April 19, 2017, Editorial in Economic Times
This soon-to-be-debeaconed category will need to think of other ways to assert their importance. Looking on the bright side, more than a few could try cadging study tours abroad this summer to see how politicians and senior civil servants elsewhere manage to do with.
(Note: In democracies the basic rule is equality of all and one man one vote, not more votes for the rich and powerful. Nay more the assumption is, that the voting public are the rulers and government officials, servants of the people. Where then is room for display of red lights and announcements to give way to elected officials? Congratulations to Modi government for bringing legislation to enforce it to erase a baseless VIP culture. Of course we have to wait and see how much of it and how long it is going to take to enforce it.
In principle campaign for this practice should have been spearheaded by the spiritual leaders of all major religions, who are expected to be exemplars in daily life and conscience keepers proclaiming the moral principles underlying this practice. Here just recall the practice of Catholic leadership in India and all over the world called Red Hats and colourful glowing dresses, which none of the hoi poloi can dream of affording.
The tragic comedy is that these leaders proclaim they are the followers of Jesus who emptied himself of all sorts of external show from his birth in a cattle shed to Calvary’s top. Never did he either call himself with any honorific titles like “His Eminence, His Grace, His Lordship…” either. We have brought this to the attention these Eminences living in a fools’ paradise. But they pretend they have not heard it. At least now will they take a cue from a secular Modiji and correct the glaring contradiction in their preaching and practice which are polls apart. james kottoor, editor)
The Modi government deserves kudos for the decision to remove the most visible symbol of India’s VIP culture: the flashing red beacon atop the vehicles of the high and mighty.
By removing the provision in the central motor vehicle rules that allowed the Union and state governments to permit designated functionaries to use such markers of exalted status, the government has struck a blow for equality. The move will discomfit a tiny minority, but delight the vast majority. It is a low cost but powerful way of reiterating the present government’s stated commitment to reduce the gap between the elite and the subaltern. That makes it a politically shrewd move as well.
Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve has correctly pointed out that the Cabinet decision to do away with red beacons on top of official cars really needs only 10 minutes to implement, not 10 days. The fact that it took a decision at the very highest level and the provision of a 10-day grace period shows how attached our nation’s red beacon-wallahs are to their flashing symbol of power. It will take them more than a week to come to terms with the idea of life without red lights. Or blue, which has been reserved for emergency services.
Now, it has become that much harder to stand apart from the hoi polloi, especially when the latter number well over a billion. It will be a scary prospect, and some may need proper counselling about how to cope with their altered circumstances, having had that beacon lighting the way for most of their lives.