win solution,” the Minister added.
Dear @IndiGo6E Management, I request you to start respecting local languages & passengers who may not be well conversant in English or Hindi
In regional routes, recruit more staff who can speak the local language like Telugu, Tamil, Kannada etc. This will be a win-win solution https://t.co/GbJGi5nl0W
— KTR (@KTRTRS) September 18, 2022
IndiGo is yet to respond to the Minister or the accusation against it.
Devasmita Chakraverty, Assistant Professor of Education at IIM Ahmedabad, who spotlighted the incident, said the woman was forced to give up her seat as the attendant called it a “security issue”.
“The woman in green originally sitting in 2A (XL seat, exit row) was forced to seat 3C because she understood only Telugu, not English/Hindi. The attendant said it’s a security issue,” said Ms Chakraverty, who also posted a picture of the woman in her new seat and called it #discrimination.
Indigo 6E 7297. Vijayawada (AP) to Hyderabad (Telangana), Sept 16-2022. The woman in green originally sitting in 2A (XL seat, exit row) was forced to seat 3C because she understood only Telugu, not English/Hindi. The attendant said it’s a security issue. #discrimination@IndiGo6Epic.twitter.com/bHa8hQj5vz
— Devasmita Chakraverty, PhD, MPH (@DevasmitaTweets) September 17, 2022
Ms Chakraverty said the flight had no instructions in Telugu.
“Flight from AP to Telangana has no instructions in Telugu, attendant said it’s a safety issue that she doesn’t understand English/Hindi. If unhappy, we (not she) should complain. No dignity, non-Hindi treated as second class citizens in their own state,” Ms Chakraverty added.
Reacting to Ms Chakraverty’s post, several people pointed out that this is not a linguistic discrimination, but part of safety protocol.
Other pointed out that given India’s large number of languages, it will be difficult for airlines to roster cabin crew who speak local languages.
“@JM_Scindia I am looking up to you to resolve this at a systemic level. As policy, safety instructions should be available in all language & used as per need, not just in English/Hindi. It’s a matter of safety, dignity, & treating everyone equally. Hope you’ll do the right thing,” Ms Chakraverty further added.
There has been no statement from the affected woman about the incident or the Union aviation minister Mr Scindia.