THE use of red beacons which symbolize powers, sense of entitlements and VVIP culture in corridors of Delhi and state capitals and also act as incentives for some candidates wanting to appear for the UPSC examinations, will come to an end from May 1 this year. The union cabinet on Wednesday took a decision to delete several sections under 108 rule (use of red, white and blue light) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, to ensure that no dignitaries including President, Vice-President and Prime Minister, let alone bureaucrats in high positions, will be allowed to use red beacons atop their vehicles. Principal secretary-ranked IAS officer of Haryana cadre Ashok Khemka however took to Twitter to say that…
some other privileges must go too. “Use of British honorifics, 'Sir, His Excellency, My Lord' like the use of red beacon light on car also need a review”, he says. IAS-turned politician Jayaprakash Narayan says banning red lights on cars for 'VIPs' is long overdue. After welcoming the move, he added: “All other trappings of VIP culture in our democracy should go.”
According to notification no 52 (E) issued on January 1, 2002, only cabinet secretary, and not even union secretaries, is allowed to use red beacons, that too ones without flasher. But this "status" symbol is often misused across the country.
Many senior bureaucrats who are otherwise very active in social media platforms have not however expressed their views on the subject, leaving doubts whether they were happy with the blanket ban on this VIP symbol.
The ban was so blanket that the government decided not to allow red beacons even in vehicles meant for emergency services. Instead, Rule 108 (4) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, will be amended to ensure that emergency services vehicles such as fire brigades, ambulances etc. will be able to use blue beacons.
After taking this bold decision to end the British legacy on red beacon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Every Indian is a VIP”. Significantly, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan had not used vehicles with red beacons even before the decision was taken. Earlier, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal called for an end of VVIP culture. Also, after coming to power, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh (of the Congress) and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath (of the BJP) issued directives against use of red beacons by ministers and bureaucrats. Among other CMs, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee too travels in vehicles without having red beacons.