Fight against VIP culture must go beyond tokenism!

Rohit Chandavarkar
Thursday, 11 May 2017

A lot of excitement and buzz was created as the Union Cabinet decided last week to make changes in the Motor Vehicle Act of 1989 and do away with all types of beacon lights on VIP cars all over the country. This no doubt is a welcome step in the right direction in the agenda of doing away with VIP culture in the country and the Union government must be complimented for that. However, just removing the beacon on the car will not be good enough if we really want to inculcate a sense of equality among all citizens of the country and abolishing the VIP culture.

A lot of excitement and buzz was created as the Union Cabinet decided last week to make changes in the Motor Vehicle Act of 1989 and do away with all types of beacon lights on VIP cars all over the country. This no doubt is a welcome step in the right direction in the agenda of doing away with VIP culture in the country and the Union government must be complimented for that. However, just removing the beacon on the car will not be good enough if we really want to inculcate a sense of equality among all citizens of the country and abolishing the VIP culture.

Within days of the reports of Cabinet’s decision on removal of VIP beacons, there is almost a race among some ministers and Chief Ministers in the country to publicly remove the beacon.

In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, some ministers actually converted this occasion into a photo opportunity. But the question is whether this small cosmetic change will really ensure any improvement in their habits? Are the ministers not going to move in a convoy of six to seven cars? Are they not going to keep a personal staff of 10 to 15 people who will keep running around them, holding their bags and opening car doors for them? Are they not going to continue to occupy large government-owned bungalows? Are they not going to occupy VIP and VVIP lounges at airports whenever they travel? If all this remains the way it is, what is exactly gained by merely removing one light from the roof of VIPs’ cars?

Stories have appeared in media about how some ministers in countries like Norway, Sweden and even New Zealand are seen travelling by public transport. In Norway, even the prime minister has been seen travelling in a metro. They never use VIP lounges at the airport, they never are given any special treatment at any public place. This is the level of equality among citizens, India should strive to reach.

There is no doubt that the Cabinet under Modi government has taken the right step and it must be appreciated. But the concern is that it should not remain limited just to tokenism and should be followed in letter and spirit. The expectation is that far-reaching impact of such decisions should be seen in every district of every state in India.

WILL THE POLITICOS LET OFF THE VIP CULTURE?
The question is whether this small cosmetic change will really ensure any improvement in politicians’ habits? Are the ministers not going to move in a convoy of six to seven cars? Are they not going to keep a personal staff of 10 to 15 people who will keep running around them, holding their bags and opening car doors for them? Are they not going to continue to occupy large government-owned bungalows? Are they not going to occupy VIP and VVIP lounges at airports whenever they travel? If all this remains the way it is, what is exactly gained by merely removing one light from the roof of the VIPs’ cars?

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