Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The union cabinet issued a notification banning the use of beacon lights on all vehicles with exceptions of President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Lok Sabha Speaker. Thus this ban applies to Union ministers, chief ministers, state cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and judges of the High Court and Supreme Court.
It is a welcome decision and a major step towards the elimination of VIP culture. Over the last seven decades, the system was degenerated so much that there are 5.7 lakhs estimated beacons which highlight the VIP status currently. It is not just red beacons but various categories like red and orange, revolving lights, fixed lights. So there is whole hierarchy of privilege and protocol created through these beacons.
Implementation the key
Even in 2013, a Supreme Court bench had asked the central and state government as to how they plan to remove the VIP culture. It had also directed States to amend the Motor Vehicle Rules to restrict the use of the red beacon and impose an exemplary fine on those who mis-used it.
More than 80000 VIPs are given escort by central and state governments. So the challenge is how to stop the security of such personnel from flashing their sirens.
The privileges given to MPs, MLAs, judges at various places cause a lot of trouble for public. Even these places like toll plazas and airports have list of exempted people. Thus, implementation of the state diktats is the key to reverse the VIP culture into an egalitarian one. There has to be vigorous monitoring to first implement this decision and then go beyond the banning of red beacon except for emergency and relief services.
Security of exempted individuals holding high constitutional post is important for their security as they represent the nation and its decision making. However, the security imperative is understandable but the protocol imperative is not justifiable. Many union ministers have large escorts which is unnecessary wastage of resources-time, human and financial. Having an entire force for VIP security of different levels has created lot of problems for a long time.
Motivation is around
The President expressed his wish to not be called with various titles and the PM expressed himself as Pradhan Sevak. This kind of individual initiatives back by firm institutional framework will be helpful to end VIP culture.
India as a nation has always worshipped the rulers. As the authority, there is lot of respect given, mostly out of fear of punishment or rebuttal. Hence, there shouldn’t be a cosmetic change but there should be complete rejection of VVIP culture from national capital to district HQs to Panchayats. The removal of beacons is a huge democratic decision. Though the implementation will take time but there needs to be awareness for the same. If a beacon is put on vehicle without permission, it should be penalized. Security shouldn’t become status symbol but should be need based. The VIP culture will take time to go away from mindset but an initiation has been made which was required for a long time.
Connecting the dots:
What do you understand by VIP culture? How has it affected Indian economy and society? Critically analyse.