Tag: India

List: Airlines in India and Their Fall

fall of airlines in india

I originally wanted to write about airline livery, a mildly interesting topic that you can read up on Wikipedia now. But then Jet Airways, one of my favorite airlines in India, announced its premature death and I couldn’t control exploring the history of other airlines in India that have gone under for various specific reasons. Then Santosh Desai shared his opinions on the Jet Airways crisis last week in a TOI column, where I read mentions of defunct airlines like Damania and Archana for the first time, and I think this was called for.

Here’s a list of almost all inactive airlines in India, checked and verified a day before publishing. Most of these have been forgotten, with some names not even in my parents’ memory (the elder one was born in the 1950s) – all of which makes this a sadistically interesting exercise for me. There are a lot of reasons here why airlines went bust, mostly voluntarily to avoid further disaster, but one common factor is shortage of money due to a common reason of high fuel prices. Reminds me of a time when Germany’s Lufthansa said it is difficult to run an airline in India because of the “high cost of operations”. Jet will agree. And so will some of these four dozen and more now defunct airlines in India. But there’s a hidden reason why some of these companies embraced death. See if you can find that out.

List of Airlines in India and Why They Shut Down

This list of airline graveyard is in alphabetical order. To state the obvious, most airlines permanently stopped their services because of eventual license (Air Operator Permit aka AOP or Air Operator’s Certificate or AOC) suspension or cancellation by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) or suspension by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which is why I haven’t added that as a reason. I have focused on what led to the licence revocation.

Cargo and charter carriers are not included. Those that have been merged or acquired are also not added unless the merged or acquiring entity has ceased operations, except in some notable cases like Tata Airlines and Air Sahara. Suffixes and prefixes like “airlines” and “airways” are mostly not included to allow brevity, unless absolutely needed. You may have to scroll up and down because some of these airline names have direct connections.

