The right choice

The recent controversy about relocating the Aero India Show from Bengaluru to Lucknow brought back memories of the aero show held in February 2015. Organised by the Ministry of Defence, Aero India is a biennial air show and aviation exhibition held in Bengaluru, at the Yelahanka Air Force Station. What started off in 1996, has in recent years emerged as one of the world’s most important and largest military aviation exhibitions.

The main attraction of the 10th edition, held in 2015, was the “Make in India” campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had personally come down from Delhi to inaugurate the show. About 72 different aircraft, including HAL’s pride, the Tejas aircraft, were being displayed, while a flypast along with air display teams from overseas were the main attractions of the show.

As a prominent Bengaluru-based defence public sector undertaking, we were expected to occupy a large stall in the exhibition grounds to showcase our capabilities and to demonstrate our equipment. We had accordingly laid out all our products and displayed the extent of our services to the Indian armed forces.

The flypast and the outdoor ceremony of the Aero Show inaugural function completed, the prime minister and other dignitaries moved next towards the exhibition hangars that housed the Aero India exhibition. Our company took great pride in having a mini inaugural ceremony of our stall. The choice of the VIP to perform this ritual was perforce a “spur of the moment decision,” when the senior-most available dignitary among the air show invitees would be requested to do the honours.

With the prime minister most in demand, we saw our then chief minister Siddaramaiah hovering around the stalls with very little to do. What better than to have him inaugurate our stall? In fact, it would be a scoop of sorts — a distinguished guest with time on his hands! We went up to him and presto, he agreed.

We now had only to shepherd him to our stall and march him to the sedately tied up ribbon at the entrance. We were in the process of doing so when we saw a commotion nearby — it was Prime Minister Modi and his troupe of officials, moving towards the exit, on the very pathway that would lead him via our stall.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah looked at us and hesitated, certain that no company would want to miss the opportunity of having the prime minister of India do the inaugural honours. Only, our choice had been made already. In my most chaste Kannada, I told him that for a Bengaluru-based defence public sector company, the privilege inaugurating our stall was that of Karnataka’s chief minister only.

Here’s to a gracious chief minister who went on to cut the ribbon with great aplomb making us all feel so good about ourselves that February morning.

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The right choice

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