Demo from Dear Delhi (DDD) has spoken. No more red beacons, he declared, and symbolically unscrewed the one on his car, after making sure there were sufficient cameramen around. Several others down the line, including Extremely Precarious Seat, who lives in Chennai, immediately copied this act, of course to the accompaniment of photographers clicking away. It was in fact the news of the day.
DeMo moreover declared that every Indian is a VIP. If that was truly the case, The Man from Madras Musings feels the obvious choice would have been to allow every Indian to have a red beacon on his car/vehicle of choice and that includes bullocks. After all, if the Aadhar card is now a must for man and beast, why not allow everyone to have a red beacon also? But, no, rather in the manner in which he demonetised currency, DeMo decided that he had to demote all our exalted leaders and the I Am Superior officers a peg or two by taking off the beacon. The consequence has been that there is a de-motivated set of MPs, MLAs, Ministers, Bureaucrats of all ranks, Chairmen of Nationalised Banks, High Court Judges, Panchayat Board Presidents, Chairmen of District Level Cooperatives, Block Development Officers; in short everyone other than the Butcher, the Baker and the Candlestick Maker, who have to now unscrew the red beacons. And they will not even have the satisfaction of a battery of photographers capturing their act for posterity. Only DeMo had that privilege. Even EPS managed only an honourable mention and a postage stamp-sized picture in the media.
MMM, however, advises all of those who only till last week sported a red beacon on their cars to be of good cheer. That beacon may have gone but the other trappings of office remain – the letter G on the number plate to indicate that the vehicle in question cannot be expected to follow any traffic rule and can park anywhere, including the runway of the airport, is just one. Just in case the policemen on duty cannot read English, the G is now tagged on with the Tamil equivalent of A, short for ‘Arasu’ or Government. The second status symbol – tinted glasses so that the lesser mortals outside cannot see the exalted being within – though banned by law, continues to flourish. Then there is the circular metal plate just above the rear mudguard, which features the State emblem and the designation of the worthy within. MMM has often wondered as to why this metal disc is always positioned at the rear of the vehicle. It was after considerable introspection that he realised that it is ideally positioned – no traffic policeman would want to give chase to such vehicles if they had jumped signals. And, above all, there is the final and most important identifier of a Government vehicle – a rude driver, invariably with a huge moustache, who is trained to recognise just two parts of a car – the accelerator and the horn.
These elements are, after all, still allowed for our VIPs and with these in place, they just have no ground for worry. And as for those who do not have any of these but would still like to break the laws of the road with impunity, MMM is happy to dispense sage counsel, free of cost. He advises them to have a paper bearing the message ‘On Government Duty, Urgent’ pasted on the windscreen. It works like magic. Those who cannot manage a white sheet of paper and a printer can make do with a newspaper page. A scrawled message to above effect with a sketch pen can do wonders.