End the VIP Status symbols, Ensure Security for all

December 26th, 2008 - 3:12 pm ICT by ANI  

By Prem Prakash
New Delhi, Dec 26 (ANI): One of the reasons for huge public anger erupting like a volcano almost every week is the manner in which many politicians throw their weight to gain importance and impress upon the people.
Almost every day we read reports of some politician delaying flights or trains. Why? The common man wants to know how worthy the worthies are or have they become leeches on India’’s society.
Having had the privilege of covering as a newsman New Delhi’’s political scenario from the days of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the author is a witness to the decline in values and the kind of arrogance that the so called leaders of today display.
India’’s first Prime Minister mixed freely with the common people. Every year the Holi festival in the front lawns of Teen Murti House was great fun for one and all.
There used to be adequate security for Jawaharlal Nehru. Let’’s not forget that India’’s first Prime Minister was as much under threat, after having annoyed the world’’s leading powers like the US and the USSR by refusing to take sides during the Cold War era.
There were elements hostile to Pandit Nehru at home as well. Yet, the police then were trained to be discreet and manage the situation without causing any inconvenience to the public.
In today’’s India even at the official receptions held at the President’’s House the dignitaries sit under a shamiana expecting the guests to come there in a queue and greet them. Gone are days when Pandit Nehru, with guests like Marshal Tito and Gamal Abdel Nasser would mix with the vast crowd of invitees at the Presidents House. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi always loved to walk around the gardens admiring flowers and meeting people.
Gone also are the days when President Eisenhower was cheered by the surging crowds in Connaught Place in New Delhi. The convoy of Bulganin and Khruschev passed through milling crowd from Palam to President’’s house and was almost held up by the enthusiastic crowds in Calcutta. The police managed the security concerns well, worried like hell as they were at that moment.
Those events seem a distant dream! However in another country — the United Kingdom - even today the Queen travels around without a huge cavalcade, causing inconvenience to the public. So does the Prime Minister of that country. I have not seen any British politician making himself a nuisance to ordinary citizens during my stay in London for a while. And please don”t forget that Britain faces as much of a jehadi threat today as it earlier faced insurgents from Northern Ireland.
Indian police and security agencies managed VIP security in a discreet manner for many years after Independence. If they are not able to do so, it is not because of their inefficiency. The reason is the rise of the new class of politicians - the ”fixers” who want to make a show of their power, by displaying gun toting security personnel around them. Some of these worthies are never tired of shouting “Don”t you know who I am?”
The story does not end merely with the misuse of police and commandos, but the public nuisance that most of the so-called VIPs create today. To seek their special right of the way, no one can tell you for sure as to how many cars today have red light globes atop their roofs.
They are such a nuisance that the man in the street makes derisive remarks by saying that those displaying red lights belong to the red light district!
Rahul Gandhi has described this as “laal batti” (red beacon light) culture. Time and moment has come when this must end. You can be sure that policemen who are put on such security duties with the “paper-tiger” politicos hate their job.
Imagine a constable cooling his heels outside a school waiting for the child of the so-called VIP or the poor constable who is forced to carry bags of vegetables and groceries of the VIP “memsahib” as part of his duty to protect the ”who is who”.
If India is to survive as a democracy, it is time that these new feudal lords are brought under check. No one is going to grudge security provided to those holding constitutional positions. But even that must not cause undue inconvenience to the people.
Everyone must stand in a queue with other passengers while boarding a flight and go through normal security drills. Why have special lounges for VIPs at the airports.
The only way to end this “laal batti” culture is to order its removal altogether from all the cars including that of real VIPs.
The leaders of earlier days were known for their simplicity and accessibility. We can revert to those days and learn from their simplicity.
The present security cover smacks of a show of power. These agencies can have a close look at the manner at the way the problem is handled in the United Kingdom and some other countries.
In the final analysis it is the duty of the government to ensure the security of all citizens. If each and every citizen is secure, you can be sure of the safety of politicians too. (ANI)

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