Opinion

VIP culture still in vogue

Raghu Dayal | Updated on October 24, 2021

At his thanksgiving address following the 2019 election triumph, Prime Minister Modi vowed that the hallmark of New India will be the absence of VIP culture. Unfortunately though, the government continues to encourage and promote VIP culture.

Instructing all airlines, airport staff and security personnel to ensure Members of Parliament are received as special guests is a case in point. The MPs are whisked away from the check-in routine, allocated reserved seats in the front row, and ensconced in the lounges for rest and refreshment.

In most OECD countries, ministers and top bureaucrats carry their own bags, occasionally drive or cycle to offices, shop for groceries, take their turn for a flight, and are in no way smothered by security or personal retinues.

Be it a neta or babu, there’s an undying urge to be superior to the common folk. They chant, “all men are equal” but, in fact, want to be more equal than the others.

The Prime Minister hoped to lend a major blow to the VIP culture by banning laal-neeli batthi on vehicles of the privileged with effect from May 2017. The obvious reaction of the “VIP” beneficiaries across the political and bureaucratic spectrum shows that the country would not rid itself of the pernicious virus any sooner.

Wasn’t it bizarre that even a perceived spartan Chief Minister encouraged use of flags in lieu of red/blue beacons to flutter on State government vehicles to signal to the aam aadmi to make way for VIP/VVIPs? The UP government directed all district magistrates across the State to provide for separate lanes for MLAs, MLCs and MPs to breeze past the toll plazas.

Most of our netaas pay obeisance to Gandhiji and invoke his legacy, but few comprehend how Gandhiji derived immense moral power, awe and respect from an exemplary and austere life-style.

Gandhi Jayanti would have been propitious occasion to launch a crusade against the VIP scourge that negates all notions of an inclusive and egalitarian society.

The writer is a former Managing Director, Container Corporation of India

Published on October 24, 2021

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