I am opposed to the importance being attached to red beacons atop official vehicles. This is nothing but tokenism. It makes no difference to the VIP mindset whether or not his vehicle carries a red light atop or not. One of the arguments advanced in favour of removing red beacons yesterday that it is a symbolic rejection of artificial distinctions between common people and the so called VIPs. Not convinced.
Tomorrow, you might even insist policemen should be without uniforms and should dress up as common people do - because in the end even their dress becomes as a symbol of authority and a distinction between them and the common people. Its all about attitude. I can't imagine a London cop misbehaving with a layman regardless of how many beacons his official car that gives you a chase carries.
I have always thought that these so-called gestures of simplicity are nothing but an attempt to confuse the masses and take their attention away from the real problems of bread and butter.
Why must the Prime Minister not travel by a bus? Why Air-force One for the US president. Well why even a White House? Why can't the US prez stay in a normal rented accommodation - just as our own Kejriwal had first claimed that he would do? Why does even a police officer have to travel by official vehicle except when he is giving robbers a chase - which sometimes he doesn't all his life?
Allowing these populist non-issues to become the focal points of governance actually detracts us from the actual issues of good governance. I don't care if the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister carries three planes instead of one while traveling from one airport to the other ( I guess he actually does) as long as his general conduct with people is as simple as that of Lal Bahadur Shastri or even Dr Manmohan Singh.
This thing about not claiming government car is also so much hog wash. Why even use a government office? Why not operate from your home? In fact, why even from your home? In a democracy, you should travel on foot or a bicycle to the homes of the aggrieved and solve their problems there.
What I really mean is that this issue of simplicity is a sham and is nothing more than a populist show-off of another kind to hoodwink people. People who are arrogant will be arrogant, beacons or no beacons, cars or no cars.
Just a point of view. No partisan issue attached here.
*(The author, a freelance journalist, has served as Advisor on National Affairs to former CM, Parkash Singh Badal. The views expressed herein are personal.)