Laal Batti Gul

Anshu Koul

The recent decision taken by central Government to revoke the ancient motor act which allowed high ranking officials and politicians in the Government to use red beacon atop their vehicles appears to be a watershed change in Indian democracy.  The red beacon used to be apple of many a eyes and sore to many.  It was assumed to be a symbol of authority and power rather it should have been a symbol of responsibility and accountability.  These assumptions took shape in the minds of all Indians, throughout all generations who were brought up in the modern day bureaucracy and politics. To my little knowledge, there are hardly any countries, apart from a few South East Asian countries which let use of red beacons. The fallout of the usage of red beacons atop the cars of the officials was only the misuse of the so-called-privileges. It is true that privileges do come with responsibilities.
However, mere availing the privileges and not delivering the responsibilities is whatIndian bureaucracy and politics has failed at. The allure of the lal batti was so much that youngsters used to join the services keeping the privileges in the mind.  Now, the Government doing away with these privileges has jolted the bureaucracy out of the comfort zone. Had the bureaucracy been in good shape, there would not have been any reasons for these decisions to be taken. The poor state of the civil services was highlighted by home ministerRajnathSingh on civil services day who lambasted the organizers for the delays in the program.
Indian democracy has reached a point wherein these changes are not only desired but also highly mandatory.
Consider an utopian Indian developed society wherein an industrialist who creates thousands of jobs and is more accountable and thus commands more respect than any member of legislative council or assembly. This doing away of the lal batticulture will surely be welcomed by the general public. The nuisances created by the red beacon fixated vehicles are known to one and all and everyone has been at receiving end of it at some point in their lives.
There have been numerous incidents wherein ambulances and emergency services have been halted by the authorities to let a red beacon ridden vehicle to pass by smoothly leading to deaths of tens and hundreds because of medical emergencies.
One only wonders how the present state of the country would have been, had these steps been taken decades earlier. One can only cherish this step of the Government and wish many more to follow on similar lines.