Nepal: Time to End Pompous VIP Culture

Picture credit : Sanjog Manandar

by Laabhesh Thapa 7 November 2019

In recent incident, People had showed their anger for the VIP culture in Nepal, where people had to wait for hours to pass the motorcade of the president and there was a question raised over the difference between the democracy and the rule of monarch as VIP culture is still prevalent There is an atmosphere of the hatred for the VIP culture in Nepal. While a common citizen is faced with a general atmosphere of insecurity, the increased expenditure on VIPs from the public exchequer to fund their security and pompous travel expenses is palpably unjust. It is worse when the common citizens are compelled to adjust their travel schedules and around the unannounced urgent commotion of VIPs. 

There are numerous things that has to be changed in Nepal to move towards the end of this VIP culture such as removal of beacon lights, sirens and road blocks which is very common. The blocking of traffic to make way for VIP vehicles should be limited to at most the top constitutional posts and the state-funded system of having excessive security guards and helpers needs to be done away with.

VIP culture  is the culture practiced by the bureaucrats ,  ruling elites  as all the privileges  are  captured by them  while the  disempowered  populace  are saddled with  poverty , scarcity  and general misery. The VIP culture is something which is fundamentally undemocratic resisting the idea of equality. 

On one hand the right to equality of citizens is being advocated and provisions for security and usage of red beacon lights are made for the VIP(s).  The idea of VIP culture is  demeaning  something which is , inherently undemocratic which mitigates the idea of equality  the problem of VIP culture has become a endemic in Nepali society .

The pompous  travel  including an  entourage  of vehicles requires  substantial expenditure from  the public resources A larger question remains on who is accountable to furnish details on the expenses incurred while providing such treatment to the VIP(s) and their families. The people who are accountable find it difficult to make a move as it involves politicians and influential people.

Social conflict theory by Karl Marx argues that common people, especially the marginalized are alienated of basic amenities, while the powerful decide to guard their power and status. Conflict theorists view this relationship between the “common” people and VIP(s) as that of one between owner and tenant primarily constructed on conflict rather than harmony. Even though prima-facie the relationship may appear to be harmonious, but it is merely because of the law and other elements, which themselves are a product of conflict, working as impediments and further constraining  this  relationship.  

In Nepal, having a beacon light on vehicles symbolizes a social prestige and it’s hard to imagine a VIP convoy without these lights , Very recently India banned the use of red beacon lights as a step to end the VIP Culture.  The culture of having beacon  lights on VIP  vehicle is  one laced with class consciousness  which reinforces  pauperism  It acts as a bridge to the culture of arrogance and privilege providing for a sense of entitlement, which must be done away with.  But the more relevant question to ask is whether removing red beacon lights would end VIP culture. As there is no point in not having the red lights and having the same arrogance and same culture of dominance by the VIP(s). To pass the red light vehicles and special treatment for the VIP the common populous has to suffer from delays in traffic which essentially causes inconvenience   among the people.

In neighbouring country  India ,  removal of beacon light from the vehicles is  an appreciable work  but it is only fraction of the larger picture of the debate  not , everything is VIP culture in Law and  there are some safeguards  and provisions  for a reason, and safeguards for president , Prime Minister is valid but the safeguards which  has been misused by Ex ministers , Ex employees of the Government of Nepal  for example, using Government vehicle ,  fuel ,  servant after their retirement also  so, thus showing the prevalent class difference in the society   and the rules are not same for the ordinary people and  the politicians and their rich entitled offspring’s. Most of the  personnel sent for security  are  found to have been exploited  as domestic workers and drivers  The ministry of Home affairs has reduced the number of armed forces and  Nepal police for the security of the  retired officers which is to be appreciated . It is a very difficult a task to dissolve this VIP culture, as it is a result of the hegemonic order of the society.

Undoubtedly there are some people in the country who need Z+ security, including Prime Minister and the president. But there are many such individuals who do not need such security but have access to it. Unfortunately in our country VIP security is perceived as a symbol for status.

The so called“important” people in the country are not willing, and cannot do away with the privileges that come with their status. There is enough reason to challenge the Idea of VIP culture and scrap it altogether. The VIP culture is everywhere, be it at the airports, roads, and various other public places.  As  citizen we must strive  to change the  system and  bring out the meaning  of equality and justice  and do away with this mindset  which disallows us to  step out of the VIP syndrome . But getting rid of certain symbolisms would not manifest into a society completely free of the VIP culture.The power translating into entitlement does not allow the weaker section of society to uplift their condition. This practice of special treatment needs to end.

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