18 Jun

Travel of poor labourers at Delhi IGI airport


Last week while travelling to London from Delhi IGI airport I was standing in immigration queue. One of fellow passenger (likely from Bihar as per my guess from his accent) came right behind me. He was bit afraid and asked me in low voice if those (immigration) gates would get him to his flight for Dubai. I smiled and told him that it’s common passage for everyone travelling to just anywhere and explained to him about his gate by looking at his boarding pass. By this time he appeared less worried and stood silently behind me. After few mins as queue proceeded a group of 4 travellers (again of similar profile) proceeded to immigration desk and I heard multiple immigration officers screaming/shouting on them for coming to their desk without boarding pass. I even heard a loud noise “You all guys are going to return here in few days and would loose all money!” as one of immigration officer said to them. I just wondered since when did that immigration officer became career consultant! ? I noticed that person standing behind me was quite restless and was looking at my face. I told him that it’s OK and that he was already holding boarding pass and he does not need to worry.

This is pretty much same case I see every time when travelling out of Delhi IGI. I have not travelled from any other airport enough to comment about them. But in case of Delhi IGI once in a while I come across poor, uneducated/less educated or non-English speaking workers just roaming around there in complete confusion. Behavior of members from airport staff, immigration and even security guards is very rude and poor towards these people. All these people need is help in filling of immigration form and someone to explain them politely (in Hindi, Punjabi etc) on the process they need to go through. It’s just a shame that our “modern award winning” airports just fail to do that. Their social media team does mostly reaches out to me on twitter whenever I checkin on foursquare at airport but they miss out to help people who need offline help in just basic check in.

This needs to be fixed right from the top authority. Entire staff should be trained and explained with facts that not everyone is used to basic systems or just reading when travelling for first time. I often get confused when at a airport or railway outside India and everyone around is mostly very open and willing to help. They do not scream on me for asking “next-hop” for the route!  Apart from that I find a certain disrespect for labourers going to gulf countries. Why it should be?

Yes, we all have heard of stories when these people are cheated or not paid well. But that further explains how hard life they already live. Why make it more harder by putting them to go through this “exam” like condition at airport? Most of them bring foreign exchange to country while uplifting quality of their family back here in India. Instead of respecting them for their work and helping them, our system collectively works hard to make them feel low and bad about themselves. I noticed exactly same issue at Dhaka airport where when I helped one person in “filling form” I was just grouped by 5-6 more people back to back. Why can’t Govt. simply have user friendly helpdesk to help them? Also, departure form somewhat is a old and broken concept and used in very few countries like India, Bangladesh etc. If someone is crossing immigration with a passport & boarding pass, why they need to fill those details on a paper anyways?


Note: I would be presenting on “Performance of root DNS anycast in UK & Ireland” in INEX meeting on 20th in Dublin. Meet me if you are attending UK & Ireland peering forum or INEX meeting then just buzz me over and it would be great to meet. 🙂