There is a palpable lack of support for the striking pilots of Indian Airlines as far as the public is concerned. Even if one does not know the details of how much the pilots earn, we have an idea that they are paid very well, as much as we believe all graduates from the IITs and IIMs, all senior doctors and lawyers, etc, are among the highest paid in the country.
How much, in fact, do these pilots earn?
"Enquiries revealed that the average salary of an AI co-pilot is Rs 3-4 lakh per month and those of a senior captain, depending on his experience, is between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 8 lakh per month.
IA co-pilots, however, get Rs 2.25 lakh to Rs 3.25 lakh per month and a commander's average earnings are Rs 4-5 lakh a month," says India Today.
How do the pay packets of the pilots compare to other Indian wage-earners – and wage earners across the world?
BBC makes it easy to get the answers, thanks to a calculator they have created to see where you stand. All you need to do is to enter the country you live in and details of how much you earn each month, and out pops an indicator of how you fare vis-à-vis others in your own country and vis-à-vis others in the rest of the world. "It's a rough figure based on data from 72 countries, omitting some of the world's poorest nations. All figures are adjusted to reflect variations in the cost of living from one country to another," the study warns.
For the record, the average monthly Indian wage, according to the study, is pegged at $235.
Using this calculator, AI co-pilots (those earning Rs 3 to 5 lakh per month, an average of the Rs 3-4 lakh quoted in the India Today article) would receive an answer that says "Your wage is $18,172. The world average is $1,480. Your wage is 6160 percent of the India average and 1228 percent of the world average."
A senior captain in AI, earning an average of Rs 7 lakh per month, would see this:
"Your wage is $36,345. The world average is $1,480. Your wage is 12320 percent of the India average and 2456 percent of the world average."
The lowest paid AI pilot earns 6160 percent of the India average and a senior pilot 12320% of the India average.
And they call themselves "workmen" (under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, pilots are currently classified as ‘workmen’) and go on strike for more money.
No wonder they receive no sympathy.