(Mint)
(Mint)

Air India tells crew to announce 'Jai Hind': What's behind the salutation?

  •  The word ‘Jai Hind’ was coined by Zainul Abedeen Hasan, better known as Abid Hasan
  • Among other airlines, SpiceJet crew is advised to say ‘Jai Hind’ as part of a brand-building exercise, but it’s not mandatory

“With immediate effect, all (crew members) are required to announce ‘Jai Hind’ at the end of every announcement after a slight pause and with much fervour," an Air India advisory said, aiming to capture the ‘Mood of the Nation’. As the debate on the need for such a directive rages on, Mint decodes the ‘hail the motherland’ salutation:

Who is behind the coinage of ‘Jai Hind’?

It was coined by Zainul Abedeen Hasan, better known as Abid Hasan. He grew up in Hyderabad. His mother being anti-British, Abid Hasan went to Germany for his engineering studies. Impressed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s speech, he expressed his desire to join the Indian National Army (INA) once his studies were over. Bose told him he would never be able to join if he remained caught in small things. Hearing this, Abid Hasan gave up studies and joined the INA. He was given the title of a Major and became Bose’s secretary and interpreter. Later, Abid Hasan added ‘Safrani’ as his last name. It was derived from ‘saffron’, a colour associated with Hindus.

What led to creation of the salutation?

Bose was in Berlin in Germany in 1941 to raise an army — Azad Hind Fauj — for an armed struggle against the British. His recruits comprised Indian prisoners of war captured in North Africa by Adol Hitler’s military officer Erwin Rommel. Bose knew that in India, not only were the regiments organised on the basis of ethnicities but soldiers, too, tended to gather themselves on the basis of their region and religion. Bose didn’t want this to happen and asked Abid Hasan to come up with something that was neutral on all counts. And so was born ‘Jai Hind’. Jawaharlal Nehru had ended his ‘Tryst of Destiny’ speech with ‘Jai Hind’.

Where can one find references to Jai Hind?

Noted historian Leonard Abraham Gordon has written a biography of the Bose brothers – Subhas and his elder brother Sarat. The book, ‘Brothers against the Raj’, has references to ‘Jai Hind’ by Abid Hasan. So does historian Sugato Bose’s ‘His Majesty’s Opponent’. A book, titled ‘Jai Hind: The Diary of Rebel Daughter of India with the Rani of Jhansi Regiment’, was published in 1945. Written by a certain ‘M’, a lady member of INA, the book’s foreword says, “Jai Hind is our national salutation, as Indian meets Indian…". Ramchandra Moreshwar Karkare, a follower of Bose, wrote in 1947 a patriotic play — a musical drama ‘Jai Hind’ — in appreciation of Indian freedom fighters.

Were there other choices before Bose that he could have chosen?

‘Namaste’, ‘Hello’, ‘Ram Ram’, ‘Sat Sri Akal’ and ‘Salaam Alaikum’ were all in vogue then, depending upon the religion of the soldiers. But Bose wanted a community-neutral salutation. ‘Jai Hind’ seemed like the only common greeting that would bind everybody and he thus chose this.

Who sets rules on flight announcements and are there any foreign airlines using similar expressions?

In India, the regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, issues ‘advisories’ on in-flight announcements, which may also be mandatory at times depending on their nature. Among local airlines, SpiceJet crew is advised to say ‘Jai Hind’ by its management as part of a brand-building exercise, but it’s not mandatory. According to industry officials, Maldivia’s airline Maldivian and some airlines from West Asia, including Etihad and Qatar Airways, take off only after their crew has said a few lines from their religious texts.  

Close