In a most welcome move, the Union Cabinet has decided to disallow the use of the red beacon on vehicles on India’s roads. Starting May 1, only vehicles on emergency services, such as ambulances, fire trucks and police cars, will be permitted the use of a beacon — from now, a blue-coloured one.
So-called dignitaries will no longer have the privilege of announcing their exalted status on the road by sporting beacons on their passenger vehicles. For this, the Central Motor Vehicles Rules of 1989 are to be amended, so that the Central and State governments lose the power to nominate categories of persons for the red-beacon distinction.
As a symbol of an assault on India’s over-reaching VIP culture, this is a good beginning. The flashing red beacon has become so closely associated with unchecked official power that in popular culture it is often all that is depicted to establish a character’s place in the hierarchy.
In fact, it is seen to be such a symbol of arrival in the country’s power structure that at a workshop for first-time MPs in 2009, one of the main demands made was that cars with red beacons be allotted to them. Such demands have also made its very denial a low-hanging fruit for regimes seeking to establish their street cred as men and women of the people. For instance, over the last three years, governments in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, each of a different political hue, have limited the use of the red beacon.
But to meaningfully begin to dismantle India’s VIP culture, doing away with status symbols such as red beacons is not enough.
For one, this accessory is just one category among privileges that maintain a colonial-era overhang on the country’s democracy, by publicly enforcing a subject-ruler separation. From pat-downs avoided at the security gate at an airport to a freer pass at the toll-gate on a highway, there are numerous ways in which the culture of entitlement is asserted.
Such visible reminders of a feudal separation apart, the power of official proximity is experienced by citizens most intimately while accessing government services — from getting a bed at a state hospital, or a seat for one’s child in school, to cutting the waiting time for, say, a passport or an Aadhaar identity proof.
To be, or to know, ‘somebody’ is far too often perceived as a requisite to getting one’s rightful due in a political economy of shortages, sloth and rent-seeking. To refresh Indian democracy, the state needs to stop protecting MPs who coast along on “don’t you know who I am” bullying. But yet more importantly, it must also reform procedures and the work culture to provide a level playing field to citizens to get what is theirs by right.
Take-away from the editorial-
Few critical words such as-
culture of entitlement
A Powerful statement-
To be, or to know, ‘somebody’ is far too often perceived as a requisite to getting one’s rightful due in a political economy of shortages, sloth and rent-seeking.
Internalize these words and sentences so as to use them appropriately.In exam one barely has 7-8 mins to answer a question, and it essentially acts as a constraint on writing good statements/critical words unless one has internalized it.
It has been our core value that in order to write effective and good answer one need to inculcate good reading habits, but only reading will not help if the critical aspects/words are not internalized and reproduced in the exam in real time. To meet the quality standards of UPSC it is a must.
Darknet, also known as dark web or darknet market, refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed or accessible through traditional search engines. It is a network of private and encrypted websites that cannot be accessed through regular web browsers and requires special software and configuration to access.
The darknet is often associated with illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services, although not all sites on the darknet are illegal.
Examples of darknet markets include Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Dream Market, which were all shut down by law enforcement agencies in recent years.
These marketplaces operate similarly to e-commerce websites, with vendors selling various illegal goods and services, such as drugs, counterfeit documents, and hacking tools, and buyers paying with cryptocurrency for their purchases.
Anonymity: Darknet allows users to communicate and transact with each other anonymously. Users can maintain their privacy and avoid being tracked by law enforcement agencies or other entities.
Access to Information: The darknet provides access to information and resources that may be otherwise unavailable or censored on the regular internet. This can include political or sensitive information that is not allowed to be disseminated through other channels.
Freedom of Speech: The darknet can be a platform for free speech, as users are able to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or retribution.
Secure Communication: Darknet sites are encrypted, which means that communication between users is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
Illegal Activities: Many darknet sites are associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services. Such activities can attract criminals and expose users to serious legal risks.
Scams: The darknet is a hotbed for scams, with many fake vendors and websites that aim to steal users’ personal information and cryptocurrency. The lack of regulation and oversight on the darknet means that users must be cautious when conducting transactions.
Security Risks: The use of the darknet can expose users to malware and other security risks, as many sites are not properly secured or monitored. Users may also be vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks.
Stigma: The association of the darknet with illegal activities has created a stigma that may deter some users from using it for legitimate purposes.
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, making decisions, and understanding natural language.
Virtual assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are examples of virtual assistants that use natural language processing to understand and respond to users’ queries.
Recommendation systems: Companies like Netflix and Amazon use AI to recommend movies and products to their users based on their browsing and purchase history.
Efficiency: AI systems can work continuously without getting tired or making errors, which can save time and resources.
Personalization: AI can help provide personalized recommendations and experiences for users.
Automation: AI can automate repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing up time for humans to focus on more complex tasks.
Job loss: AI has the potential to automate jobs previously performed by humans, leading to job loss and economic disruption.
Bias: AI systems can be biased due to the data they are trained on, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes.
Safety and privacy concerns: AI systems can pose safety risks if they malfunction or are used maliciously, and can also raise privacy concerns if they collect and use personal data without consent.