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Updated: September 6, 2012 03:17 IST

General Liang hands over cash to IAF pilots

Vinay Kumar
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China's Defence Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie at the Iron Pillar during his visit to the Qutub Minar in New Delhi on Wednesday.
China's Defence Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie at the Iron Pillar during his visit to the Qutub Minar in New Delhi on Wednesday.

In what turned out to be an awkward situation, visiting Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie’s expression of appreciation and goodwill gesture to the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots who ferried him from Mumbai to New Delhi bordered on violation of protocol norms in India.

The visiting dignitary handed over two envelopes containing Rs. 50,000 each to the two IAF pilots who had flown him and his delegation to the capital on Monday for the delegation-level talks with Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

Two Embraer and an Avro aircraft were sent to Mumbai to ferry the delegation. These aircraft, belonging to the communication squadron of the IAF, are used for top dignitaries such as the Prime Minister and the President for travel.

As Mumbai was pounded by heavy rain, the inland travel of General Liang and his delegation was taken care of by the IAF, sources said. Usually flying during the monsoon can be a bumpy affair but the Chinese Defence Minister was pleased with the way the IAF pilots handled the flight and flew him down to the capital smoothly.

The sources said that it is a normal custom for visiting dignitaries to present mementos as a token of their appreciation for the services rendered to them and their delegation; but money is never offered. Officials, familiar with VIP flights, said that whenever Indian dignitaries use these aircraft for their travel abroad, small mementos like pens, ties and other tokens are given to the aircraft crew. They said that in some countries crews do accept money but not in India.

Not briefed on protocol

The sources said when the pilots opened the packets, they realised that these contained money. The pilots informed the IAF headquarters which in turn has written to the Ministry of Defence. The money would be deposited in the Government Treasury, the sources said. Officials were inclined to believe that the visiting Minister was probably not well briefed on the protocol and customs followed in such situations in India.

General Liang and his 23-member delegation is flying out on Thursday morning, concluding their five-day visit to India.

Rain had played spoilsport during General Liang’s visit to South Block on Tuesday for talks with Mr. Antony. The guard of honour was given to him after the talks which went on for 90 minutes.

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Why make so much fuss about this. Please let the pilots earn. I know you
guys at the Ministry are paying them paltry salaries

from:  Narayan
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 07:06 IST

How come he gets to hug the Iron Pillar when general public are
expressly forbidden to do so ?
How will it look to outsiders when we break our own rules for them and
their photo poses ?

from:  chandrasekhar
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 06:14 IST

may be honorarium for good service...............?
This money should be return politely briefing protocol in India.


from:  lokesh kumar
Posted on: Sep 6, 2012 at 11:32 IST

Why deposit in Government Treasury ? does the govt not have some self respect? that money was given for the pilots it should be separately utilized for their retirels and pensions.

from:  Kiran
Posted on: Sep 6, 2012 at 11:25 IST

it is highly appricable these two IAF pilots brought this matter into the notice of their superiors.must be that the honorable minister was not aware of the customs of spite of making it an issue the matter should be nipped in bud.

from:  Bhupendra
Posted on: Sep 6, 2012 at 10:39 IST

It is highly unbecoming of a defence minister to present money to indian,that too to the pilots of a most prestigious and wonderful sqn which carries VIPS.
Govt of india should write a sober letter to China ststing this embarassment, to prevent this to happen in future.

Posted on: Sep 6, 2012 at 06:27 IST

It seems to have been well planned as the Cash of Rs. 50,000/- was kept
ready in the envelopes to be handed over to the pilots. The Defence
Ministry should officially return the cash before the Gen. departs and
request that he could hand over any small Memento like Pen, tie pin etc.

Posted on: Sep 6, 2012 at 03:59 IST
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