In ordering that red beacon lights should be removed from the vehicles of dignitaries and Government officials with effect from May 1, the Narendra Modi Government is addressing the VIP culture on the roads of India. Save for those on emergency service such as fire service, police, army and ambulances, the Union Cabinet is effectively stating that no one has the right of way and this is a message which should go down well with all the people of the country. So come May 1 and the country will see the President of India, the Prime Minister, the Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, State Cabinet Ministers, bureaucrats and Judges of Supreme Court and High Court moving without the red beacons atop their vehicles and to many this news will come like a fresh breath of air. VIP culture has already made travelling on the roads of India all that more difficult, more so when one is living in the cities, particularly at New Delhi and the State capitals. In Manipur too, it has been the same story. In fact so endemic is the VIP culture, that people not only have to bear with the VIPs themselves, but in certain cases even with their near ones. Such a practise may have gone down in recent times, but remember there was a time when anyone closely related to any of these so called VIPs came under the impression that they too can throw their weight around on the busy roads of Imphal. It is also important for the Centre to think of ways on how to empower the local cops, the men who will be on the street managing traffic, to pull up those who will be no longer entitled to the beacon lights, come May 1.
It is not only the political VIPs and the bureaucrats that the common people in Manipur have had to bear with all these years. This is not the first time that The Sangai Express is commenting on this, but something need to be done about the mentality of the men in uniform, particularly the Army and the para-military forces, who have come under the impression that the people can be shooed away from the road when any of their high ranking official, with or without family members, has to take the road. Nothing can be more demeaning and more insulting than to be shooed away by their whistle blowing, lathi wielding man in the pilot vehicle just so that their officer coming with the siren wailing can pass through. It is also not uncommon to see many of the security personnel including the State police personnel violating the one way traffic norms with impunity, as if the road is their family heirloom. It was not so long back that police personnel in their uniform could be seen zooming around in their fancy two wheelers, with the pillion rider holding a fire arm in his hand, particularly a pistol. Just what is the message that the cops want to convey by throwing their weight around like this ? Now that the Union Cabinet has decided that VIPs and bureaucrats can no longer use red beacons atop their vehicle from May 1, it is only right that the State Government pulls up its socks and see how it can rein in the cops and Central security personnel who think they can park their vehicle anywhere they like on the busy roads of Imphal.
Source: The Sangai Express