the temples have not been spared of this all pervading VIP
culture. The sycophants could be a bigger headache than
the VIPs themselves. For the marriage of Laloo Yadav's daughter
last year, the followers of the RJD neta invaded showrooms
and retail shops and looted cars and furniture at will.
They were aided, abetted and even protected by the Bihar
police! Such instances only serve to increase the level
of disgust and mistrust towards the so-called VIPs.
more mature democracies, public duties are discharged with
humanity and reverence without any pompous display of power.
The general public and high-ranking VIPs are judged equally
strictly. Prior to his re-election in 2002, the Mayor of
Washington DC was fined more than 1.25 crore rupees because
some volunteers forged a few thousand signatures for a petition
supporting him. His name was even removed from the ballot
and he had to contest separately as a write-in candidate.
King Harald V of Norway drives his own car and goes fishing
along with the most ordinary among his subjects. May be
our Public servants - elected or appointed - could learn
from their colleagues in many European countries who routinely
go to work by train or bus and obey the law like any other
the past few years have seen some encouraging changes even
in India. The discretionary 'VIP quota' controls over LPG
and telephone connections or two-wheeler and car bookings
have practically disappeared. For that matter, we even see
fewer cars holding up the traffic in Hyderabad, with their
flashing lights and high-pitched sirens. But clearly, we
have a long way to go.
VIP culture is only symptomatic of a more fundamental governance
malady: the increasing disconnect and inequity between the
public and the public servants. The general public views
VIPs and their ever-present followers as no better than
a bunch of freeloaders.
least that our netas and babus can do is urgently fulfill
their official obligations to restore a degree of public
trust. Unless they justify their positions of (strictly
temporary) privilege, they cannot reverse the growing disaffection
towards their entire tribe. If not, they face a real danger
of remaining VIPs, but of a lesser kind: Very Impotent Persons!
The legitimacy of the system itself is in serious question.
For a start, the concerned authorities could reimburse every
valid ticket holder who was denied entry to the AAG closing
ceremony last Saturday. I suggest it as a small step in
the right direction. An honest 'sorry' along with the 500
rupees refund would also help.
we, the people, must stand up and discipline our public
servants. Humility, integrity and diligence should be respected;
not arrogance, privilege and pomp. After all, they live
at our expense!