Air India has been asked to alter its hiring policy so as to permit third-gender candidates to apply for jobs. The online petition demanding this facility was begun by an activist from Mumbai, Shipra Parswani, to back Shanavi Ponnuswamy, a transgender woman whose application was rejected by the carrier.
The 26-year old engineer has been trying to apply for a job with Air India since 2016. However, in spite of a Supreme Court ruling that recognises transgenders as the third gender, Ponnuswamy was told that there was no category where transgender women could be accommodated. Desperately in need of a job in order to survive, Ponnuswamy wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind requesting mercy killing as she was unable to eke out a living.
Following this incident, Parswani took up her cause and started the petition addressed to Pradeep Singh Kharola, chairman and managing director, Air India, demanding the creation of a new category of hires.
It is to be noted that the Court had directed the Government to ensure that the transgender community is provided with job and education quotas just like other minority communities.
Following Ponnuswamy’s petition, the Supreme Court had issued notices to Air India and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, but has received no response from either.
According to Bittu Karthik, an LGBT activist who has been backing Ponnuswamy, Air India’s stand on her case reflects the general treatment meted out to those from the transgender community applying for jobs, despite their high qualifications.