When it comes to changing the VIP culture in Assam or other parts of the country, there is at once a cynical public reaction that ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same’. When common people out on the roads in Assam come to know that the Chief Minister or any other minister is about to pass along the same road, they brace themselves to harassment and humiliation at the hands of hyper-active security personnel. As the Chief Minister’s cavalcade of more than 20 cars pass by with flashing beacons and blaring sirens, the common people cower by the roadside and dare not stir. Even ambulances carrying critically sick or injured people are made to stop. After the VIP passes by, the resulting traffic chaos takes hours to clear. Over the years, people have passively come to accept this practice as their lot, as if they are common ‘subjects’ who must make way for royalty and court ministers. But it is ucceptable in a democracy which our country is by its Constitution. Ministers and top bureaucrats defend such practices as necessary for security reasons. But one citizen’s security cannot be above the security of another. In fact, such VIPs permanently enclosed in their security cocoons, now hardly bother how unsafe our roads have become for common citizens, particularly for women. If this is the situation in Congress ruled Assam, it is not much different in BJP ruled parts of the country either. Prime Minister rendra Modi has issued strict orders against VIP culture, and avoids such practices himself. But there much dismay over flights being delayed for some Central ministers and state Chief Ministers. In one recent instance, a family of three ticket-holders were taken off their flight to make room for some minister and his aides arriving at the last minute. The Supreme Court in 2013 had questioned such practices and asked state governments to limit security covers to only a few government functiories. It is because of this VIP culture that on an average, there are three security personnel guarding one VIP while more than 700 common citizens have to do with just one policeman. Sadly, it is the common taxpayers’ money that pays for this security cover to VIPs.
food for thought