  • Air Asiatic – Legal hassles involving chairman and managing director K C G Verghese who went on to write an autobiography[1]Thomas George And Ors. vs K.C.G. Verghese And Ors. on 7 June, 1994 – Indian Kanoon[2]Air Asiatic was the first airline to get a private air taxi operator license in India, circa 1989 (Review of “Wheels and Wings: An Autobiography by K.C.G. Verghese” – Anil Aggrawal, 2007)
  • Air Carnival – Unsafe and unreliable service, cash crunch
  • Air Costa – Cash crunch
  • Air Deccan – Acquired by industrialist Vijay Mallya and renamed as Simplifly Deccan, eventually converted to Kingfisher Red (see Kingfisher below)
  • Air Dravida – Cash crunch; shut down the same year it hoped to commence its operations after failing to create a fleet using aircraft from Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier
  • Air Mantra – Low seat occupancy
  • Air Pegasus – Cash crunch
  • Air Sahara – Renamed from Sahara Airlines in 2001 and then acquired by Jet and again rebranded as JetLite in 2007 which converted it from a “full-fare airline” brand to a “discount airline”[3]Sahara Airlines history – Jennifer Mangally, USA Today before merging it with JetKonnect in 2012 (see Kingfisher below)
  • Air Services of India – Merged into Indian Airlines
  • Airways (India) Limited – Income tax issues; merged into Indian Airlines
Airways India Limited 1950
The front cover of a timetable book (circa 1950) for Airways (India) Limited, probably the least known airline in India / © David Zekria[4]http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/ail1ai.htm
  • Ambica – Low seat occupancy; legal hassles
  • Archana – Heavy financial losses due to low seat occupancy and high cost of operations (with aircraft being returned to the manufacturers against pending dues)[5]https://gyaniz.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/defunct-airlines-of-india/24 April 2011
  • Bharatair (aka Bharat Airways) – Merged into Indian Airlines
  • CityLink – Cash crunch; eventually liquidated
  • Cornecon – Unknown
  • Cosmos – Unknown
  • Damania – The Aviation Ministry’s 1995 mandate that private airlines must fly to secondary routes to be eligible for major, profitable ones; acquired by Natural Energy Processing Company (NEPC) and converted into Skyline NEPC (see NEPC below)[6]According to brand strategist Harish Bijoor, Damania was the first to utilize the ministry’s permission to serve alcohol on board its flights, a welcome move allegedly jinxed by the arrival of low-cost carriers (LCC) like Kingfisher, IndiGo, and SpiceJet in the mid-2000s. (The Hindu Business Line, 23 February 2011)
  • Darbhanga – Gradual fall of the Darbhanga dynasty of Bihar further triggered by the death of its Maharaja Kameshwar Singh in 1962; DGCA cancelled its licence and one of its fleet (a VIP liner, possibly a Douglas) was taken by the Indian Air Force (IAF)[7]In December 2018, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu tweeted about the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Darbhanga Airport.
  • Deccan – Operation Polo which resulted in the annexation of the Hyderabad state from the Nizam in 1948, which, in turn, led to its changing hands from the Hyderabad government and Nizam State Railways to the Government of India; one of the eight pre-Independent domestic airlines to be merged and converted into Indian Airlines under the Air Corporations Act (see below)[8]In 1953, eight pre-Independent private airlines – Deccan, Airways (India) Limited, Bharat, Himalayan Aviation, Kalinga, Indian National Airways, Tata, and Air Services of India – were nationalized and merged and converted into Indian Airlines Corporation (IAC), which later became Air India after its domestic and international fleet joined hands until the early 1990s when the national monopoly of the skies changed[9]Deccan was the first airline of south India, bankrolled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, taking cues from the Tatas.(The plane that made India fly – Muthiah, The Hindu, 20 November 2006)
  • East-West – Murder of managing director Thakiyudeen Wahid which added fuel to its financial problems[10]East-West was known for its alleged ties with underworld mobster Dawood Ibrahim. “I gave the instructions for Wahid’s killing”, underworld don and Ibrahim’s arch nemesis Chhota Rajan said in an interview with India Today’s Special Correspondent Harinder Baweja, 31 January 1996
  • Goa Way – Unknown[11]Dutch aviation enthusiast and photographer Ruud Leeuw mentions something about a deal between Lufthansa Cityline and Goa Way Aviation falling through. (20 May 2004)[12]Goa Way was branded as “India’s holiday airline”
  • Gujarat Airways – Intense competition[13](Airlines That Went Bust – Ranju Sarkar, Business Standard (pdf)
  • Himalayan Aviation – Merged into Indian Airlines
  • Huns Air – Possible heavy competition from Pushpaka Aviation and Air India[14]“Pushpaka Aviation gives tough competition to Air-India” – Chander Uday Singh, India Today, 15 April 1981; a zero-casualty accident during landing of its major flight – a Vickers Viscount 768D – at Vijayawada Airport in Andhra Pradesh on 28 August 1980 which reportedly damaged the aircraft beyond repair[15]https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19800828-0; possible consequent financial issues
  • Indian (formerly Indian Airlines) – Merged into Air India after the formation of Air India Limited (erstwhile National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL)) in 2007; its subsidiary Air Alliance was also merged into Air India along with the latter’s Express brand, all of which are now operational[16]“Why one large airline makes economic sense” – Bhanoji Rao, The Hindu Business Line, 30 June 2005
  • Indian National Airways – (Pretty successful bout till its) nationalization and merger into Indian Airlines[17]Indian National Airways was the second private airline to start operations in India (circa 1933), albeit using a government contract, after Tata Airlines. Incidentally, Indian State Air Service was the first, operating in the Karachi-Calcutta route as early as 1929.
  • Indian Overseas (formerly Mistri Airways) – Cash crunch
  • Indian State Air Service – Unknown; possible government voluntary withdrawal
  • Indian Transcontinental – Unknown[18]During its prime, Indian Transcontinental Airways partnered with Imperial Airways (now British Airways).
  • Indus – Cash crunch; inability to obtain safety-critical Bombardier aircraft parts from General Electric’s Commercial Aviation Service (GECAS)
