Sanskari Air India or just better logistics?

Has Air India really turned its menu vegetarian and is the outrage necessaryBy José Luis Celada Euba via Wikimedia Commons
Flix Social Buzz Saturday, December 26, 2015 - 17:06

On Saturday morning, news reports emerged of Air India’s changes its in-flight menu, one of them being that in the Economy class of flights with the duration 60-90 minutes, vegetarian food would be served hot.

According to media reports, a circular was released on December 23 in which Captain D X Pais, General Manager of Air India stated, "It has been decided to provide only Indian vegetarian hot meals in economy class on domestic sector flights with duration between 61 and 90 minutes, from January 1, 2016."

ANI too reported this and put out a tweet on this, and it is no surprise that this generated a controversy.

Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah questioned the move

Indiatimes has an outrage-piece on it, with a headline stating that this was a new low for the airliner.

The lurking question and fear behind the outrage obviously was – is this the Modi government trying to enforce a Hindutva agenda?

Explaining the move, one of the officials told Mirror, "During take-off and touch-down, there is no scope for any service as the galley equipment has to remain fastened. In the time available for service, it is not possible for us to juggle passenger choices' of meals. As a non-vegetarian can have a vegetarian meal but not the other way round, the decision was logical."

Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, who has been open about his Hindutva-leanings, and one would assume he would not have a problem taking credit for a culture-based decision, dismissed the outrage stating that the decision has been misrepresented. Speaking to ANI, he said, “In short haul flights, that is 60-90 minute flights, we used to serve sandwiches and snacks, cakes or something, which used to be vegetarian. There was a demand from customers that there must be some hot food, so we have started hot food. In the longer duration flights, everything will remain the same, vegetarian and non vegetarian. We have only upgraded the menu, and there have been no other changes.”

A PTI report on this however quoted the circular giving out a slightly different version,

As of now, Air India serves sandwich (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) and cake on its flights, which are up to 90 minutes of duration, which will be discontinued from January 1, 2016, replaced with "all vegetarian" hot meal, an airline circular said.

But a senior official also justified the move stating, "We have, in fact, upgraded and improved the meals. So far, we were serving only sandwiches and cakes, which have now been replaced with hot meals.”

Jaskirat Singh Bawa, journalist with The Quint, dug out the older web pages of Air India which showed that for Economy class in 60-90 minute flights, the meal has always been vegetarian.

Much ado about nothing, then?

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