Monday, September 11, 2006

All snark aside...

... this story on Santraj, a ragpicker involved with the Delhi NGO Chintan, just broke my heart.

The deets: Santraj was selected by Chintan to attend a conference on waste management that was being held in Brazil. He got all his papers together -- no small feat -- and the NGO got him a plane ticket. Unfortunately, they were so good as to procure him a business-class ticket.

When he got to the airport to catch his Alitalia flight, though, the carrier's officials wouldn't let him board the plane because he "didn't fit the profile of an international traveler" -- his English is poor, and, well, he is a ragpicker, after all.

It's just...disgusting. Sickening. Heartbreaking. Now Chintan is threatening to sue Alitalia for its blatantly bad behavior, and has four demands:
  1. Make public the airline's legal code of who can and who cannot fly
  2. Give Santraj a written apology
  3. Train its staff to handle diverse clients with respect
  4. Compensate Santraj monetarily
I'm glad that someone is speaking up for the man, but I can't help but think that...no matter how many apologies are issued, no matter how much money Santraj is given, this will stay with him for the rest of his life. You're born into an unfair world, you raise yourself up by dedicating yourself to a profession that your countrypeople make no bones about sneering at, you do something that deserves respect and admiration, and what do you get? Someone telling you that no matter how hard you work, it's not good enough.

Perhaps I'm being too dramatic; this incident may be no worse than a million other little hurts of life. I only hope that the man is genuinely compensated by something more important than money -- sincere remorse on the part of the airline's personnel at having treated another human being so abominably.

1 comment:

Amodini said...

This is like the DPS case where the school refused admission to a qualified student, because she didn't fit the upper-class profile (English not good, not affluent etc.)
When I lived in India these incidents didn't bother me as much (you are inured somehow), but now when I go back home, the way people become non-persons just because of their financial status etc. grates on me.