July 23, 2009

Miffed at being Frisked ?

July 23, 2009 Posted by Vijay , 1 comment
So Dr Abdul Kalam was frisked by Continental Airlines staff. That he was a beloved and most loved president of India is unquestionable. But what is unfathomable is the way in which this episode is being interpreted. Agreed, a person who held that high an honour in a country of billions should have been treated better. But, so what if he was frisked ?

When the 9/11 attacks happened and the London bombings took place, asians at large were subjected to racial profiling. Well, if Continental Airlines had racial profiling in mind, then that is more serious than just frisking. If I were to add an even wider angle to it, the honorary president's name rings as a muslim's name. With the paranoia surrounding the Westerners about Asians and muslims in particular, (especially those sporting long beards) it is not quite the unthinkable that the airline staff found his name itself suspicious.

Though interpretations can be widely speculated about, one can never question the measures that any security staff anywhere in the world carry out to ensure safety of all co-passengers. If frisking is a measure that everyone is subjected to (as opposed to racial profiling) then any person going by the rules has to abide by the measures.

With all due respect to Dr. Kalam, it is but a known fact that none of the VIPs or the VVIPs in our country truly follow the laws. It is a norm to expect them flouting laws for their personal benefits. It is sad though, that they have never been brought to book. When dangers from our own politicians and VVIPs lurk within, how can we stop a foreign based airliner refraining from frisking even a Kalam ? In fact, if Kalam had graciously accepted that he was following the duty as a citizen and going strictly by rules of the airline, respect for him would have only grown more. Unfortunately for him, his confession of being frisked has been interpreted as an insult to India.


Anonymous said...

If security was the primary concern why do they have the provision for exempting people from the security checks in the first place?
Would an ex- American President like Bill Clinton be forced to undergo this security check? Why is it a diplomatic privilege for them and not for an ex- President of India?
All American airlines have to follow the TSA guidelines which state the list of people and the level of security checks in US. Similarly any airline operating in India is given a set of guidelines, which includes the point that our presidents and former presidents are on the VIP list and are exempted from security checks-let alone frisking.
Do you think the American government and Americans would be supporting Indian airlines if they fail to respect American laws and legal decrees when they are in the US?
If TSA has rules applying to its airlines so does India for its finest citizens.
I am proud of Dr.Kalam to have taken the whole incident in good spirit and having displayed the aspect of tolerance. It was his humility that Kalam was cooperative and underwent the entire process without complaints.

But there is a Catch22 situation here also. In India every other MP and MLA is attributed with the VIP, VVIP statuses. I am sure it would be difficult even for the Indian Airlines to keep track of the huge list of people who have been accorded with diplomatic privileges.
Our first move should be to restrict the people who are eligible for the diplomatic rights to the elite few. That would be a first step to protect the dignity of the truly good and honorable people like Dr. Kalam.