Super ego

The fuss in India over the secondary immigration check which superstar Shah Rukh Khan was made to undergo at Newark airport in the US is a sign of our excessive VIP fixation and poor security consciousness. Many Indians were scandalised because their icon was asked a few questions and made to wait for two hours at the airport before he was cleared. A senior minister even said that India should go for a tit-for-tat response if the US officials continued with this ‘insulting practice’. There was similar furore when former President Abdul Kalam was recently made to go through security checks by the ground staff of an American airline at New Delhi. Kalam did not have any complaint, but Shah Rukh Khan seems to have been very upset.

There is little realisation that the problem is with our response rather than with the US immigration officials’ action. The officials were doing their duty and should have been complimented for their professional attitude. SRK was given no discriminatory or improper treatment. Barack Obama was subjected to security checks in airports when he was a presidential candidate. America’s political icon Edward Kennedy and former Vice-President Al Gore have been subjected to more rigorous checks than SRK was. Cultural superstar Bob Dylan was security-checked in New York the same day when SRK was questioned at the airport.

The US security is more efficient and effective because the rules and procedures are strictly enforced and VIPs do not get special treatment. Our security is lax because there is no respect for regulations and VIPs are above the law. The bloated egos of many VIPs cannot stand a few questions by a lowly official who is only doing his duty. The security system, from top to bottom, knows this and can enforce the rules only on pain of punishment and humiliation. It is a feudal mindset and operates not only in matters related to security but everywhere when VIPs come face to face with the laws of the land. We have not yet imbibed the democratic idea that all are equal before the law and that it should be applied equally to everybody. SRK’s assertion that he was ‘shabbily’ treated because of having ‘Khan’ as his last name does not hold water. The truth is that his ego was hurt because his ‘status’ was not recognised. We as a nation should take a positive lesson from the Newark incident and similarly adopt strict procedures in security matters.

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