New Delhi: The call sign 'VT' used by the Indian planes is a symbol of "British slavery" and should be replaced with a nationalist code. This is the plea made by National General Secretary of BJP's youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) Sourab Choudhary to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
In a letter to Puri, which was personally delivered by Choudhary to the minister, he contended that 'VT' stands for Viceroy Territory/Victorian Territory, which denotes India as the British territory.
"It is a code given to us in 1929 by our then rulers, the British, denoting us as the British territory. India, even after 72 years of Independence, retains the symbol of slavery 'VT'.
The use of this symbol denotes us still being the Viceroy Territory, which is not true. But even after 72 years of Independence, our government refuses to get it changed or even make an effort about it," he said in the letter.
"We request you that most countries which went through colonial servitude have got rid of their colonial signs and launched nationalist code," Choudhary, an advocate, said.
Asked about Puri's response to his petition, Choudhary told IANS that the minister assured him that he would do his best. The minister has forwarded the letter to Civil Aviation Secretary, asking him to see what best can be done, he added.
Choudhary said he had discussed this matter with BJYM President Poonam Mahajan, who agreed with him. 'VT' is not a symbol of pride but a "matter of shame, if we are still using it when our nation is free", he said.
He said, "Even our Prime Minister travels to other nations to meet the world leaders in Air India One B747-437, with a call sign VT-EVB. Is our Prime Minister a leader of a free democratic country or of a Viceroy Territory?"He said even Pakistan had their call sign changed to 'AP' after bifurcation.
Not only Pakistan, but countries like Bahamas changed the sign from 'VP-B' to 'C6', Nepal changed to '9N', Sri Lanka from 'VP-C' to '4R' and Zimbabwe from 'VP-W' to 'Z'.
He pointed out that the display of call signs is a must according to international laws governed by the UN, which specifies that every aircraft of every nation must specify the name of the country to which it belongs, using a Unique Alpha-Numeric Code'.
"The code containing five characters should have two alphabets, that is the country's code ('VT' in India's case) and the rest shows which company owns the aircraft," he added.
He said the organizations responsible for assigning of the call sign are International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
"Futile efforts were made in the past regarding the change of call sign for our nation's aircraft but all was in vain, as they responded by saying that India could not get BA (Bharat) and IN (India) as China and Italy have already taken up the 'B' and 'I', respectively," Choudhary said.
The then Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had stated that because India could not get a code of its choice, it will function with "VT' only, the BJYM leader said, adding "this is absurd, as on researching call signs for various other countries, it was found that more than one country use same primary alphabet with differing secondary alphabet."
He gave the example of Argentina, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Norway, which use the signs 'LV/LQ', 'LZ', 'LY', 'LX' and 'LN', respectively. Similarly, Haiti, Honduras, Korea and Panama use 'HH', 'HR', 'HL' and 'HP', respectively, Choudhary said.
Some countries even use single alphabets like Canada 'G', China 'B', France 'F', Germany 'G', Italy 'I', United States of America 'N' and United Kingdom 'G', he said.
"If these countries can do it, so can India and bring freedom from the feeling of slavery by rejecting the call sign provided to us by our former rulers," Choudhary emphasized.