India Demands Better-Looking Flight Attendants

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Next time you board an Air India or Indian Airlines flight, you might want to hope for a frumpy flight attendant. At least then you'll know that he or she was hired based on competence, not looks. As hard as it may be to believe, the Indian government has told the country's biggest airlines to set hiring standards that would land virtually any other carrier in front of a human-rights panel. "Being answerable to Parliament and based on the feedback we get from the market, I have suggested that presentability and physical appearance of a candidate be looked into first and academics later," Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the country's Minister of State for Civil Aviation, told The Indian Express. Rudy, who apparently doesn't realize that flight attendants do more than hand out peanuts and sell warm beer, said other airlines put their best face(s) forward so Indian carriers should also. The airlines say there is a massive logistical problem in implementing the hiring standards. More than 35,000 applications were received for 200 openings the last time Indian Airlines hired flight attendants and it just wasn't possible to have a look at each candidate. They were shortlisted based on a battery of written tests administered by the Indian Institute of Psychometry, which does this sort of selection for other Indian enterprises. Well, the minister agrees that it would be quite a chore to view each and every candidate so he's suggesting that at least one in 10 get a "physical assessment." Rudy says he's just making a suggestion and doesn't know if his edict is binding on the airlines. His critics say he should turn his attention to revitalizing and modernizing the country's air transportation system, which they claim is badly in need of a makeover.