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A Malaise: VIP Culture All Over The Shop

 VIP Culture is perhaps the most contentious matter for the commoners of our country. Politicians and other high dignitaries often tend to get special privileges as per their designation. The constitution guarantees every citizen equality of opportunity and status but the VIP culture remains intact in the country.

 The Supreme Court has ruled that only high dignitaries who hold a constitution office can use the red beacons. Whether the entitlement of such symbols of authority is against the principles of equality enshrined in the constitution remains unanswered.

 Recently, this VIP culture has cost the life of a woman. Traffic hold up during the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to his native village lead to the death of a woman in the car. Vandana Mishra, aged 50 years, was the head of the Kanpur chapter of the Indian Association of Industries. She had recovered from Covid but was unwell and therefore rushed to the hospital. As per reports, undue traffic delay upon the arrival of the President contributed to her death.

 Kanpur Police Commissioner Aseem Arun personally apologized to the bereaved family for the unfortunate incident. He stated, “This is a big lesson for us in future. We pledge that our route system in future will be such that citizens are stopped for a minimal time so that such incidents do not get repeated”.

 The President felt sorry for the unfortunate incident due to a traffic hold-up for his visit. A Sub-Inspector and three Head Constables were suspended for holding up the traffic longer than the directed time.

 Even the doctors flagged the VIP Culture amid the pandemic. The Federation of All India Medical Association of doctors highlighted how the VIP culture affected the supply of staff in the hospitals.

 The Federation of All India Medical Association of doctors wrote in their letter addressed to PM Modi, raising concerns over VIP culture at several public hospitals that offered COVID testing and treatment only for politicians. According to the association, even with a separate VIP counter, several politicians called the doctors to their residence for testing and treatment. On the contrary, no proper provision was made for the doctors and the medical staff who got infected in the process. This process further reduces the hospital staff required to attend to other patients in the hospital.

 The association objected to the VIP Culture prevalent in the hospitals and urged PM Modi to take stock of the situation and take up the matter seriously.

 India houses the highest number of VIPs in the world, at a whopping 579092( as per 2018 data). Despite being overpopulated than India, China’s VIP numbers stand at just 435. Other developed countries such as the USA, France, Britain, and Japan have  VIPs less than 200.

 Be it politicians, sportspersons, celebrities, spiritual leaders, all come under the category of VIPs. Categorically VIPs are differentiated as VVIP's- Very Very Important Persons and VIPs- Very Important Persons.

 These VIPs get exemption from security Flight Bills, Foreign Travel & Vacation bills, Conveyance, Electricity bills, and Water fares, subsidized High-Quality food in Canteens & other perks. All the bills get cleared through the money of the taxpayer.

 On average, three policemen were deployed at the security of every MLA and MP. The United Nations has recommended 222 police per lakh persons. India stands at 138 police per lakh persons. Already a poor ratio of police to the citizen, deployment of heavy security personnel for VIPs is a cause to reckon.

 Offering condolences and making apologies could bring back a lost life that could have saved if the traffic not delayed for President's arrival? Doctors who are next to god, working hard amid the pandemic to save lives. Should they be left helpless for risking their own lives? What does this imply? Are we merely addressing the symptoms rather than a cure? To what extent can these be justified? Is it not disparaging the very foundations of our constitution that speak of equality in a democracy?

 These incidents are ingrained in our everyday lives. Almost all the people who have influential connections try to gain privileges to get their work done. So why only blame one faction?

It is not only the politicians who are getting all privileges but also influential persons like spiritual leaders, bureaucrats, and high-rank officials who also benefit. Many security officers get deployed in their security despite a shortage concerning the population. Gaining privilege is not wrong as long as it is for the discharge of the duty.  The unscrupulous distribution of security personnel for criminals, spiritual leaders, celebrities and, other bureaucrats is unjustified. There should be a categorization on who would come under the VIP category to check for the growing numbers and reduce monetary pressures on the exchequer.  VIPs using privileges for their personal needs amounts to the violation of equality enshrined in our constitution. Stern measures needed to check on VIPs gaining an undue advantage in the name of privileges.




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