IP privilege which leads to the kind of incidents that went down in Delhi is the bane of a meritocratic society
Events that unfolded at a posh hotel in South Delhi a few nights ago have once again highlighted the many shades of the all-persuasive, boorish VIP culture that infects the Indian body politic. A famously affluent, entitled and sordid brat, son of a former MP, was seen brandishing his gun at a couple, hurling vile abuse at her as well as the hotel’s security staff and using his version of the time-tested default threat of India’s entitled: Tu jaanta nahin mera baap kaun hai? You don’t know who I am… I am from Lucknow, the offensive brat can be heard saying, his threat punctuated by vile abuse. He may well belong to the city of nawabs but they must all be turning somersaults in their graves given Ashish Pandey epitomises the exact opposite of the culture of tehzeeb that city has been known for. The accused (police have registered a case) is the son of a former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) parliamentarian Rakesh Pandey and brother of Ritesh Pandey, currently a sitting MLA from Jalalpur in Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkar Nagar. His brazen brandishing of his sophisticated high-bore sidearm in full public view to threaten a couple he and his equally abusive and vile female companions had a disagreement with was bad enough, but the attitude of hotel staff who ended up as his enablers allowing him and companions to escape unhindered in his multi-crore vehicle from the hotel premises too needs to be condemned.
The loser Ashish Pandey’s obsession with weapons is on full display on his social media profile, incidentally, including a photograph of him showing off what appears to be a sub machine-gun. But then gun licences in this country are usually granted to the rich, famous and powerful and never to those who need to protect their selves, families and/or properties. And they don’t come more powerful and connected that a political family facing multiple criminal charges from the badlands of Uttar Pradesh. Pandey’s father himself faces three criminal charges and his uncle (a former MLA) has 32 criminal cases registered against him. But why blame politicians and their kin alone for this sort of abusive, entitled and dangerous behaviour? In a country and society where due process and rule of law is jettisoned in the face of communitarian ideologies whether of class, jaati, gender, community or creed, and education, civility and restraint are considered passe, this what you get. The culture of entitlement is so deeply ingrained in the collective psyche of the rich and the powerful in India that it will take a generation to reverse it; not that there seems to be any concerted move afoot to do so. VIP privilege which leads to the kind of incidents that went down in Delhi a couple of nights ago is the bane of a meritocratic society. And when guns do the talking, the potential for violence is ever-present. There are about 5,79,092 officially categorised VIPs in India as against just about 84 in Britain, 252 in the US and 435 in China. For a majority of these over five lakh people roaming our country and jumping the queue, as it were, with impunity, the power they wield has proven toxic for the rest of us ordinary or garden variety of citizens. The law is their plaything and they know it. Their clout is such that it even provides them with a protective shield organised by the very people mandated to protect citizens. They know they can get away with anything, however grotesque. A look-out notice for Ashish Pandey has been issued, who of course can’t be found after that night, but don’t expect much. Public memory is short and the will to take on VIPs non-existent in our great and ancient land.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer