Dinesh Divekar

Dear all,

A lot is being spoken about the unruly behaviour of the Wells Fargo employee, Shankar Mishra, in his air travel from the New York-Delhi flight of Air India. TV news channels have been airing the news continuously. There are debates on the channels on the dereliction of duty by the cabin crew. Delhi Police has issued a lookout notice to the absconding passenger and DGCA has issued a notice to Air India.

The behaviour of the passenger is not just "unruly" but despicable and it is embarrassing to mention, hence I am not mentioning it.

Amidst the public outrage, Wells Fargo sacked Shankar Mishra, who held the position of Vice President of India operations and issued a statement. The portion of the statement reads, "Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour and we find these allegations deeply disturbing."

Under the influence of alcohol, people start behaving abnormally or weirdly. However, the behaviour of Shankar Mishra surpasses all the limits of egregiousness and is indicative of abnormal behaviour even during normal circumstances. Therefore, the question arises, why did Wells Fargo, which claims to hold their employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour, not detect his unreasonable behaviour in the normal course of the duties?

Is it possible for a person of the stature of VP of India operations to demonstrate savoir-faire in regular work but after consuming alcohol cross the limits of obnoxiousness that puts a nation itself to shame?

Many times eccentric behaviour of the persons who hold the higher positions gets condoned. This is because many of them are academically strong and are the products of elite educational institutions. Their strikingly odd behaviour is considered part of their personality and juniors are expected to reconcile to the oddity. Furthermore, there is nobody to give them feedback. The top-most bosses or the board members are too obsessed with growth numbers or business expansion and they show no concern for the roughshod behaviour of the panjandrum.

There is a larger lesson to be learnt from the episode. The lesson is applicable to all types of companies whether they are minuscule in size or carry an aura of working in multiple countries. Let us accept that all humans have weaknesses and let the stellar academics or weight of their personality not overshadow their weaknesses. If the company buckles under the prominence of the person, it may have to face an embarrassing situation which Wells Fargo is facing now. Whether to prevent embarrassment or not is their call.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Management Consultancy
Workplace Assessment And Training
Chief Accountant, India


What a shocking case. I see he has now been arrested in Bangalore.

But you are right, people in high positions do seem at times to be able to get away with intolerable behaviour with no sanctions from top management other than the literal "slap on the wrist".

We had a case in Australia where a high ranking financial executive was accused of sexual harassment of a staff member. The company fined the executive, and then promoted him!! As I recall, it was said that he was too valuable to the company due to the money he made for the company. He no longer works for the organisation.


From Australia, Melbourne

It is shocking to read about the incident, more shocking to find a repetition on the Paris - Delhi flight, again with Air India. Why such a crude attempt was made to cover up the incident, why it was hushed up and the erring passenger was allowed to go scot-free, shameful indeed.
The recent experience of flying with Air India has not been in line with Tata's reputation. Wells Fargo acted when the incident came out in the open without further delay. Being MNC they are bound to answer at very many places. It remains to be seen where this would end up.

From India, Mumbai

Professionalism is one thing and elite educational institution is another thing.
Normally Business Class passengers show highest standard of ethics even in domestic flights. Leave alone International.
Here media tells he reasons that he has not slept for more than 20 hours. First thing is alcohol does not induce comfortable sleep but create more complications. It is seems even being a V.P of a reputed company, he doesn't learn how to manage his health.
It so happen to me once. It was Emirates Flight. I happen to see a person who is in Marketing section in a company who supply us goods.
I saw him at the Airport when we were seated to board flight. He was in his full suit but travel in economy with me as we both were on vacation and returning to work. I was in my normal dress and it was a night flight.
After the boarding pass were checked we were in Aerobridge Q to board the flight. When we neared the flight, suddenly the Airport staff picked his economy boarding pass exchanged it and handed him a First Class Boarding Pass.
He too was surprised and asked them they said we change your seat to First Class.
So it is all the human behavior counts a lot. Just imagine had the person changed from Economy to First class misbehave what would have been the situation.
This all require stringent laws that never find loophole to escape and dealt with seriously.
The victim has to suffer humiliation for the incident but will also face the joke they make when the culprit roam free on bail and a casual penalty.

From Saudi Arabia

"The victim has to suffer humiliation for the incident but will also face the joke they make when the culprit roam free on bail and a casual penalty."

I would imagine - or at least hope - that the victim of this egregious behaviour would be well compensated by Air India and also by Wells Fargo. However, I suspect any compensation from Wells Fargo at least, would require a very stringent NDA and a requirement to never to talk about the incident again.

From Australia, Melbourne

The funniest part of latest situation is that as the lady is aged 72 years and the accused 34 there is no case of ....etc.etc. is argued. Unfortunately there is no suitable section of law to interpret for this offence. Some time back there was an adverse judgement and whole lot of public criticized it. The convenient way for lawyers to get out of any section that suits this crime on the victim. But certainly Airlines has a duty of character and all the Airlines should be vehemently deny his Airtravel in their airlines carrier.
From Saudi Arabia
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