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Red, blue, amber beacons: The many shades of India’s VIP culture

A look what the norm was on red beacons before the government ordered the ban on it from all VIP vehicles on Wednesday.

india Updated: May 14, 2017 14:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Red Beacon,Lal batti,Cabinet decides ban on red beacons
The cabinet has decided to ban the use of red beacons from VIP vehicles. (Sakib Ali/HT File Photo)

The ‘lal batti’ can work wonders in India: Traffic gets cleared, toll plaza barriers are lifted and duty officers smarten up to salute. But, come May 1, the colour Red loses its magic.

The government has decided to ban the use of all beacons – red, amber, blue, yellow, white – atop vehicles of dignitaries and government officials, including the Prime Minister and the president. The ban extends to the vice-president, the Chief Justice of India, Union ministers, chief ministers, state cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and judges of the high court and Supreme Court.

Such is the fetish with beacons that giving them up is made to appear like the ultimate sacrifice. The Aam Admi Party was the first off the block to ban beacons on VVIP cars in 2014, followed by Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh who put an end to the beacon culture in one of the first orders on taking over office this year. The unease among his ministers was such that richest legislator and power minister Rana Gurjit Singh complained, “We worked very hard for it for many years, and now you say remove it.”

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath went halfway to ban sirens but retained the ultimate status symbol. He, however, took dozens of retired bureaucrats and politicians off the privilege list.

But, will VVIP culture go with the beacon lights? One needs to wait and watch.

what the norm was before
Red light with flasher
  • President
  • Vice president
  • Prime Minister
  • Former president
  • Deputy prime minister
  • Chief Justice of India
  • Speaker of the Lok Sabha
  • Union cabinet ministers
  • Deputy chairman planning commission
  • Former prime ministers
  • Leaders of opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha
  • Judges of the Supreme Court
Red light without flasher
  • Chief election commissioner
  • Comptroller & auditor general of India
  • Deputy chairman Rajya Sabha
  • Deputy speaker Lok Sabha
  • Union ministers of state
  • Members of the planning commission
  • Attorney general of India
  • Cabinet secretary
  • Chiefs of staff of the three services holding the Rank of full general or equivalent rank
  • Union deputy ministers
  • Officiating chiefs of staff of the three services holding the rank of Lt General or equivalent rank
  • Chairman central administrative tribunal
  • Chairman minorities commission
  • Chairman scheduled castes and scheduled tribes commission
  • Chairman union public service commission
  • Solicitor general of India
Red light with flasher, within NCT Delhi
  • Lt. Governor
  • Chief minister
  • Chief justice of high court
  • Judges of high court
  • Speaker legislative assembly
  • Cabinet ministers
  • Leader of opposition in assembly
Red light without flasher, within NCT Delhi
  • State election commissioner
  • Deputy speaker of legislative assembly
  • Chief secretary
  • General officer commanding (GOC) of Delhi Area
"There will be no exception for anyone. The reason is very clear that the rule itself is being removed from the rule book."
- Arun Jaitley, finance minister
Blue/amber beacon with flasher
  • District judges
  • Police commissioner
  • Other IPS officers, IT commissioner
Blue/white or multi-coloured beacon
  • Divisional commissioners
  • District magistrate
  • Addition district magistrates
  • Sub divisional officers whose work necessitates fast and easy passage in certain circumstances
Blue beacon without flasher
  • Police vehicles, ambulances, VVIP escort vehicles
Yellow beacon
  • Session judge
  • Additional district judges
  • Additional commissioner of Income Tax
  • State police commissioner or DGP

First Published: Apr 19, 2017 18:56 IST