  • Irrawaddy Flotilla & Airways – Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942 (during World war II) forced the company’s personnel to destroy some of its own fleet (housed in Pazundaung (now in Myanmar)), the rest of which were automatically handed over to the Burmese government in 1948; supposedly the fleet owned by its Chennai division never saw a resurrection as the company went into voluntary liquidation two years later[19]Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (1865 – 1950) by the Maritime Archives & Library – The National Archives of the UK, October 2008 (pdf)
  • Jagson – License lapsed without a single regional flight operating between 2009 and 2010[20]Its charter service apparently is still operational between New Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Jamair – Cash crunch, legal issues, labor problems, increasing competition, and shrinking fleet[21]Jamair – Wikipedia (unreferenced and unverified)
  • Jet – Cash crunch; lack of trust by lenders (mainly SBI)[22]Jet’s subsidiaries JetLite and JetKonnect were discontinued in 2012 and 2014 respectively. As it happens, the former was merged into JetKonnect.
  • Jupiter – Possible competition by national carriers; lack of profitable routes
  • Kalinga – Merged into Indian Airlines
  • Kingfisher (+Kingfisher Red) – Massive financial losses and eventual cash crunch, probably a precursor to Mallya’s fraudulent activities
  • MDLR – Cash crunch due to the 2007-2008 financial crisis and a rapid rise in fuel prices; tax irregularities which resulted in convictions of several employees; failed to give lease payments to British Aerospace (BA) for its aircraft; founder Gopal Kanda was arrested for abetment of an employee’s (Geetika Sharma) suicide with charges later dropped by the Delhi High Court; eventually became a part of Emirates in 2010[23]MDLR stands for Murli Dhar Lakh Ram (Group); was known for its high number of female employees
  • Mesco – License withdrawal by DGCA probably by request in 2001; first private helicopter charter company (air taxi) in India and still active in charters and maintenance work
  • ModiLuft – Mounting tensions with its technical partner, Germany’s Lufthansa; was set to make a comeback as Royal Airways through a different owner[24](Airlines That Went Bust – Ranju Sarkar, Business Standard (pdf); its permit was eventually bought and converted into SpiceJet by entrepreneur Ajay Singh
  • NEPC – DGCA’s policy of mandatory ACAS-II/TCAS-II fitments and cash crunch; eventually the IATA suspended it and its subsidiary (Skyline NEPC) for non-payment of dues[25]NEPC Airlines, Skyline Grounded – K Giriprakash, Business Standard, 11 July 1997
  • Orient – Base transfer from Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta) to Karachi, Pakistan; requisition by the Pakistan government post Partition of India; in 1955 was merged with the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)
  • Paramount – Legal tussle with lessors of their liners manufactured by Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer; fleet grounding; multiple attempts to restart operations using Airbus and Bombardier aircraft in 2010, and then in 2013, did not materialize as lenders (SBI, again, among others) took its promoters to court (and DGCA) for pending dues and eventually seized the fleet
  • Premier (aka Easy Air) – Founder Umapathy Pinghapani’s arrest[26]Pinghapani, who promoted Premier Airways and its Easy Air brand from the United States, was arrested after he withheld the flying licence of a pilot (M Bhaskar) he had hired. (Anirban Chowdhury, The Economic Times, 4 March 2016); starting trouble; ministry’s no-objection certificate (NOC), which it gathered in 2014 expired a year later even before it could fly even a single flight
  • Pushpaka Aviation – Financial fallout with Air India, which Pushpaka was an associate of in running international flights between Mumbai and the Persian Gulf in the early 1980s; India Today reported a suspicious revocation of the contract between the parties including DGCA in late June 1983
  • RajAir (formerly Raj Airways) – Non-viability possibly due to high cost of fuel and competition[27]It began as Raj Airways in 1993 and shut down in less than a year before briefly reemerging as RajAir in 1995. (airlinehistory.co.uk, 29 July 2018)
  • Royal Star – Unknown
  • Safari – Government’s “very anti-private sector” reluctance to issue permits other than for 24-hour non-scheduled ones, as complained by founder and India’s “Air Commodore” Vijaypat Singhania; one of the first private aircraft operators in India in the 1970s[28]Action man Vijaypat – Archana Chaudhary, The Hindu Business Line, 24 July 2000[29]Safari is still known among aviation enthusiasts for its maintained fleet of three Douglas Dakotas (DC-3)
  • Sahara – Rebranded as Air Sahara; later acquired by Jet, rebranded as JetLite, and then merged with JetKonnect (see Air Sahara and Kingfisher above)
  • SGS (aka Air SGS) – Never took off despite a NOC from the ministry in 2016[30]SGS stands for Subhaash Gulaati Group
  • SpanAir – Grounded in 2014 due to safety violations both inside the cabin and on the ground; it still runs charter services
  • Svarima – Unknown
  • Tata (aka Tata Air Services) – Became a public limited company post Independence and was thus registered as Air India; while Air India International Limited catered to international flights, Air India (along with Indian Airlines) flew flights domestically as NACIL/Air India Limited; currently operating all flights under the single brand name of Air India[31]Air India is the first and the only Star Alliance member from India. (Air India to join Star Alliance – Cuckoo Paul, Air Transport World, 25 June 2014)[32]Tata now promotes Vistara as a domestic airline in India in partnership with Singapore Airlines (SIA) and AirAsia India along with AirAsia Berhad.
  • TAIP – Annexation of Goa in 1961; last of the fleet (Douglas DC-4), which escaped bombing by the Indian Armed Forces (IAF), was flown to Lisbon and never came back[33]TAIP stands for the Portuguese transliteration of Air Transport of Portuguese India
  • UBAir (UB Airlines) – Unknown or not launched[34]FDI in aviation: No flights of fancy, yet – Ashwini Phadnis, The Hindu Business Line, 25 October 2004; possible working name for United Breweries (UB) Group’s Kingfisher Airlines
  • Vayudoot – Money bleeding due to low seat occupancy; was run by the government
  • VIF – Inability to scale up with its single Dornier aircraft
  • Vijay – Unknown
  • Zoom Air – License suspension by DGCA over safety concerns in 2018; attempts to revive fell through in 2019.

