Bloomsbury India, which produced “The Descent of Air India,” a book written by a former executive director of Air India that narrates the national airline’s recent turbulent history, has decided to withdraw the book and apologized to a former minister blamed by the book for the airline's downfall, local media reported Thursday.
The book, written by Jitender Bhargava, who according to the book’s page on Amazon.com, spent more than two decades with Air India, during which period he was executive director for 13 years, reportedly blames former aviation minister, Praful Patel, for being largely responsible for the company’s decline. And, Bloomsbury’s move to withdraw the book and apologize to Patel is reportedly in reaction to a criminal defamation case filed by Patel against the author and the publishing house.
“The book contains totally baseless allegations against me. When my attention was drawn to it, I immediately filed a defamation case against all the persons concerned. I exercised my legal right to defend my reputation,” Patel said, according to DNA, a local newspaper.
Satish Maneshinde, Patel’s lawyer, told the newspaper: “The company’s decision is purely an outcome of a legal settlement. There is nothing more to it,” and denied claims that other means of pressure were brought upon the publisher to force its decision.
However, according to Bhargava, there have been efforts to suppress his book in the past such as the sudden cancellation of scheduled television programs to discuss the book, DNA reported.
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Mumbai-based Air India went through a rough period in the middle of the last decade in a crowded and extremely competitive market, including an ill-planned merger with Indian Airlines, its domestic counterpart.
The state-run airline, after incurring losses for the last seven years and surviving on government support, is currently working its way back to profitability under new leadership, and one of its main strategies is to rely on new aircraft such as Boeing’s Dreamliner to save on operational and fuel costs.
According to the description of Bhargava’s book on Amazon.com, the book is a “behind-the scenes account of how submissive and indifferent chairmen, self-serving employees and union members, and a step-fatherly government, all led to Air India's downfall.”
The book was initially released in October and is currently in its second edition.
“This decision of Bloomsbury was unilateral, and without discussing with me, as an author. Their stand thus naturally came to me as a surprise,” Bhargava said in an email, according to moneylife.in, a news portal.