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MITRAS WEEKLY ESSAY CHALLENGE

May 01 to 07, 2017

 
Write an essay on the following topic in not more than 1000-1200 words:
 

The VIP cult is a bane of Indian Democracy

  • Deepak Tomar

    VIP culture is not about the VIPs of the country, it is about us, the general public who gets denied the basic rights because certain authoritative people are making the wrong use of theirs. VIP culture has proved to destroy the political scenario of the country so far. People in a car with a red beacon, people who have power, and people who don’t care about the general public, often exploit their rights to get ahead or to get their work done. Why should the public be held back and the road be blocked to let a VIP pass by? Why can’t the VIP be stuck in traffic and enjoy the woes this country has to offer to its citizens? Why should only the citizens have to put up with the bad side?
    Also, who bestowed these people with the honor of being VIPs? Why are they treated like Gods in our country? Gone are the times when the politicians used to work for the public of the country, nowadays you will see full beefed up security when a politician is visiting an area, so what does that exactly mean? We care about the politician and give him/her high security, but the general public can die under a threat? Why can the security not be at that level 24*7? Is it too costly for the state to afford? Exactly! It is too expensive for the state, but we happily provide it for the politicians and the VIPs.
    The VIP culture can be segregated into various categories for a layman. The categories could be–
    VIPs who have a vehicle with a siren and red beacon
    VIPs who are preferred over the general public in cases of a getting work done.
    VIPs who enjoy rights/facilities which have been stripped off the general public.
    The whole VIP culture is nothing but another aspect of corruption in India, when you see a VIP being treated like a king, there is a person behind the scene who has been bribed. The VIPs and the people who serve them initiate a vicious circle of corruption and the general public often has to haggle to get their way through a normal government office.
    A news channel has been running a campaign against VIP Culture, where our netas, babus and powerful people in general seek special treatment – on the road, on aircraft, in school admissions, in business deals, everywhere. Never mind if their convenience is possible only by inconveniencing the public, or delivered at huge cost to the taxpayer.
    Over just the last few days, we have seen Air India serve politicians and bureaucrats at the cost of passengers; a former DMK Deputy CM slapped someone in public; we have seen ministers and MPs make loutish and offensive statements about others, including women; MPs have been demanding 100 percent raises in pay when even profitable corporations don’t give that kind of raises to their best employees. The list can go on and on, but the question to ask is simple: is this just about the powerful, or is it about us?
    VIP cultures do not develop in a vacuum. They come from the attitudes we inculcate in our children and young adults at home and school.
    If we see the number of designated VIPs in other major countries around the world, India fares worst. Britain reportedly has a total of 84 officially designated VIPs. France boasts 109 such personages, Japan 125, Germany 142, Australia 205, the United States 252, South Korea 282, Russia 312, and our neighbor China has a total of 435 designated VIPs. The recent example of the lavish life lived by these VIPs is the Air India’s unpaid bill of Rs 750 crore for flying VIPs, VVIPs and other officials.
    The strength of the general public is something that nobody is aware of, we have seen a glimpse of it during the protests in the Nirbhaya case, but the potential is way more. So here is what the public demands in order to get rid of the VIP culture.
    Red beacons should not be allowed to anybody or everybody, there should be officials of a particular stature who could use red beacons, and anybody else using them should be fined and the beacon should be immediately removed.
    2. The VIPs should be treated like the general public, road blocks and beefed up security is causing a major havoc for the traffic and if such a thing happens, the VIP should be made to travel with the traffic.
    3. We live in a democratic country, the government is of the people, for the people, by the people. The rights of the VIPs are in non-compliance with those of the general public, the government needs to fix these first.
    4. All the citizens of the country, whether VIP or not, should come under the same rule book, which means the rules should be the same for everybody and the non-abidance should be equally punishable regardless of the position of the citizen.
    It won’t take a lot to support this cause, all it will take is the courage to stand up for what you believe in and stand up against what you feel is totally unnecessary. Ever seen a police vehicle breaking the traffic signal while everybody is standing there, behind the zebra crossing, waiting for the light to turn green? Yes, that is what we are talking about. If there are rules, they should apply to everybody, or they shouldn’t exist!
    It could be the general public, the people who are in the system to change the system, and people who are about to become VIPs who could help us fight this struggle. Let’s bring out the real meaning of equality and justice, let’s make India a little more systematic, let’s do away with the discrepancies in the law. If you are tired of the corruption and what it has done to your life, take this opportunity to fight for yourself. Because if you don’t do it, nobody will!

