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Breaking the Laws: VIPs or Public?


There is something demeaning about the idea of VIPs, something inherently undemocratic. It militates against the idea of equality for the simple reason that it makes some citizens inferior to others.

By Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

India’s VIP culture forgets Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy-“Government of the People, by the People, for the People”. What is telling about the directive is the VIP mentality that has become part of the DNA of India’s ruling elite. Contrary to the famous definition of Lincoln’s democracy; India has a government of VIPs, by VIPs and for VIPs. They do what they can, the people suffer what they must. In the heyday of European empires, colonial masters ruled imperiously over conquered subjects. During the British Raj, class system fused seamlessly with India’s caste system to entrench social divisions even more rigidity. A simple google search of 15th August 1947 would show clippings of newspapers with headlines such as “British of India’s Freedom” “Nation Wakes to New Life” etc. There is no doubt that it was a historic day for this country but, was it true freedom? After independence, India proudly declared itself a “Sovereign, Democratic, Republic” and added the word “Socialist” in the Constitution. The central tenet of the four words taken together –“Sovereign, Democratic, Socialist, Republic” is the sovereignty of the people; Politicians and officials are their servants. But as in other self-described socialist and communist paradises, India’s ruling elite captured all the privileges while the disempowered populace was saddled with poverty, scarcity, and general misery.

      The more that the quality of public services (health, education, and infrastructures) decayed and institutions were degraded and corrupted, the greater was the distance between the lifestyle of the closed circle of the elite and ordinary citizens. Inevitably this morphed into the VIP culture that Indians by and large detest with a depth of contempt, anger, and resentment that is difficult for foreigners to fathom. We are told that invaders ransacked the country, exploited the natives, and discriminated against the people on the basis of color, and inflicted many atrocities on innocent people. But aren’t the majority of people being exploited even today? It was easy to identify Britishers as they were outsiders and remained outsiders. But how do we identify our own people who are working against us? Are they even our “own” people? Do they see us as fellow citizens or just a number to be exploited? When some of them sit in the Parliament/state Assemblies, do they understand the responsibility of their position or are they just interested in abusing power? Aren’t they violating the fundamental Right to Equality by getting excessive preferential treatment as VIPs? Aren’t Executive & Bureaucrat officers paid by the taxes collected from us?

      I get so amazed when I see people fighting and abusing each other or even strangers, just because they have a different opinion. But I wonder how is it that they fail to see that it hardly matters which party is in power because it is the public which bears the brunt of policies geared to suit certain vested interests. When people are fed up with one Government because of corruption, they vote for another party. But what they fail to realize is that if policies are geared to exploit the general public and poor people that could also be termed corruption. But just because it is passed as a law, it is tacitly deemed acceptable. For instance, there are practices in the Indian parliament even today which are discriminatory and despite the issue being raised by multiple channels, nothing is being done to stop it. In all the Airports of India, there are separate VIP entrance gates for so-called VIPs but for everyone else, there is a small narrow gate where they are frisked roughly and everything they bring is put under a scanner. There is nothing wrong with putting security measures in place but why is it selective and why aren’t these so-called VIPs frisked? Is it possible that those who discriminate and take advantage of the VIP culture think of their country before themselves? How is it possible? I am shocked that instead of asking the right questions, people follow such leaders blindly and fail to see that it is the rotten system that has held back the country. How would society find solutions to its problems unless it refuses to identify them in the first place? I understand that it is not only politicians and government officials who are answerable but also the general public as there is a huge chunk of the population that does not think about the country at all. When one witnesses someone spitting on the road, taking bribes, abusing others, or showing a lack of respect, it is so evident that this is the excuse that people in power use to continue the status quo by saying that these people can force and not by a civilized administration. Ultimately, we need to ask one question. Is this kind of society we want or do we actually want to develop? Till when will we go on ignoring things? This is India, that’s how it happens here, nothing can happen, nothing will change!  Till when will we keep on saying this? Aren’t Indians humans? Isn’t it our responsibility to contribute to the growth of the country? Is it too much to ask to behave respectfully and follow traffic rules, not liter, urinate or spit on the roads? Is it too much to think for yourself and not follow people blindly? When will we focus on things that matter? When will we learn to speak up and speak the truth? When will we realize that democracy means responsibility and not abusing the freedom we get? The day we become aware and responsible, maybe then we will realize that VIP culture needs to go and it should start from the top.

     There is something demeaning about the idea of VIPs, something inherently undemocratic. It militates against the idea of equality for the simple reason that it makes some citizens inferior to others. When red beacons and police protection become status differentiators and they come at the cost of the dignity of the ordinary citizen, there’s reason enough to challenge the idea and trip it apart. There can be no argument that some people deserve special treatment. However, it’s conveniently forgotten that the treatment is reserved only for the special offices they hold, not for the individuals per se. In India, just about everybody, who’s anybody is protected. The list is impressive indeed: Politicians, Ministers, bureaucrats, judges, spiritual leaders, criminals, and even the kin of the leaders. Let me point out that the problem has become an endemic and a part of our political culture. It’s an undeniable fact and each one of us has asked who framed the Covid Sops and who breaks it in Manipur? As the 12th state assembly election comes closer, the political activities are biffing up with leaders from Delhi landing in Imphal every day, breaking the rules made by the government as these people are treated as VIPs. If so, then who is to blame for breaking laws? Public or so-called VIPs? Let’s stop CHORON THERAPY to those who knelt down and touched our feet at the time of election as PM Modi said in his Mann Ki Baat about new India that we should nurture EPI (Every Person is Important) not VIPs.

(Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is Asst.Prof. JCRE Global College, Babupara, Imphal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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