Yesterday I was going from Santacruz West in Mumbai to Chembur on an autorickshaw and was passing Western Express highway when suddenly out of nowhere a huge traffic jam appeared. As with other traffic jams, no one bothered to inspect the reason and everyone was content, lost in conversations. Suddenly right behind me an ambulance started its emergency alarm. People obviously took note and tried to wedge around and create some space for the ambulance.
And this is when we realized that jam was not because of a pothole or a faulty signal but it was a roadblock setup because a VIP was passing by. He was going to attend some award function at Hyatt hotel. His cavalcade had some 20 odd cars and an ambulance in the tow. After he passed through, the fat policeman lazily ambled and opened the road block. I dont even know what would have happened to the person in the ambulance who was in dire need of medical attention.
I mean VIP by definition is Very Important Person and its us, the common man who has made another common man, an important person. Why should a VIP thus get a priority over a common man when it comes to using roads and other public infrastructure? And especially over a dying man stuck in an ambulance that is forced to wait because a VIP has a party to attend?
Understood that very important people have very important tasks to do and they are busy and they cant afford to get stuck in the traffic. And since they are important, their security is also of prime concern. But is roadblocks a solution? It they are getting late, cant they leave early enough? If they are important, cant they schedule meetings at nearly locations? And if all this is unavoidable, why cant they take a route and a time that is not inconvenient to everyone else?
Talking of security, if I were to hit a VIP running on an empty road, all I need is to hire a sniper perched on top of a roof. And then there are other easier, more efficient ways to target them in hotels, news conferences, restaurant openings, movie premieres etc. After all these are the things that take bulk of a VIP's time.
How about looking at alternative modes of transport? A helicopter ride for example. It costs some Rs. 50,000 per hour. I am sure it will be less than what it costs to run 20 cars, atleast 100 personnel, another 500 policemen to man the route, about 500 cars affected because of the jam and one or two odd people stuck in ambulances.
How about having all the important functions at one place? Something like the parliamentary building where all the not so important ones who want to meet the very important ones are summoned and meetings are conducted in a safe environment?
There are one thousand questions that we can ask. And we should. India asks Y.
Originally written for Mutiny.in