VIP first

A few days back, while on my way to Jammu, all vehicles were stopped by the police near PWD Dak Bungalow in Sunderbani.
VIP first
File Photo

A few days back, while on my way to Jammu, all vehicles were stopped by the police near PWD Dak Bungalow in Sunderbani. The entire traffic was jammed. No vehicle was allowed to pass on. The policemen with weapons and whistles did every possible act of misbehaviour and force to disallow any public vehicle to move an inch. The reason was quite comprehensible: a high profile politician was about to come out of a meeting inside Dak Bungalow and his caravan, comprising high-end SUVs, had to depart for Jammu. It's not only the politicians who enjoy all sorts of comfort and convenience on roads, the high profile officials of Police, Judiciary, and almost all govt departments, enjoy a luxurious life on the tax-payer's money. It's the general public,—those who work every day to make their both ends meet and those who go from pillar to post, elbowing their way in busses, trains and Sumos— who suffer from inconvenience and discomfort in all this royal show of politicians and VIPs of our society.

While common man struggles every morning to get a space to rest his foot near the door of an overloaded passenger bus or moves his car at a snail's pace amid heavy traffic jams to reach his office on time, the babus and sahab jis of our society pass by in their noisy SUVs and jeeps with loud sirens and a red flag hung through the front window of the first jeep of their caravan and a draped iron angle affixed on the vehicle. This makes them unstoppable. Nobody can dare to stop these ghosts who are always in a terrible hurry! Everybody has to make way for the caravan! If you unknowingly come in between, the policemen may shout at you and blow whistles at you in such a manner that one's blood pressure levels may reach at an all time high!

The Sahabji and Babuji culture of our society is a blemish. In this modern 21st century, a few getting higher privileges is weird. The concept of Right to Equality is thrown to winds. This show may be seen not only on the roads, but everywhere. The first man to get anything in our society is a politician or a VIP. In the year 2010 and 2012, arrangements were made by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the VIPs of India wherein huge lifetime benefits were ensured for such Babus and their entire families. Upto 2009, for the last three financial years, the ministers had been spending Rs 8 lac per day on their conveyance (Indian Express, Sep 09, 2009). Recently, in 2015, the J&K government led by Mufti passed an order to buy hundreds of luxurious SUVs and high-end Sedans for use by Legislators and Ministers at a whopping cost of Rs 30 crore (Greater Kashmir, Sep 15, 2015). It may be noted that this decision has been made at a time when the Valley is still not regaining the loss brought about by 2014 floods. On one hand, our government is paying a meagre amount ranging from a few thousands of Rupees to a couple of Lac, our Babus and Sahabjis are busy in buying themselves SUVs and Sedans. This is not the end of the story; our Ministers and Legislators get many more facilities and freebies. Free laptops, reimbursement of medical expenses, free quarters, DA of thousands of Rupees, etc, etc. These are all extra-salary benefits. Undoubtedly, the job of a politician is the best job!

In the name of security, the state exchequer is debited with an amount of Rs 120 crores every year (Hindustan Times, Dec 18, 2008). A huge number of PSOs are deployed for their security. In fact, this Security level is used as a status symbol rather than in its true sense. A fully armored and suitably modified SUV for a minister costs nearly half a crore.

Post script: On one hand PM Modi has been asking people to give up their Gas Subsidies. The point I want to make is: Can't PM Modi give up using his BMW and use an armored Safari Storm instead? Earlier PMs of India used the car of the host country while on official visits, but PM Modi makes arrangements to send his own BMW while on certain foreign trips. Our state ministers and VIPs use SUVs like Scorpio and Safari for their visits. Can't they be given a hatchback car with appropriate security arrangements like a Bullet-proof glass for their visits? They have no right to enjoy free bonanzas on the hard earned money of the people. Let's join hands to make the Babus and VIPs accountable for such an extravaganza that they have been enjoying. Let's make them answerable for their blatant use and misuse of the state exchequer. Let's pledge that whenever a common man is stopped so that a Sahabji may pass in his SUV accompanied by a caravan of jeeps, we won't remain silent. We will raise our voice against it. I strongly believe that a drop of ink may make a million think!

(The author is MBA, NET, IBPS. He is Scale I Officer in a leading PSU Bank. The views are personal.)
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