For all those who rejoiced at the announcement that the red beacon on Government cars is a thing of the past, The Man from Madras Musings brings sad tidings. It was only in the last issue of Madras Musings that MMM had speculated on the possibility of Babudom finding some means or the other to perpetuate their importance. And, boy, have they succeeded!

The bureaucrats have gone in for provisions in the fine print, of which as we all know, they are past masters. Red beacons are still permitted on police vehicles and ambulances. Since our leaders and officials cannot be seen going around in the latter, they have taken resort to the former. By that MMM does not mean our beloved bosses are now going around in police cars. What they have done is to get a posse of these vehicles, all of them with beacons flashing, serve as outriders to their humble beacon-less vehicles. And the effect is pretty much the same. In fact it is even better because what were lone vehicles sporting a red beacon have now become entire convoys with screaming outriders.

The other day MMM was driving along somewhere in the city when his reverie was interrupted by a prolonged hooting of the horn and a series of wails as though an ambulance was trying to forge its way ahead. MMM moved his car to one side only to see a police patrol van charging forward. Several protectors of the public weal were inside and all of them to a man glared at MMM, indicating that he ought to have known better than to block their progress. Immediately behind this came one of those large SUVs that have become synonymous with our political class. Crouching inside was a well-known face, which was trying to look unconcerned with all the chaos that it was causing. Behind the SUV came another police vehicle, also flashing its beacon and wailing like a banshee. The trio then proceeded to push cars and pedestrians out of the way, jumped the traffic light ahead where a policeman saluted them for their act, and were lost to sight thereafter.

So much then for the beacon having taken away with it our VIP culture. Dear DeMo in Delhi and Extremely Precarious Seat closer home may as well screw the damned bulb back on.