In India, our reverence for political leaders often crosses the most absurd lines. From one Chief Minister getting his feet bathed in milk by two women in broad daylight, to another who was carried around on the shoulders of policemen during a flood, our displays of servile devotion are often completely ridiculous.
In a magnanimous statement recently, the PM rallied against this "VIP culture" with the announcement of yet another acronym - EPI - "Every Person is Important". All this, in the backdrop of the ban against 'lal batti' or red beacons on vehicles except for a blue light for emergency services.
Full marks for lip service, but the facts are that there are 3 cops allocated to protect every VIP in India, while we have only one cop for every 663 regular, "not-so-important" people. In states like Bihar, that divide is even more pronounced, with 3,200 VIPs guarded by 6,248 cops.
The PM's statement claiming to give equal importance to every person in the country's 1.2 billion population, would never change the mindset of a society which has perpetuated this "VIP culture" for generations. If any change is possible, it will have to come from the people themselves, who must stop treating elected leaders as gods, and instead make those leaders accountable for the jobs they've been elected to do.
A step in that direction is offered by PRS Legislative Research (PRS) - an independent research initiative that has started a service to gauge the performance of MPs. By sending a simple SMS or visiting their website, every citizen can judge for themselves how important these leaders really are.