VIP culture versus public interest and the issue of bureaucratic privileges versus code of ethics have been persistent challenges in India’s governance system. This essay explores the historical roots of VIP culture, the problems it poses, and the attitudinal changes needed in civil servants to prioritize public interest over personal status. Additionally, it offers measures and solutions to address these issues, with examples of past events that have attempted to curb VIP privileges.
Historical roots of VIP culture:
VIP culture traces back to the British era when colonial masters enjoyed power and privileges over the native population.
Over time, this culture perpetuated, leading to certain individuals receiving preferential treatment over common citizens.
Problems posed by VIP culture and bureaucratic privileges:
Inequality and unfair resource allocation: Undue privileges lead to the misuse of limited resources, causing hardship to the common citizens.
Trust deficit: Such incidents erode trust between citizens and the administration, hindering effective governance.
Tarnishing the system’s integrity: VIP culture brings disrepute to the entire governance system, raising questions about its integrity.
Link to status symbol: Some civil servants associate their service with status, exacerbating the conflict between VIP culture and public interest.
Measures and solutions to address the issue:
Leading by example with responsibility:
Leaders and administrators must serve as role models, balancing public and private life responsibly.
Guided by conscience:
In the absence of specific rules, civil servants should let their conscience guide their decisions in public and private matters.
Eliminating VIP culture:
A democratic society should not tolerate VIP privileges; instead, emphasize the culture of EPI (Every Person is Important).
Attitudinal change in civil servants:
Foundational values of service and integrity must be instilled in civil servants, fostering inclusivity, equality, democracy, and welfare.
Civil servants cannot enjoy exemptions and privileges that distance them from the people they serve.
Reward and punishment system:
Officers violating the code of conduct should face accountability through appropriate actions after an inquiry.
Exemplary service should be recognized and rewarded.
Media and citizen vigilance:
Media, as the fourth pillar of democracy, must report such incidents without biases to prevent their recurrence.
Citizens should be aware of their rights and actively participate in holding the administration accountable.
VIP culture and bureaucratic privileges pose significant challenges to India’s governance and public interest. By implementing measures such as leading by example, conscience-driven decision-making, and eliminating VIP culture, civil servants can prioritize public welfare. Additionally, a reward and punishment system and vigilant media and citizens can foster accountability and transparency in the governance system. Past events, such as the Supreme Court’s ruling on red beacons and AIIMS’ decision to scrap VIP counters, have attempted to address these issues, showing that the journey towards a more equitable and citizen-centric governance system is ongoing.