Last time, I was stuck in a traffic jam due to President’s official visit, and it lasted for many hours. There was also an ambulance stuck in the traffic with us. We could clearly see the patient inside suffering due to pain. The police personnel were clearing the way for the ministers and other VIPs but unfortunately, the ambulance was disdained.
Many politicians, ministers and others holding top positions have adopted a ‘VIP culture’ of using vehicles with flashing beacons and security personnel around them to force their way through traffic. Even minor dignitaries and top government officials travel with large police escorts, adding to acute congestion and no doubt enraging the public.
Leaders are representative of the people. To all the leaders who use perks like security through traffic unnecessarily: Why do you fear the people so much? There was news that a person died due to a jam caused by the President’s visit. Many people have to miss their important meetings or work which can even hamper their life due to such useless traffic jams. Can not there be a provision or rule that such VIPs use alternative roads for travel so that it will not hamper other people? Or they could at least notify the public beforehand so that people do not have to suffer.
Once Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when he was the president of Iran, was asked by Fox News what he saw in the mirror every morning, and he had replied: “I see a person in the mirror and tell him, ‘Remember, you’re nothing more than a small servant, a day ahead of you filled with heavy responsibilities, namely to serve the Iranian nation.’”
He also denounced the VIP culture. He even refused to use the presidential airplane and changed into a cargo airplane to reduce the cost. The British Prime Minister walks on the road with hardly any security. He spends time on the beach among common people with decency and dignity. We can take inspiration from the Uruguayan President, José Mujica, who lives on a ramshackle farm and donates 90 percent of his earnings to charity. We have seen the American President enjoying his holiday and doing his work by himself. On the contrary, we have seen many of our leaders who use assistants even to hold the umbrella while delivering a speech.
Simplicity matters in leadership. Leaders should be close to people and down-to-earth. But in Nepal, leaders interact with people and knock at people doors only when they need votes from them. Once they reach the top positions, then they act like superiors and use vehicles with security to force their way through traffic.