‘Never tempted to keep the money’

Security officer Subhash Chander received an out-of-turn promotion for honesty on Monday

Updated - August 18, 2016 07:27 am IST

Published - August 18, 2016 12:00 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Honesty pays:Subhash Chander, who has been with Air India for 29 years, was promoted to the rank of an officer on Independence Day.— Photo: Special Arrangement

Honesty pays:Subhash Chander, who has been with Air India for 29 years, was promoted to the rank of an officer on Independence Day.— Photo: Special Arrangement

“Imagine misplacing Rs.50. Then imagine someone finding and returning it to you. Wouldn’t you feel happy? Seeing someone’s face light up with a happy smile is the biggest reward one can ask for,” said Subhash Chander, a security officer with national carrier Air India.

However, in the case of Mr. Chander, take the Rs.50 and multiply it by 10,000. The security officer, who has been working with Air India for 29 years, received an out-of-turn promotion on Independence Day for “exemplary honesty and professional integrity”. This is the first time that the national carrier has promoted someone for honesty.

Passengers unaware

In June, Mr. Chander found a pouch containing foreign currency worth over Rs.5 lakh while checking an aircraft that had just arrived from Hong Kong. He immediately tracked down the passengers and returned the money.

“All passengers had de-boarded and I was carrying out a routine search of the aircraft, during which all seats are checked to ensure that no one has left behind any hazardous item, when I spotted the pouch,” he said.

The pouch contained $6,056 and €1,290, worth over Rs.5 lakh.

“I immediately called a colleague to note down the details of the items found. Besides the money, there was an insurance policy inside the pouch along with a phone number. I called up the number and located one of the passengers,” Mr. Chander added.

The three passengers had already boarded a connecting flight to Mumbai and were not even aware that they had misplaced their money.

“I informed them that the pouch was with me. After due verification, I rushed to the aircraft they had boarded. They were extremely happy to get their money back.”

This is not the first time that Mr. Chander has displayed such integrity.

In 2003, he found a handbag containing nearly 1 kg of gold in a flight bound for Saudi Arabia and restored it to its owner. Another time, he found a bag containing Rs.8 lakh and tracked down its rightful owner.

The security officer, who hails from Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh and lives in a small house in Delhi’s Mahipalpur with his family, said he has never been tempted — even for a second — each time he finds misplaced money or valuables inside the flight.

“I have never even bought a cup of tea with someone else’s money, so there is no question of keeping such large amounts that belong to someone else. I have not received such values from my parents. It is just not right. Even if I keep the ill-gotten money without anyone’s knowledge, my conscience will know. And I can’t live with that,” he said.

Kin, colleagues proud

Promoted to the rank of an officer now, he said both his family and colleagues are very proud of his honesty.

While his homemaker wife and school-going son relish the praise he receives from their neighbours, his daughter, a final-year student of statistics in Delhi University, keeps him updated about the “likes” and comments that news reports about his promotion have been receiving.

“One report got 3,900 likes on Tuesday. It must have touched 5,000 by now,” he added with a smile.

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