  • Ashish

    THE VIP CULTURE IS THE BANE OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY

    Around 3 years ago in Bangalore an IPS officer of the rank of Additional Director General was asked for his membership card by the guards posted at the Bengaluru Golf club. Not only did he refuse to show his credentials but his bodyguards, men in uniform also thrashed the guards badly. It did not end here. When the other members of the club came out in support of the actions of the guard, the club was issued various notices for violating XYZ provisions of the law.

    Recently a member of the Parliament was caught on video beating a senior staffer of the Air India black and blue for not allotting a seat to him in the front row in the aircraft. Perhaps more ironic was his refusal to even tender an apology after the incidence came into the limelight.

    These are just two among many recorded instances of the VIP culture, symbolized by the pomp and show along with the privileges enjoyed by those in positions of power and which are often abused.
    In general folklore VIP culture is often considered equivalent to the guards and vehicles a person has. But it would be naïve to equate VIP culture with the bodyguards or vehicles in one’s cavalcade. It is basically the mindset of having unquestioned control over the resources, over the lives of the people. It is more a cultural factor that just the desire for having more men and materials under one’s command. A person refusing to pay for violating traffic rules for he “knows someone” is also the manifestation of a VIP culture mindset. Like any cultural item this too was not formed in a day.

    During the medieval times kings had a number of bodyguards along with a large number of attendants and courtesans. Their number reflected the wealth and prestige of the king. This practice was imitated by the nobles and smaller feudal lords too in their respective regions. British adopted VIP culture in order to maintain a social distance from the natives so as overawe the Indians, their “subjects”
    Unfortunately the privilege mentality continues to exist even after 70 years ofindependence and the emphasis on equality of law and state for all in our constitution. Power helps to gain social patronage at the cost of transparency, meritocracy and objectivity. With Indian state being still a Mai Bap state, it has power to distribute resources which are in a crunch.

    That VIP culture symbolizes a centralization of our polity and economy is no doubt a truth. The distance between responsibility and accountability has perpetuated the current privilege culture. A Block Development Officer has to solve the problems of people in his block but his accountability lies in District Headquarters where there is seat of the District Magistrate. Similar thing can be said about other frontline staff.

    Law of the land is openly flouted in the guise of VIP privileges causing not only discomfiture and injustice to others but seeing this other people too vie for such stature prolonging the vicious cycle. People need to have connections to get their work done. This engenders corruption in various forms like nepotism, bribery etc. Injustice results in alienating a section of people away from the state who become cynical to the institutions and may finally end supporting Maoists or Insurgents. The ill-effects have become so overwhelming that we need to think seriously about curbing the growing abuse of Power and authority, the two essential ingredients of the VIP culture

    That opening up of our economy has helped to reduce the VIP culture is a known fact. For instance around two decades one has wait for months to get a new car despite having the wherewithal unlike present times when one can get the car within a few minutes and that too on credit. Narayan Murthy once said that in pre-liberalization age one needed to make 5 trips to New Delhi to buy a new computer! The shortage encouraged discretion and perhaps this discretion gave birth to a rent seeking economy.

    The advent of technology has also helped towards this endeavor. We know that technology does not differentiate between people. For instance a bank staff may give preference to a particular person but ATMs do not discriminate between people. So ATM technology has reduced this subjectivity. Digitization of services to reduce the interface between public servants and the public are a step in this direction.

    Recently Government has made amendments to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 that does away with beacon lights on the vehicles of all the dignitaries including Prime minister and cabinet ministers. Only the vehicles on emergency duty have been allowed to flash their beacon lights. These changes have been in tune with times when people have increasingly objected to the VIP culture.

    However measures like these can curb the VIP culture to an extent but they cannot address the problem by its root. If the VIP culture is to be truly abolished we need to reduce the immense discretionary power concentrated in a few hands.

    As our Prime Minister recently said that in a democracy every person is important. This underlines the need to shift from being merely a procedural democracy to a participatory democracy. For that it is essential to usher in much needed Electoral reforms and administrative reforms apart from reforming another colonial era institution, Police the most visible face of state to the public so that our public servants are made responsible to the public.

    The 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments were meant to usher in grassroots democracy, but around 2 and a half decades later these bodies continue to flounder with a few notable exceptions. There is much needed transfer of funds and functionaries for these bodies to effectively function is yet to be carried out. Decentralization in true sense needs to be carried out by giving powers to the Panchayats and Municipal bodies. It may take some time but these are the only effective ways

    The aforesaid steps are easier said than done nevertheless they are essential if we want to relegate the incidences like Bengaluru club and Air India to the pages of our History.

