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   One of our leading doctors... (December 23, 1991)

One of our leading doctors has been examining the 143 Indian Airlines pilors who are serously ill. He was telling me this morning: "It is an epidemic. Pilot after pilot has been struck down y a virus that medical science has not heard of yet."

"Oh, dear, what could be the cause of it!" I said.

"Till such time as we isolate the virus, it is difficult to determine," the doctor said. "But it is something to do with their profession. May be they picked it up in the cockpits of their planes."

"What are the symptoms?" I asked.

"Well, the first think that happens is that they lose their memory. They forget that they are the highest-paid employees in the country, that they are put up only at five-star hotels, and as a rule they are asked to work only two days in a week."

"Loss of memory is bad," I said. "That's serious."

"Then it is followed by inertia. They do not want to do anything, they do not want to work, all they want to do is sit by the swimming-pools of their hotels relax," the doctor said.

"That's heavy," I said. "You don't think their illness has got something to do with they may have eaten."

"Well, Indian Airlines food is bad, nobody can deny that," the doctor said. "But if thousands of passengers can survive it, I am sure the pilots also can manage."

"What about the long hours of work? Do you think the strain of that has contributed to this epidemic?" I asked.

The doctor considered it for a moment, then said: "A Bombay-Delhi flight takes one hour and 45 minutes, that is long enough. And during that time a pilot has to press a button to start the flight, turn the plane into the general direction of Delhi and put it into crusing gear, then press a button to bring it down and land in Delhi. It could turn a man into a mental wreck, but our pilots are well-trained to manage that. It has to be some mysterious ailments that is taking the toll of our pilots."

"What about the public, is it worried about this mysterious ailment?" I asked.

"The public is only interested in reaching its destination," the doctor said. "I am afraid it is not concerned whether the pilots live or die."

"What line of treatment have you recommended for the pilots to survive?" I asked.

"Well, I have suggested to the Indian Airlines that they should concede to whatever the pilots want, and they will be all right," the doctor said.

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