That’s a interesting history of airlines in India, isn’t it?

A lot of these players entered the commercial aviation market following the Indian government’s Open Sky policy in 1992, but soon began to bite the dust due to “high cost of operations”, a reason given out by many modern, private players both inside and outside India. Really shows how many businesses aspired to fly high in the world of civil aviation in India and failed. And the small number of airlines active today (GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara, AirAsia, TruJet, and Air India (Express, Alliance)) is not that encouraging either.

The fact that Jet is trying to revive itself makes me a hopeful man this otherwise dull pre-election-day Sunday. TN.

footnotes   [ + ]

1. Thomas George And Ors. vs K.C.G. Verghese And Ors. on 7 June, 1994 – Indian Kanoon
2. Air Asiatic was the first airline to get a private air taxi operator license in India, circa 1989 (Review of “Wheels and Wings: An Autobiography by K.C.G. Verghese” – Anil Aggrawal, 2007)
3. Sahara Airlines history – Jennifer Mangally, USA Today
4. http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/ail1ai.htm
5. https://gyaniz.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/defunct-airlines-of-india/24 April 2011
6. According to brand strategist Harish Bijoor, Damania was the first to utilize the ministry’s permission to serve alcohol on board its flights, a welcome move allegedly jinxed by the arrival of low-cost carriers (LCC) like Kingfisher, IndiGo, and SpiceJet in the mid-2000s. (The Hindu Business Line, 23 February 2011)
7. In December 2018, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu tweeted about the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Darbhanga Airport.
8. In 1953, eight pre-Independent private airlines – Deccan, Airways (India) Limited, Bharat, Himalayan Aviation, Kalinga, Indian National Airways, Tata, and Air Services of India – were nationalized and merged and converted into Indian Airlines Corporation (IAC), which later became Air India after its domestic and international fleet joined hands until the early 1990s when the national monopoly of the skies changed
9. Deccan was the first airline of south India, bankrolled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, taking cues from the Tatas.(The plane that made India fly – Muthiah, The Hindu, 20 November 2006)
10. East-West was known for its alleged ties with underworld mobster Dawood Ibrahim. “I gave the instructions for Wahid’s killing”, underworld don and Ibrahim’s arch nemesis Chhota Rajan said in an interview with India Today’s Special Correspondent Harinder Baweja, 31 January 1996
11. Dutch aviation enthusiast and photographer Ruud Leeuw mentions something about a deal between Lufthansa Cityline and Goa Way Aviation falling through. (20 May 2004)
12. Goa Way was branded as “India’s holiday airline”
13, 24. (Airlines That Went Bust – Ranju Sarkar, Business Standard (pdf)
14. “Pushpaka Aviation gives tough competition to Air-India” – Chander Uday Singh, India Today, 15 April 1981
15. https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19800828-0
16. “Why one large airline makes economic sense” – Bhanoji Rao, The Hindu Business Line, 30 June 2005
17. Indian National Airways was the second private airline to start operations in India (circa 1933), albeit using a government contract, after Tata Airlines. Incidentally, Indian State Air Service was the first, operating in the Karachi-Calcutta route as early as 1929.
18. During its prime, Indian Transcontinental Airways partnered with Imperial Airways (now British Airways).
19. Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (1865 – 1950) by the Maritime Archives & Library – The National Archives of the UK, October 2008 (pdf)
20. Its charter service apparently is still operational between New Delhi and Mumbai.
21. Jamair – Wikipedia (unreferenced and unverified)
22. Jet’s subsidiaries JetLite and JetKonnect were discontinued in 2012 and 2014 respectively. As it happens, the former was merged into JetKonnect.
23. MDLR stands for Murli Dhar Lakh Ram (Group); was known for its high number of female employees
25. NEPC Airlines, Skyline Grounded – K Giriprakash, Business Standard, 11 July 1997
26. Pinghapani, who promoted Premier Airways and its Easy Air brand from the United States, was arrested after he withheld the flying licence of a pilot (M Bhaskar) he had hired. (Anirban Chowdhury, The Economic Times, 4 March 2016)
27. It began as Raj Airways in 1993 and shut down in less than a year before briefly reemerging as RajAir in 1995. (airlinehistory.co.uk, 29 July 2018)
28. Action man Vijaypat – Archana Chaudhary, The Hindu Business Line, 24 July 2000
29. Safari is still known among aviation enthusiasts for its maintained fleet of three Douglas Dakotas (DC-3)
30. SGS stands for Subhaash Gulaati Group
31. Air India is the first and the only Star Alliance member from India. (Air India to join Star Alliance – Cuckoo Paul, Air Transport World, 25 June 2014)
32. Tata now promotes Vistara as a domestic airline in India in partnership with Singapore Airlines (SIA) and AirAsia India along with AirAsia Berhad.
33. TAIP stands for the Portuguese transliteration of Air Transport of Portuguese India
34. FDI in aviation: No flights of fancy, yet – Ashwini Phadnis, The Hindu Business Line, 25 October 2004

