Monday, June 24, 2024

VIP menace


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Elections are at hand and VIPs in Meghalaya have started coming off their high horses to visit the humble voter. After the elections they will storm past everyone with their blaring sirens even when a traffic jam is evident. Recently, senior Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve, petitioned the apex court about the inconvenience caused to the public due to unprecedented security drills even for undeserving individuals including people like Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. The VIP cult is a legacy of the British but Indians have only perfected the art left behind by the colonial masters. Salve has argued that the VIP culture only reinforces and perpetuates feudalism which is anachronistic and does not sit well in a democracy. Indeed the essence of democracy is that elected representatives and bureaucrats are supposed to be “public servants.” Why then should public servants be treated like royalty while the public suffers utmost inconvenience because of their movements?

Hopefully the Supreme Court will scale down the number of people who actually deserve special security cover and jettison the names of those who clamour to be under the threat of militants or use other alibis to continue to throw their weights around. Recently the Meghalaya Police launched a programme called ‘Safe and Secure Shillong.’ The Chief Minister spoke at the function. It would have proven the point many times over if the head of the government himself gave up the security entourage that is hardly needed while he travels within Shillong City. This entourage of course creates a buzz and everyone knows who is driving past. Other than that it makes no real sense especially when the roads are choc-a-bloc with traffic. There have been many good examples of senior ministers here driving their own vehicles and traveling incognito. This is the appropriate thing to do, especially in a society that does not know class or caste. No one has as yet taken a serious count of the number of policemen in Meghalaya who are on security duty and whose main task on any given day is to sit inside their vehicles with their guns (AKs) pointed at the common man and doing nothing else besides. Needless to say this is gross misuse of scarce human resource. What about the citizens and their security? Are we trying to say that the life of a Minister is worth more than that of a citizen?

It’s high time the apex court takes a considered view of this case and the paraphernalia of security is dismantled sooner than later. In cities like Delhi the entire security scenario is such that it has become obnoxious. Why don’t we take a page out of the developed world which we often ape? Not even President Obama or David Cameron the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom moves around with so much security. In fact Cameron was recently seen watching football with his son and entering the gallery like a common citizen. The Indian political class has developed a highly despicable arrogance. Somebody has to be bold enough to put a stop to this irksome display of feudalism.


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