False prestige

SECOND EDIT

Last week’s uproar and protest in parliament over the government’s proposal to downgrade security cover for some politicians testify to the wrong sense of priorities the MPs have.  The personal security of leaders became so important an issue that a day’s business was lost for the first time in this Lok Sabha. The government finally agreed to continue the same level of security for leaders like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Murli Manohar Joshi. There is no reliable and credible information on the threat to these leaders, or to the hundreds of others, who enjoy state-provided security. Politics, personal influence, patronage and false prestige are the key factors in the provision of such security. BSP members protested against reducing Mayavati’s security but the party’s government had cut down the security of many opposition leaders in the state.
It is estimated that about Rs 250 crore are spent every year on VIP security. Thousands of policemen are deployed for this. It was reported that a Punjab chief minister and his family were once protected by 1,000 policemen. Such high expenditure is unwarranted and unjustified. The four National Security Guards (NSG) hubs which were opened in the country recently are short of trained personnel because they have been deployed on security duty. The NSG has sought the return of 3,000 commandos who are protecting politicians. It is a waste of their training and resources to use them for VIP security duties. The number of policemen per unit population is much less in India than in many other countries and therefore we cannot afford the underutilisation and misuse of the strength that there is.

The movement of politicians under heavy security cover also creates much inconvenience and discomfort to ordinary people. Politicians hanker after a security set-up around themselves because it has become a sign of prestige and status. The different  grades of security are taken to point to different levels of importance. But very few politicians, officials or others actually require the kind of security they get now.  It is necessary to review the entire system of personal security at state expense and to cut it down to the barest minimum, keeping in mind the court’s view that politicians are not national assets to be protected.

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