Types of Staff at Every SBI Branch

Last day I waited for roughly 20 minutes before my turn came up at the general information kiosk at a State Bank of India branch in a Navi Mumbai ward. As was expected, the personnel at the kiosk was unable to answer my query. She said the person who was handling my case (KYC and debit card request submission) was on leave, which somehow seemed to excuse her of the duty to trace the paper trail, investigate, and resolve it. For her advantage, I do hand it to her for giving her absent colleague a quick call, in vain. All this while, another of her colleagues sitting next to her was hearing our conversation, sipping tea from a tiny paper cup, staring at the long line behind me, looking careless, unperturbed, and proud to be present there at that moment, possibly enjoying schadenfreude. This article is dedicated to people like her.

SBI branch
Just enter any SBI branch and observe these types / © Wikimedia Commons

At a time when some aviation experts are criticizing SBI for their callous attitude against the heartbreaking Jet Airways fiasco, I think it is fair for me to take a few potshots wrapped with satire at them. Most of us who have an account with the nation’s biggest public lender will relate to this almost immediately, and that is the highlight of this article. Here it goes…

Different Types of SBI Staff

A random list of the types of personnel you see at every SBI branch in the country:

  • Slacker – Got in through caste reservation. Were the first one to be pissed when their branch reduced the size of tea cups as part of regional cost-cutting. Do not have any friends. Take more than a dozen snack and loo breaks per day. Were the person who convinced their branch manager to put up a banner warning customers that they will be booked under IPC 352 and related sections if they try to manhandle a SBI employee. Were disappointed when TikTok was banned in India.
  • Idler – Usually an unpaid intern and/or a relative of an existing employee. Take up a desk at the front of the entrance and makes heavy use of the “Machine out of order”, “Counter closed”, and “Lunch time” signage. Have slightly more powers than a SBI customer. Assume the role of a clerk when the actual clerk is on leave. Boasted they will be able to get their friend a loan at half the market interest rate but are clueless how they will actually do it.
  • Ruler – Usually the branch manager, the deputy branch manager, or the business head. Left no stone unturned after the hiring process to get themselves a cabin in the branch but failed. Think they own the branch and at least 51% stakes in SBI. When their boss is on leave, behave like they own SBI. Rarely have a successful marriage. Believe that their English-speaking skill is the best among the branch staff and often show it off during corporate meets.
  • Vanity Persons – Got in through caste reservation pretty late in their life. Or as an extension of their dead spouse’s job. Usually older than the branch manager, but assume a designation 3-4 tiers below them, with the sadness about this fact very apparent on their face. Have an online MBA in people management. Have their favorite deity’s idol on their desk. A stickler for SBI’s draconian rules. Very punctual, especially about lunch and snack timings. Are usually all the 3-4 tellers in the branch.
  • Idler II – Often the security person. Obese. Have not fired a rifle since initial school training in 1991. Know more than the Idler, and sometimes, even the manager. Possess superior staring skills, even more when people of the opposite sex are around. Would be accused and convicted in a social controversy in an ideal world. Lead an antisocial life.
  • Infant – Pretty new to the banking world, and usually are appointed directly as the branch manager. Know less about banking than the branch staff’s average knowledge. Eat lunch alone in their cabin. Are an equal participant and victim of marital discord. Often keep a line of customers waiting at a general information kiosk by putting the personnel behind the desk to work on something “urgent” and as “needed by the HO before lunchtime”. Do not have any children.
  • Worker – The only people who work, and act seriously upon queried by a customer. Lead a happy family life, and are currently trying for a baby. Aspire to become a manager before retirement but don’t know that they are unlucky. Do not care about work, lunch, snack timings. Often at the receiving end of people who religiously partake in random acts of kindness. Do care about customer satisfaction. Do not get offended by articles mocking them.
  • Invisible – *that empty chair*

What more types of people have you met at an SBI office? TN.

Note: If you are an SBI employee and are reading this, do not take offense. Instead, try to change the status quo in your branch. If you still think it is wrong of me to generalize, please get in touch.

Indian Websites Take the #10YearChallenge

Flipkart.com in 2009

Although I’m a little late to the meme party of the viral #10YearChallenge, I have an interesting list to present. How some of the most popular Indian websites changed in the last 10 years. It’s fascinating to see how and what these websites have transitioned into.

Of course, this list if inspired by an article of the same type by US-based designer Arun Venkatesan. It contains universally popular sites like IMDb.com (with which I share a great bond), Amazon.com, and Facebook to name a few.

Here goes! In no particular order. And best viewed on a wide screen, possibly a desktop or a laptop.

You can directly view the images in this slideshow below or go through the entire article and read my comments.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Flipkart.com

Flipkart.com in 2009
Flipkart.com in 2009

In 2009, Flipkart, like Amazon.com in its infancy, just sold books. Who knew it would raise funds and turn into an ecommerce behemoth? The text logo as well as a strictly HTML interface look so ordinary compared to the extravagant consumerist UI that it boasts of now. (Note: Alia Bhatt appears twice on this list.)

Flipkart.com in 2019
Flipkart.com in 2019

Cricbuzz.com

Cricbuzz.com in 2009
Cricbuzz.com in 2009

Not much has changed for Cricbuzz in the last 10 years except it finally realized the power of visual media. In a way, it shows how little has changed in the world of cricket (in India), except for a few odd incidents that forcibly blur the line between the players’ professional and personal lives.

Cricbuzz.com in 2019
Cricbuzz.com in 2019

IRCTC.co.in

IRCTC.co.in in 2009
IRCTC.co.in in 2009

It is good enough for me that the IRCTC website loaded quickly both in 2019 and in 2009 through the Wayback Machine. The minimalist approach at the moment is a welcoming gesture. So is the overall confident look.

IRCTC.co.in in 2019
IRCTC.co.in in 2019

Jeevansathi.com

Jeevansathi.com in 2009
Jeevansathi.com in 2009

With an ad copy that goes “India’s most trusted site, easy to use for parents too…”, Jeevan Sathi really tried hard to market itself to parents looking mainly for brides for their sons. See the default selection back in 2009 and then compare it with the sleek, cleaner look of the website right now. Would be interesting to see how, if, and when the matchmaker mostly does away with gender specifics.

Jeevansathi.com in 2019
Jeevansathi.com in 2019

Jio.com

Jio.com in 2009
Jio.com in 2009

With Jio all I am thinking of is the fat paycheck the original owner of the domain must have received from Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

Jio.com in 2019
Jio.com in 2019

Yatra.com

Yatra.com in 2009
Yatra.com in 2009

Yatra’s website looked like it took notes from the IRCTC of 2009. And it amazes me to see that the default site loaded for the US market with an option on the top navbar for the Indian version. (Note: Wayback Machine wouldn’t give me a snapshot of the Indian website.)

Yatra.com in 2019
Yatra.com in 2019

99acres.com

99acres.com in 2009
99acres.com in 2009.

Apart from the iconic logo, 99 Acres also changed its interface. This one for good. The highlighting for ‘NRI Home’ back in 2009 is reminiscent of a period where NRI folks toiled in a foreign country (the Gulf, anyone?) to invest in real estate in India.

Justdial.com

Justdial.com in 2009
Justdial.com in 2009

Justdial is the one of the few websites on this list that did not change its logo (apart from doing away with the trademark and beta signs). But it did change its Google-like interface to move to a more visual one similar to how all the ecommerce websites that it now competes with do.

Justdial.com in 2019
Justdial.com in 2019

OnlineSBI.com

OnlineSBI.com in 2009
OnlineSBI.com in 2009

The digital boom really did some good to SBI’s Net Banking portal. In 2009, it had to list its products and services in the menu. And today? It is more about convenient banking and digital applications. No need to even talk about Yono SBI ads of which are just about everywhere on the internet.

OnlineSBI.com in 2019
OnlineSBI.com in 2019.

Rediff.com

Many people still don’t know why Rediff exists except for its email service. Both in 2009 and in 2019, its homepage hosts a list of links that will take you to anything and everything available on the internet including info about stocks. But the SEO guys handling Rediff.com will tell you that the heatmap is currently focused on the first option beside its logo that has silently changed from just ‘rediff’ to ‘rediff.com’.

Shaadi.com

It’s interesting to see how the ‘world’s largest matrimonial service’ did away with an orange sindoor from its logo and adopted a heart sign to express its focus on lasting, romantic relationships than about the conventional institution of marriage. Not much has changed except the homepage now boasts of a cleaner look, just like its competitor Jeevansathi.com and other in-vogue Indian websites.

Naukri.com

Job portal Naukri.com maintained its relevance by not changing anything from its key homepage design. From the logo to the sections – everything look reminiscent of a time when BPO jobs were all the shiz. Look how the focus shifted from streams of professions to ‘best places to work‘. Hints at how the employment-wanting public think. Today, Naukri.com is not just for people looking for jobs. It’s much more than that with all these spammy-looking links below the first visible space..

MakeMyTrip.com

In 2019, the ad-less interface is taken up by MakeMyTrip’s brand ambassador (Alia Bhatt again, here without her beau) talking about wanderlust and discount offers. Not so crazy to see how the aggregator focused on flights more than anything in 2009. And they had to put a splash screen for people to guide to the US/India website. Web technology has evidently advanced but still no change in the website’s draconian cancellation rules and ridiculous processing fees.

BookMyShow.com

In 2009, BookMyShow (BMS) was just an infant with an interface that looked like a college dropout had got it designed for $5 from Fiverr.com. No huge posters of popular films running in theaters, no flashy ads about Sunburn, no other choices than movies, sports events, plays, and parties. And they had to mention ‘it is SAFE to transact with us’ at the bottom. All hinting at how far BMS has come. It’s good to know that all the internet handling fees that we paid over the years helped.


What other websites do you think demand a feature on this list? Let me know in the comments and I will try to add them. TN.

Packers, Movers, Unpackers

Unpackers

This could be a business idea for entrepreneurs looking to disrupt the status quo in the packing and moving industry. Or it could be a service you seriously consider the next time you move houses. Whatever you think it is, all I know is that there is a lack of enterprises in Mumbai (and elsewhere in India) that provide unpacking services, also known as destination services.

Of course, there might be a few odd agencies who go out of their way to mend this gap, perhaps for an extra charge. But a quick search on Google India for the term “movers and unpackers” yields results that are relevant only for a user from the US, the UK, and Australia. Other listings – which are relevant to an Indian – are that of either classifieds or homepages of active packers and movers (Agarwal, anyone?) who have no mention of “unpacking” anywhere in the description of their offerings.

There is this website of Shivam Cargo that has been optimized for that term above but after visiting it I’m not sure if they themselves do provide such a service. Then there is Excellent Packers & Movers who seem like they do offer unpacking service in several places including Pune and Mumbai and who also still use a stock image featuring Kriti Sanon on their ‘Contact Us’ page. (The Excellent guys should take some tips from my page.) Last relevant result is from Indiamart which just redirects to several listings none of whom promote unpacking services.

And all this makes me sad.

Why Unpacking?