  • Ashish

    THE VIP CULT IS THE BANE OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY
    Around 3 years ago in Bangalore an IPS officer of the rank of Additional Director General was asked for his membership card by the guards posted at the Bengaluru Golf club. Not only did he refuse to show his credentials but his bodyguards, men in uniform also thrashed the guards badly. It did not end here. When the other members of the club came out in support of the actions of the guard, the club was issued various notices for violating XYZ provisions of the law.
    Recently a member of the Parliament was caught on video beating a senior staffer of the Air India black and blue for not allotting a seat to him in the front row in the aircraft. Perhaps more ironic was his refusal to even tender an apology after the incidence came into the limelight.
    These are just two among many recorded instances of the VIP culture, symbolized by the pomp and show along with the privileges enjoyed by those in positions of power and which are often abused.
    In general folklore VIP culture is often considered equivalent to the guards and vehicles a person has. But it would be naïve to equate VIP culture with the bodyguards or vehicles in one’s cavalcade. It is basically the mindset of having unquestioned control over the resources, over the lives of the people. It is more a cultural factor that just the desire for having more men and materials under one’s command. A person refusing to pay for violating traffic rules for he “knows someone” is also the manifestation of a VIP culture mindset. Like any cultural item this too was not formed in a day.
    During the medieval times kings had a number of bodyguards along with a large number of attendants and courtesans. Their number reflected the wealth and prestige of the king. This practice was imitated by the nobles and smaller feudal lords too in their respective regions. British adopted VIP culture in order to maintain a social distance from the natives so as overawe the Indians, their “subjects”
    Unfortunately the privilege mentality continues to exist even after 70 years ofindependence and the emphasis on equality of law and state for all in our constitution. Power helps to gain social patronage at the cost of transparency, meritocracy and objectivity. With Indian state being still a Mai Bap state, it has power to distribute resources which are in a crunch.
    That VIP culture symbolizes a centralization of our polity and economy is no doubt a truth. The distance between responsibility and accountability has perpetuated the current privilege culture. A Block Development Officer has to solve the problems of people in his block but his accountability lies in District Headquarters where there is seat of the District Magistrate. Similar thing can be said about other frontline staff.
    Law of the land is openly flouted in the guise of VIP privileges causing not only discomfiture and injustice to others but seeing this other people too vie for such stature prolonging the vicious cycle. People need to have connections to get their work done. This engenders corruption in various forms like nepotism, bribery etc. Injustice results in alienating a section of people away from the state who become cynical to the institutions and may finally end supporting Maoists or Insurgents. The ill-effects have become so overwhelming that we need to think seriously about curbing the growing abuse of Power and authority, the two essential ingredients of the VIP culture
    That opening up of our economy has helped to reduce the VIP culture is a known fact. For instance around two decades one has wait for months to get a new car despite having the wherewithal unlike present times when one can get the car within a few minutes and that too on credit. Narayan Murthy once said that in pre-liberalization age one needed to make 5 trips to New Delhi to buy a new computer! The shortage encouraged discretion and perhaps this discretion gave birth to a rent seeking economy.
    The advent of technology has also helped towards this endeavor. We know that technology does not differentiate between people. For instance a bank staff may give preference to a particular person but ATMs do not discriminate between people. So ATM technology has reduced this subjectivity. Digitization of services to reduce the interface between public servants and the public are a step in this direction.
    Recently Government has made amendments to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 that does away with beacon lights on the vehicles of all the dignitaries including Prime minister and cabinet ministers. Only the vehicles on emergency duty have been allowed to flash their beacon lights. These changes have been in tune with times when people have increasingly objected to the VIP culture.
    However measures like these can curb the VIP culture to an extent but they cannot address the problem by its root. If the VIP culture is to be truly abolished we need to reduce the immense discretionary power concentrated in a few hands.
    As our Prime Minister recently said that in a democracy every person is important. This underlines the need to shift from being merely a procedural democracy to a participatory democracy. For that it is essential to usher in much needed Electoral reforms and administrative reforms apart from reforming another colonial era institution, Police the most visible face of state to the public so that our public servants are made responsible to the public.
    The 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments were meant to usher in grassroots democracy, but around 2 and a half decades later these bodies continue to flounder with a few notable exceptions. There is much needed transfer of funds and functionaries for these bodies to effectively function is yet to be carried out. Decentralization in true sense needs to be carried out by giving powers to the Panchayats and Municipal bodies. It may take some time but these are the only effective ways
    The aforesaid steps are easier said than done nevertheless they are essential if we want to relegate the incidences like Bengaluru club and Air India to the pages of our History.