Why VIPs are bigger than even Lord Ram

Be it the lal batti syndrome or special favours, the so called privileged lot have forever managed to get their way.

 |  4-minute read |   17-06-2015
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It was recently while driving from Bangalore to Chennai, that at a toll booth, we had to wait for close to 30 minutes. The impatient serpentine queue was later to find out, that the delay was because one of the vehicles refused to pay the toll fee, which was just Rs 75 claiming that the travellers were relatives of some Tamil Nadu MLA.

The lengths these people went for getting a small fee waived, was appalling and that too because they are related to some neta.

Privilege in this country has always been misused and the common man has been the one at the receiving end, inevitably; be it the lal batti syndrome or the VIP culture, the so called privileged lot has forever managed to get their way.

From temples to toll booths, the list of privileges met out to these so called public servants is one that needs a review. What is that makes them more superior than the public they are chosen to serve.

We all know of innumerable cases where people in medical emergencies have lost their lives, or the common man has missed important events, exams, flights, trains, et al because of the special treatment met out to VIPs on our city roads. The list is long and frustrating, from admissions in schools and colleges to job vacancies, a VIP’s ward gets special preferences.

Such special treatment is not just limited to regular amenities but even the most basic necessities.

Sometime back it was observed that in the city of Hyderabad, while the VIPs got uninterrupted water supply in their houses 24/7, the common man had to suffice with limited water, once in many days. The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board supplies around 60,000 litres of pure and safe drinking water everyday to Raj Bhavan. Other than Raj Bhavan, two important government guest houses, Dilkusha and Lake View, where VIPs frequent, also get uninterrupted water supply. At the same time, nearby Anandnagar which had 1,500 connections and a population of 5,000, people gets water supply for 45 minutes on alternate days.

Frustrating, considering the common man pays for the privileges enjoyed by these VIPs, while he has to struggle for his survival.

Places of worship are no different. One would like to believe at least in the house of God every human would be treated equally, but even here the VIPs and people known to them always manage to get assured darshan and more time as compared to a common devotee. The commoner has to stand in queue for hours and hustle around the huge mass to get a glimpse of his God, while the VIP gets to jump the queue and ample me time with the almighty.

Last year, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams that manages the Sri Venkateshwara temples issued 8,824 VIP passes On Vaikunta Ekadasi day. The extraordinary rush of the VIPs ensured that that thousands of common pilgrims were denied darshan that day and could get it only the following day. The story is no different in most of these well known places of Worship, whether it is at Vaishno Devi or at Sai Baba temple in Shirdi. Places where I have managed to get an exclusive darshan because of my VIP press card.

Coming back to the toll free drive for VIPs on our Indian roads, as per the National Highways Authority of India’s fee rules, there are 25 categories of people who are exempted from paying the toll fee, which includes, the President of India, the prime minister, chief ministers, MPs, MLAs, judges, et al - people in high offices, but definitely not their distant relatives. But then like most things in this country, dropping VIP names is expected to work, be it at a toll booth or at a job interview. No wonder the aspiration to join the elite VIP class has always been so predominant in the Indian psyche. From the local neta to the elected representative, every one weighs their importance in the privileges they can derive from their holy names.

Feudalism in India may have been banned decades ago, but the system seems to exist and flourish among the people with power in this country. Certain offices deserve special treatment, but here, more than the office it is about the individual. The individual and anyone who knows him, considers it their prerogative to use the power of the office to get their way.

In reality, VIP culture is very undemocratic, it denies the citizens of this country their constitutional right to equality. And what is even more saddening is that the people who pay for these privileges are made to pay again in the name of rules and regulations. Until when, is a question we need to ask our VIPs and those who suck up to them?


Merlin Francis Merlin Francis @merlron

Journalist turned PR/online marketing professional turned entrepreneur.

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