Diane Schmidt from The Spruce has created a pretty nice and short guide about why you might need an unpacking service. She sympathizes with house movers and tells them that it is a good idea to hire a professional unpacker if just the thought of unpacking all those boxes alone puts them in a bad mood. She also mentions the need to keep aside some extra fund for this purpose because it can get really expensive depending upon the number and type of items in your house and your packer and mover does not give you a good package deal. Even worse when you have not already Marie Kondo-ed your belongings.

From personal experience, I think the need to hire an unpacker arises from the dread of looking at and the thought of unpacking and setting items off all those unopened boxes the night after you have moved in. Considering yours is a regular household with regular items and even if you move to the new place on a Sunday and take 2-3 days off from work so that you can settle down, there will still be a feeling of terror that can only be defused by additional pairs of helping hands. It is actually better to hire an unpacker than turning your family members into enemies of each other. Or so I learned since I recently moved to my first own house.

Moreover, as far as I can tell, unpackers usually unpack with more compassion than their counterparts pack. And according to Schmidt, most agencies in the US employ professional organizers who know that books go in the shelf in the living room and expensive cutlery (that your mom has been saving for nearly a decade for that future auspicious day) in the upper cupboard in the bedroom. But I am not sure how much of that can be true in India where most packers and movers employ daily wage workers (taken in wholesale – for a lack of respectable wording – from labour markets like the APMC in Vashi, Navi Mumbai). However, as long as these fit, toiling men can help me settle down quickly as soon as I move in, I am not complaining. (Just be more gentle with my books and I’ll even tip big.)

Just Packing and Moving is Not Enough

As I stare at the unopened boxes stashed in the terrace of my own apartment here in Mumbai, I can’t stop saying more of why just packing and moving is not enough. If you want to settle down quickly and without the dread that comes along with moving houses, hiring an unpacker makes sense.

If you are in Mumbai or any other place in India, there is a high chance you may not find a professional unpacking service providers near you. So, try raising this idea with your preferred local packer and mover. They might just accept the extra responsibility for extra cash and that is all you need to move to the next phase of your new life: changing the address on your bank account, Aadhaar, driving licence, and electricity/gas connection.

Note – I was just speaking to an affluent friend of mine and looks like some people don’t even think about “petty” things like unpacking. They just have a single contractor for everything if and when they move houses – interior work, carpentry, and what-not. And talking about unpacking, they don’t even need that concept because new house means new stuff, right? Wrong, if you ask Miss Kondo. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Flickr/screwtape

List: Why Do People Honk

traffic noise in india

There’s a simple mantra that I use to avoid honking while driving. It is to assume and believe that everyone on the road at a given point of time is eager to reach their destination. No one – especially the ones in front of you – is voluntarily trying to delay their movement. It’s just that one of many external factors is influencing them at that specific point of time, be it a bratty auto-rickshaw driver or an illegally parked car or pedestrian traffic or a lost member of a bovine family (who apparently are safer in India). The mantra is basically about exercising self-control and is a trait that I think should be mandated by Regional Transport Offices (RTO) across the country as part of the tests for obtaining licence. Along with the reintroduction of and when to use indicators.

But it’s not an ideal world we live in. And self-control is not easy to master, particularly in Mumbai traffic. So, here’s a hypothetical list of reasons why I think people (in India) honk while on the road. Some of these may sound ridiculous but I assure you they are based on my own experiences ever since I got myself a driving licence in 2014.

People in India blow their vehicle’s horn while on the road because…

  • The button is right there in front of them
  • When they learned driving/riding, it was taught to them that honking has properties similar to that of nitrous oxide
  • They think the person/vehicle blocking their way is trying to settle down at that particular place on the highway/road
  • Of muscle memory
  • Telling a person to do something by irritating them almost always gets the job done unless you are in Gurugram. There, you just get shot
  • It’s a privilege
  • It is easier than exercising patience
  • The person behind is doing it too and they can’t let the chain break or else seven years of curse. Duh!
  • Everyone does it
  • They have a fancy/loud horn
  • It makes them look important/busy
  • They have nothing better to do (because the person on the other side of the phone call they are on just does not shut up)
  • The green light is just 30 seconds away
  • They think they own the road

There are more but I don’t want to extend this list because I think I have driven the point home.

One day I will invest in a startup that makes horn-less vehicles. And the day the startup becomes profitable is when I will retire this list from my website. Till then let us all exercise patience while driving and riding. TN.

PS – I recently also created two similar lists here (about seat belts in Uber cabs) and here (about helmets). Thank you.

Featured Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons