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Search them... or don’t

india Updated: Nov 23, 2007 20:14 IST

It appears to be the latest in VIP accessories. The ability to bypass the security measures that normal people are subjected to. Now selective frisking has resulted in a bit of a kerfuffle with army generals demanding to know why they are more prone to suspicion than a Robert Vadra who holds no known public office. The generals do have a point. But this desire to place oneself above all rules and regulations is par for the course in India. So you will see people jumping red lights, parking in no-parking zones and jumping queues with impunity. And woe betide any official who dares to point this out to the offender. The response is usually a ‘Do you know who I am?’ or ‘Do you know who I can call?’

No, we are not given to playing by the rules. The ageing stormy petrel of Indian politics, George Fernandes, realised that flaunting your position does not always work when he was subjected to a search at an airport in the United States. The outraged Mr Fernandes kicked up a storm as is his wont, but the US authorities stuck to their guns. Let alone being frisked in airports or public places, our VIPs are loath to even buy a ticket to a show. A pass is the symbol of being so important as not to have to shell out the money you can well afford for a show where you want to be seen. So we have the sight of the genuine film or theatre aficionado standing in a line hoping to secure a ticket only to find that VIPs have cornered all the seats. What most of our VIPs don’t realise — or don’t want to realise — is the fact that security searches are more to protect their own lives. It is something that public persons elsewhere have understood. It is reported that even a Secretary of State in the US is not exempt from routine airport searches.

Another peculiar affliction of our VIPs is their desire for very in-your-face security. Many a time has the hapless citizen been pushed off the roads by the security entourage of a passing VIP. Or elbowed out of the way in a public place to let a public worthy pass. But then, ours is not to reason why. Our public personalities clearly follow George W. Bush’s dictum, “I am the decider. I decide what is best.” And as for the rest of us, we are forced to fall in line.