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Posted at: Apr 21, 2017, 12:59 AM; last updated: Apr 21, 2017, 12:59 AM (IST)

Go beyond symbolism

VIP culture entrenched in mindset of the powerful
A red beacon atop an official vehicle is a symbol of authority that separates a VIP from a commoner. Its removal may be a beginning to end the cultivated culture of privilege and entitlement. Sincerity and commitment is lacking. When an MLA suggested scrapping the VIP culture, he was ridiculed in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Now Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan is praising Narendra Modi for doing the same. When Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad publicly justified shoe-lashing of an Air India staffer, Parliament did not disown him. He was let off with an apology. 

Law-breakers occupy privileged positions and institutions appear helpless.  A Calcutta High Court judge has been allowed for too long to mock the highest court of the country. After the suspected involvement of the Madhya Pradesh Governor in the Vyapam scam and the pending Babri Masjid conspiracy case against the Rajasthan Governor, the wisdom of granting constitutional immunity from prosecution to those holding gubernatorial office has come under scrutiny. Faced with a criminal case, Union minister Uma Bharti proudly declares that she has no regrets. This is because the BJP protects her. When the constitutional guarantee for special treatment or protection is misused, ways to stop it have to be found. No matter what the Constitution says, an average citizen is not on a par with an MLA, an MP or a minister in enjoying equality before the law.

VIPs consider it below their dignity to submit themselves to security checks. Ordinary citizens wait in queues at airports but VIPs insist on a special right to passage. Instances of legislators publicly insulting or slapping officials found wanting in acknowledging their privileged position are not uncommon. This is because those in a position to discipline the delinquents choose not to act. VIPs like to be surrounded by sycophants who make them feel important and to keep them they grant favours against the rules. The rule of law is enforced selectively, not equally. Narendra Modi and Capt Amarinder Singh have a lot more to do and rein in their arrogant colleagues before expecting clapping for the first baby step they have taken. 

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