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Matchboxes on plane: Raju’s bragging shows how VIPs misuse privileges

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju’s recent confession about carrying matchboxes on flights has started a debate on how VIPs misuse their privileges.

Raju said at the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) event that he carried matchboxes on plane as he is not frisked because of his position in the government.

“I have yet to come across an incident worldwide where a matchbox became a threat” the minister said trying to water down his offence and the threat he placed his fellow passengers under.

Matchboxes and lighters are one of the few items that passengers are not allowed to carry on a flight as they may cause risk or inconvenience for the passengers.

Regardless of this fact, Raju recounted “Once I became minister, people stopped frisking me, so a matchbox, which used to be confiscated, came along with me.”.

The minister’s comments became a national debate on the VIP culture of the country.

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Captain strikes at VIP culture in Punjab, shuns red beacon from government officials’ vehicles

Captain Amarinder Singh took a strike at the prevalent VIP culture, barring the ministers of the state, bureaucrats and himself from using the Red beacon on top of the vehicles provided

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Chandigarh, March 18, 2017: In the first cabinet meeting of the new form government led by Captain Amarinder Singh, he took a strike at the prevalent VIP culture, barring the ministers of the state, bureaucrats and himself from using the Red beacon on top of the vehicles provided.

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“My cabinet has decided to rid the state of VIP culture. All beacon lights to be removed from vehicles of Ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats,” said Amarinder Singh.

Moving one step forward, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal announced that none of the ministers and MLAs will lay any foundation stone or do innaugrations.

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“Even for big projects of Rs 100 crore or Rs 200 crore, the names of the Chief Minister and ministers will not be displayed (on the foundation or inauguration stones). It will carry only one line saying that the project has been executed with the money of the taxpayers,” Badal said while talking to the media.

The shift in power of Punjab has led many unsurprising changes. This recent decision came a day after when Punjab government reshuffled top bureaucrats from their current posting with immediate effect.

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While it’s too early to judge the outcome of the mandate given by the cabinet headed by Captain Amarinder, but it isn’t hard to presume the certainty of this verdict over the rampant VIP culture in the state of Punjab.

For now, it’s welcome and applaudable step at the part of the state government. Meanwhile, it would be interesting to watch whether other states pursuit this initiative taken by the incumbent government of Punjab.

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This the second time when Captain Amarinder Singh has returned to power. Prior to this, he served as the Chief Minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007.

-prepared by Ashish Srivastava of NewsGram Twitter @PhulRetard

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VIP darshans: Are the Gods and time sole privileges of the influential?

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By Prerna Grewal

The demand to stop the practice of issuing VIP tickets for having darshan at the temple is the new mantra of many devotees. Today, society and economy function together in a way that one’s class becomes a significant determinant of the privileges one is entitled to. Over time, people have become used to this model to the extent that it is more often than not reflected in their mentality.

The spiritual realm, a space for expression of faith, for taking a break from worldly hustle or for seeking hope has also been infected by this mentality. Under the pretext of satisfying all these purposes this mentality is gradually coming up as an alternate micro economy with its own norms of transactions and profits. The mentality or attitude of a minor yet influential section of today’s society is playing a significant role in letting this economy thrive.

An advocate had once filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking an end to the special darshan concept, since such a special categorization is in violation of Article 14 (equality before the eyes of the law).

The PIL drew attention to the fact that there was no regulation on the timings and no ceiling on the number of devotees in a special darshan group, thereby leading to various hardships for the ordinary devotees.

In this fast paced world, people don’t have a minute to spare, or at least they claim so, and want everything to be winded up as fast as possible. This attitude is exhibited also with respect to getting darshan of the deities as well. In cases like these, the purpose seems to be devoid of its essence.

It seems more like a practice that has to be followed for the sake of custom or status.“We have to visit 15 temples in five days, and a quickie darshan is the only way we can do it,”said Nandini Jayanth, an NRI, who embarked on a temple circuit during the famous ‘Chittirai’ festival in Madurai recently.

N. Raman, another NRI, said that every year he visits Srivilliputhur temple during the Andal birthday celebrations. “It is a massive crowd out there, and I cannot spend hours waiting for a darshan, and I have a gentleman’s agreement whereby I get waved through quickly”.

