No VIPs – Time For An Equality Of Citizens Act

Time For Equality The chiefs of the 3 armed forces were recently exempted from security checks at airports. In the build up to this decision, you got quotes like “It is a shame that India cannot accord a small privilege for those who guard the country”. Since anything related to the forces always gets linked to patriotism and national pride, so naturally references to the same were made from all corners. Finally the government gave in and extended the privilege of exemptions from security checks. The minister added that it was “absolutely appropriate” that the people who defended the country’s borders should not go through the security check exercise. So ended the matter. The VIP list for exemptions got a little longer for another service. “No big deal. All’s well that ends well. Right?”

Not really. The basic premise for this or any VIP privilege is that a certain person’s time or pride is more important than that of ordinary citizens like you and me. This goes completely against my understanding of democracy and people’s rule. VIP privileges for a chosen few cannot be a part of a democracy. It’s understandable if a dictator is a VIP, but in democratic India, no minister, politician, military officer or even the Prime Minister can be a VIP. He is just another citizen of India chosen to lead and not to rule. Privileges to bypass the queue is just one aspect of the mammoth VIP baggage that the nation carries. In a supposed equitable society, the time and pride of my cook, driver, my boss or the Prime Minister of India should have the same value, at least on paper. There cannot be a government sanction for discrimination.

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Politicians and the government needs to catch up to 21st century presentation technology

In A New Bottle PleaseWhat’s the difference between the prime minister’s speech on 15th Aug 1947 and 15th Aug 2007? What’s the difference between the president’s and chief minister’s TV addresses in the 80s and those in 2007? The content and the speakers sure have changed, but there have been no changes in the medium of delivery. While technology and presentation mediums have improved dramatically, government and political addresses are still consistently delivered in a dry boring format. In their current form, these speeches would be watched only if the nation is going through some crisis and people are looking for direction from the leader, a la Mussharaf in a troubled Pakistan. However at other times, I wonder how many countrymen would watch for more than a few minutes….

(Cont…Click the scanned article image on the left). Published as part of my column for the Maharashtra Herald that’s published on alternate Saturdays )