Why are we not terribly shocked that the culture minister’s staff beat up the guards at a residential complex where he was to visit a relative? The guards were doing their job, but their insistence on following the rules were too difficult to stomach for the minister’s staff who had obviously got used to getting their own way and flouting all rules. We have come to expect this behaviour from our netas, or at least from many of them. We have seen state ministers themselves getting off their vehicles to beat up toll booth staff. We have seen elected representatives slapping bureaucrats who have not carried out their orders in time.
And, of course, the spectacle of netas and even bureaucrats getting their staff to tie their shoelaces or put their sandals on is now fairly commonplace. The home minister of the country himself once got a member of his staff to put on his footwear in public. Each time there is a public outcry against this ghastly behaviour, the neta in question comes up with the most bizarre explanations.
One said he was not well so had requested his staff member to tie his laces. If he was so unwell, what was he doing at a public function. It is not unknown for politicians to get their staff to do household chores, carry their luggage or generally undertake tasks considered too demeaning for them to do themselves.
This is all part of the VIP culture which has taken strong root over the years. Politicians are notorious in not wanting to wait for their turn anywhere, be it airports or on the roads. Most of us have at one point or the other been shoved off the road or made to wait for lengthy periods of time to let VIP convoys pass.
The prime minister had said he would put an end to this culture of entitlement. We are still waiting. Once elected to office, the politician considers himself in an exclusive class where the rules that apply to you and me don’t exist anymore in his world. So while we sweat it out during power cuts, no such thing takes place in the salubrious surroundings he lives in. We fret and fume in traffic jams while our MPs and MLAs cut through the traffic like a hot knife through butter thanks to security personnel clearing the path; a bit like Animal Farm where some animals ended up more equal than others.