Obviously the agreements of many such “gentlemen” ensure the survival of this alternate economy. Accordingly it seems that not only God but even the time is a privilege of the influential. Apparently, the ordinary men aren’t as constrained as these special personages. The latter, because of being ‘important’ have more important responsibilities on their heads. But are they doing anyone a favor by sparing time for such “quickies”? If it’s being done out of a sense of compulsion, then it would be better if they simply avoided it and if they truly want to visit, then they might as well spare some time for it like hundreds of others.

Another important aspect that deserves attention is the utilization of the benefits earned through these agreements. Isn’t a major share of it pocketed for personal profits?

Many areas thrive on the funds accumulated through religious tourism. People are willing to spare large amounts of money for these special darshans. One would probably offend many religious devotees if one dares to raise the following question.

Will visiting a particular place of worship grant them better access to God?

If one tries to put forth an argument regarding the ultimate redundancy of these darshans, one would be inviting a significant amount of trouble.

The truth nevertheless is that the entire system earns a significant amount of money under the pretext of bestowing blessings. Not all of it is utilized for the development and prosperity of these places. Often smaller committees of selective people manipulate with the temple funds.

Like many other spaces this one too is infused with corruption and propagates by exploiting people on the basis of their faith. In India, it can be seen as one of the most widespread and deeply rooted networks of corruption.

Religion is so engrained within our mentality that it plays an influential role in shaping our decisions across different walks of life. Ironically, if it makes class barriers apparent, it also breaks through these barriers by having a magnetic effect and forcing people from all classes to act in similar ways. Although there is no doubt that people’s status shouldn’t be a determinant of their access to these places, the larger question that looms behind it is whether these darshans are worth one’s time, energy and investment in the first place.

One response to “VIP darshans: Are the Gods and time sole privileges of the influential?”

  1. If one has power, he can totally use it. And if problem still prevails, the system of special darshan lines should be abolished

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Maharashta CM causes an hour long delay as IAS officer forgets visa

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New Delhi: Maharashtra Chief Minister- designate Devendra Fadnavis flashes victory sign during his meeting with Union Minister for Transport Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla(PTI10_30_2014_000044B)

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

In yet another case of the special treatment meted out to the politicians, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday made passengers on board an Air India flight to Newark wait for almost an hour.

Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who flew to the US caused much confusion as he had only carried his new passport, while the US visa was stamped in his old one.

The seven-member delegation travelling with the CM reached the airport about 45 minutes before departure.

“It was only when he submitted his passport at the check-in counter for a boarding pass that Pardeshi realized that he did not have the US visa with him”, an airline source told TOI.

The secretary immediately called up his residence and arranged for his old passport to be brought to the airport.

As part of a VIP entourage, Pardeshi was issued a boarding pass. Whereas had he been a commoner, the airline would not have issued a boarding pass till the time the passport with the valid US visa was not submitted at the airline counter.

A protocol officer is always assigned to receive the chief minister at the airport, ensure he has a VIP room, takes care of his check-in, luggage, immigration and sees him off till the aircraft.

The protocol officer took the boarding passes of all members, including Pardeshi for requisite clearances from the CISF and immigration authorities.

Again, the fact that Pardeshi was travelling with a VIP helped as he was allowed to walk through Indian immigration, despite not having a valid visa for travel to the US.

The airline had begun boarding at 12.15 am and in an hour all the 250-odd passengers, except Pardeshi, were seated onboard the flight.

The boarding officer and special handling officer informed the CM about the situation but the CM insisted that he would travel only with his delegation.

“We decided to wait for Pardeshi for some time so that the need to offload baggage by opening the cargo section of the Boeing 777 could be avoided”, said the airline source.

Meanwhile minister of state for civil aviation, Mahesh Sharma refused to admit to the delay caused by the Devendra Fadnavis.

“I have spoken to the Maharashtra chief minister and officials concerned in Air India. Our findings are that the flight was not delayed for the principal secretary to CM. ATC and other technical issues during the operations caused delay,” Sharma told TOI.