In her article A weighty matter (July 14), Barkha Dutt seems oblivious to the fact that there is an employment contract that prescribes the weight level and that those for whom she is pleading were signatories to the contract. Why make it a feminist issue when the order applies to the male crew as well? Anyway, the judgment came from a lady judge.
Barkha Dutt's article made a lot of sense. Airlines, including the national carriers, should lay more emphasis on efficiency and not bother so much about the looks or age of the cabin crew. The passengers, especially the men, should also realise that the cabin crew is not meant to be eye-candy but to ensure efficient service. But in India, not just in the airlines but in other sectors as well, there is far too much emphasis on youthful good looks. This is a superficial and shallow approach and leads to us becoming dismissive of older people who are equally qualified and more experienced.
Barkha Dutt's experience in the national airlines is not unique. Air hostesses in Air-India and Indian Airlines have always had this attitude of taking everything for granted. They care little for the comfort of the passengers.
Barkha Dutt is correct that gender bias is rampant in airline companies in the name of modernisation. A warm sense of humour and wit is as pleasant as a pleasing appearance.
I disagree with Barkha Dutt that airhostesses are sex symbols at a subliminal level. A fit crew a desirable ideal. Some benchmarks for fitness must remain.