I had gone for a lecture to Raipur and I chose to fly with Vistara as I find them a very professional and courteous airline. The House of the Tatas is renowned for their ethical approach and gentlemanliness. The moment I entered the aircraft the pilot who is the son of an Army officer, came up and welcomed me on board "Sir, you are an old soldier", he said. I was quite touched by the gesture.
Soon after that, he instructed the cabin crew to look after the passengers and at the end of the journey, the cabin crew requested if they could take a picture with me, to which I agreed. However, I had no idea that they had posted it on Twitter or on the Vistara website saying, 'Proud to have General Bakshi' on board.
I understand that there are some Leftist magazines, who have strong anti-Army leanings. They miss no opportunity to demonize and badmouth the Armed forces. They were incensed at the honour Vistara had given to a war-veteran and so protested stridently and threatened to boycott Vistara because it had honoured an old soldier like me. Because of their comments, the airline had to delete the tweet.
I had no idea of these happenings, but a lot of my friends were perturbed as to why the airline had come under the pressure from a left-wing magazine, who are known for the virulent reportage they have been doing against the armed forces.
Some of them also contacted me and asked if I knew what was happening on Twitter. Due to which, I then checked the social media portal and was quite surprised to see how the whole episode had snowballed.
Vistara is a commercial airline, and I believe that they have to safeguard their business interests. I personally feel that they have no-fault from their side, as all they were trying to do was be nice to an old soldier. It was an excellent gesture by them to honour an army veteran and I sincerely hope that they will not stop doing so just because of a few anti-army trolls. However, I do believe that after they hit out a tweet, they should have stuck their guns. I ask, is it wrong to honour war veterans and soldiers? Anyone can make an accusation against me but they are required to do their due diligence and check whether it is a fact or not.
By deleting the tweet, maybe they did agree with the hostile comments left out the post, which did leave me a bit hurt. I understand that the airline was worried by the virulence of the reaction from those army hating journalists but then one should always do their due-diligence.
I do feel the ire as many of my friends have focussed on Vistara airlines for deleting the tweet. But the focus should have been on the Army hating trolls who simply cannot stand Army veterans being honoured. I was quite pained and surprised by the personal animosity and venom they have displayed against a soldier.
The staff of the airline was really nice, and I would still travel with them. I would just like to advise them that there are all shades of opinion, but one has to take their own judgment call. What they did was honourable and right. They honoured an old soldier and a decorated war veteran. There was no reason to resile from this principled stand. The Army haters do not represent public opinion. To the contrary, they are quite divorced from the mainstream and have no right to foist their views on others.
The ire of the people who reacted should have been directed at these anti-army trolls and not so much on Vistara for deleting the tweet.
I reiterate – Vistara has gone out of their way to be nice to old soldiers and I respect the ethics and values their parent company represents. I fervently hope that the airline will continue to stand by this noble gesture and honour all serving and retired military personnel who travel with them. They are a good airline and I will continue to patronise them for their high ethical values and sense of courtesy and service