When their dreams failed to take off

The epaulettes on his white shirt with three golden stripes and a wing insignia on the pocket are the only things that remain of the dream that 25-year-old Anurag Mishra had once while living in Gonda, a small town in U.P., as he sits bedraggled beneath a tent near Delhi's Jantar Mantar.

Mr. Mishra is just one of the nearly 7,000 Commercial Pilot License (CPL) holders in India who find themselves unemployed or doing odd jobs after spending a fortune chasing the dream of becoming a pilot. Mr. Mishra, however, is trying to mark his protest by sitting on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, which entered its fifth day on Thursday. He was joined by score of other trained pilots who either never got a job or are out one job at present.

“I come from a very poor family and a small town but I had always dreamed of becoming a pilot one day. Despite it being beyond their means, my parents supported and even sold off our agricultural land to finance my education,” he said. With the money and an education loan from a bank, Mishra completed his training at a flying school in Baramati, Maharashtra. After clearing all examinations and earning his CPL in 2010, Mr. Mishra found himself jobless.

“Despite our training and earning a CPL, we are not considered graduates. If we were, we could have applied for other jobs,” said Captain Prashant Tuteja, who is part of the protest. He used to fly for a chartered flight company but is currently out of job.

“We have met senior officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry but are not getting any positive assurances. The government should regulate recruitment of pilots also, so that CPLs are issued in proportion to vacancies available,” he said.

Mr. Mishra said that other demands of the protesting pilots is that upper age limit for commercial flying should be reduced to 58 years so that the large pool of unemployed pilots could be absorbed in airlines. “Also, there are so many vacancies of Air Traffic Controllers with the Airports Authority of India, which can be easily filled with trained pilots,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 8:40:43 AM |

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