Although the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government had decreed immediately after its formation that the ‘VIP culture‘ in the state end, various forms of it still persist. The ruling government had ordered initially that all names plates and beacons be removed from vehicles. The order was promptly complied with by all. Within a month’s time, the government also ordered that the PDA members abstain from attending functions as “chief guests.” That its members should refrain from giving donations or announcing monetary grants when attending public events. Likewise, the order restrained civil servants of the state from attending public events as “chief guests” or giving donations, or announcing monetary grants.
The members of the PDA were told also not to receive gifts and presentations—except for flowers—during public events. The only exception to gifts and presentations was to be during the arrival of dignitaries from outside the state.
It is now six months since the order was issued but the spirit of the culture that it forbids persists no matter what was decreed in the letter. There is no doubt that the number of vehicles in the convoy of VIPs have also drastically decreased since the government came to power. Vehicles no longer have the red or blue beacons. There is complete absence of nameplates in all the vehicles.
However, the ingenuity of those who still savour power along with VIP culture is there for all to see. The vehicles with flag poles that brazenly display power and influence is only increasing in the state. Most of these vehicles now are not even the official vehicles of the state’s legislatures but mostly of lackeys of politicians and party workers. Other than dignitaries from the Centre, only elected members in a state in India are allowed the fly the national flag on their cars. Others may include judges of high courts and officers of the armed forces if they are in the state. The government has to immediately issue another order restricting the flag poles on unauthorized cars.
The various declarations of names organisations and institutions of their owners, on the windshield of their vehicles, come next. Because name plates have been outlawed, it has made way for vinyl stickers on the windshield. In this case, it seems that the many church leaders and members of the clergy really cannot live without the convenience of name plates on their vehicles.
No doubt, literally it used to be life savers during the years of conflict in the state. However, the power that organised religion commands in the country is there for all to see.
The other ingenuity that the Naga minds have come up with will be the change in title names of chief guests since the order from the government came about. Now chief guests and guests of honour have been replaced by creations such as “special invitee”. This one beats all others as it seems Nagas are yet to get over with hero-worship.
It is either because Nagas were a tribal society that idolised warriors, especially the ones who took heads, and those rich men who gave feasts of merit to villagers, or that they had stories of rich kings and queens in their legends. Unfortunately for the Nagas, the chief guest culture was promoted all over India since Independence.
Over the years, Nagas tweaked it further to make it a source of income for event organisers. There have been cases of chief guests being branded misers because their donations did not even commensurate the amount that was spent on their gifts. Even this time though, the Nagas have found a way to beat the system by rephrasing the title names. Whether it is ‘chief guest’ or ‘guest of honour’ it would still primarily mean that the person is special for that particular event.
So, the use of the term ‘special’—whether it is for a guest or an invitee—still beats the whole idea behind the government’s intentions to stop the VIP culture. Moreover, a guest is someone who has been invited to a home or an event. So, a chief guest itself is, in fact, a special invitee.