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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Regional Takes

The red beacon's tale
Vikramdeep Johal, Hindustan Times
April 18, 2013
First Published: 09:13 IST(18/4/2013)
Last Updated: 09:15 IST(18/4/2013)

I'm the cherry on the cake, jewel in the crown, cock of the walk. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm the one and only red beacon, the much-flaunted symbol of power and authority in Incredible India. When my light starts flashing, the message is loud and clear: "Don't mess with me."


The car-borne VIP thinks he or she is way above the riff-raff. Well, I'm literally even above the VIP. The sight of me draws instant respect from every traffic cop, even though he's busy muttering expletives after having stood for unending hours in the scorching sun. Forget about issuing a challan, he salutes smartly every time we jump the lights.

When the boss is away, I make fun of my lesser companion, the car driver, who considers himself no less than a VVIP. "You are replaceable, I'm not," I say, cutting him down to size. Willy-nilly, he bows his proud head before me, realising his place in the pecking order.

I'm pained to hear that the Supreme Court has told state governments to cut down on my use. The SC has even dismissed me as a "fashion and status symbol". With all due respect to the judiciary, I would like to clarify that I'm a basic necessity for public servants (read masters). If I'm reduced to a rarity, the whole system of governance would collapse. If I become an endangered species, how would you separate the wheat from the chaff, the haves from the have-nots? What is the point of becoming an MP, MLA, IAS/IPS officer, etc if you are not able to stand out in the traffic?

No, my lords, such anarchy should not be allowed at any cost. It will rip apart our already overstretched social, cultural and political fabric. Worthy judges, I appeal not only to your sense of justice but also to your sense of beauty. Don't you think a beacon-less official car looks as dreadful as a toothless tiger, hornless rhino or headless chicken?
Never mind the zoo-logical arguments, the fact is that my prestige and existence are on the block. I urge the public to join politicians and government officials in the "Save the Red Beacon" campaign. After all, ordinary citizens are also VIPs (very insignificant persons), and I know that a majority of them envy the fellows who possess me. If given a chance, they would love to install me on their cars, mobikes, scooters, rickshaws and what-not. Yes, I'm the cynosure of all eyeeeeee…

Afterword: The beacon's tale was cut short by a VUP (violent unemployed postgraduate), who smashed it with a stone during a protest rally. The official car was overturned, while the VIP and his driver barely escaped being stripped by a mob of jobless youths. Alas, the mighty beacon lay shattered on the road. May its soul rest in pieces!


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