How long will we continue to be plagued by this…
In 1947 the autocratic rule of last Dogra scion Maharaja Hari Singh ended at a controversial note of confusion and chaos and Kashmir got liberated from tyranny. The pages of history and sufferings of our elders reveal how agonizing and terrifying autocracy was. It is more than six decades now that we assert to be in democracy. How far we have succeeded in establishing and practising democracy only time will tell? After 1947 empowerment and sense of equality in different facets of life is noticeable. However, the domineering legacy of VIP (very Important Person) could not be abolished. VIP syndrome has overcome the significance and essence of our much fought democracy.
In autocratic system very few VIPs were to be tolerated and entertained as the hierarchy was limited to Maharaja and his oligarchy coupled inside a strict regimen of protocol. With the arrival of social equality common man desired to have equality and parity at every level and in every field of life but unfortunately the structure of governance left behind by the Maharaja and his masters (British) no substantially discernible change in system of governance could be experienced for last six decades. The same ‘Sahib’ and VIP culture in every aspect of administration has robed sheen of our democracy. Within the structure of natural justice and existing constitutional provisions there is no space for VIP culture. In a genuine egalitarian setup every human being is equal—equal in all respects, with exception of provisions as envisaged in the constitution for proper governance.
Over the period of time the VIP syndrome has crept in almost all segments of our administration and social life. Many people beyond the provisions of protocol wrest preferential treatment for themselves irrespective of their status and stature. By one way or the other and without any regard for egalitarian norms they manage their VIP class leaving others in lurch. Such self-centered mindset within the administration its managers and the societal order has eroded the system of fairness and justice—democracy.
Last week while visiting the Srinagar International Airport I could experience the bitter facts of VIP syndrome in its worst form. Along with many tourists and lesser mortals like me I found myself experiencing the most distorted form of equality. Discrimination and favoritism galore! Preferential treatment to a large number of visitors who were no way covered either under the set norms of protocol or any other security or humanitarian constraint was worst form of discrimination. Every Tom, Dick and Harry was part of this preferential crowd at the cost of us—the lesser mortals and our valued guests (tourists). A humble police constables index finger worked like a laser guided probe and pointer to discriminate the VIPs and the common-man. During a long wait at one point of time I could find that the VIP channel was much crowded than the ordinary passage. It looked as if there were more VIPs in Kashmir than ordinary people. A cursory look and a humble assessment of people passing preferentially through ‘Green Channel’ gave me a shocking idea of shape, size and species of these VIPs. Most of them were ordinary people, hopefully with required connections in the security apparatus; few passenger carriers who might have greased the palm of concerned authorities were part of this VIP crowd. The long queue of tourist vehicles in regular line waiting for their turn was a shameful scene that too when very ordinary people were preferred over them without any valid reason.
VIP syndrome has taken over ever segment of our life. Healthcare, transport and every public service department is plagued with VIP menace leaving no genuine space for common people. As I said in most of the cases the VIP tag in managed and manipulated either by favor or at a price. This practice of buying favor and availing it in the guise of VIPs has belittled our more than six decade old democracy. And if this situation of exploitation, favoritism and preference goes unchecked a time will come when people will lose their faith in democracy. Before coming to such a crossroad of despair the administration should come out of deep slumber and the society should rise to the occasion and find way out to check this menace of VIP-ism and restore the faith of people in democratic system.