Starting today, ministers, politicians and bureaucrats will be banned from using red beacons atop their vehicles, thanks to the government's decisions that doesn't even exempt the country's top VIPs like the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.
But are red beacons the only privilege Indian VIPs -- especially ministers and bureaucrats -- enjoy? Absolutely not. While lal battis allow ministers to out-manoeuvre traffic and bring the rest of the traffic to a halt, various others frills eat into taxpayer's money.
Take a look at some such privileges VIPs enjoy:
No frisking at airports
Union ministers and ministers travelling on government work are exempt from frisking at international airports. A total of 33 categories of people are on the government's no-frisk list at present, including former presidents, deputy prime minister, the Chief Justice of India, speaker of the Lok Sabha, Union cabinet ministers, chief ministers, former prime ministers, leaders of Opposition in both Houses, Bharat Ratna awardees, ambassadors, Supreme Court judges, UPSC chairperson, chief election commissioner and the comptroller and auditor general of India.
First class travel
Ministers are given first class plane tickets for all official travel in India and overseas. Same is the case for train travel within the country.
Lutyens Delhi residence
Despite having homes allotted by respective State governments in their home states, ministers are also allotted residences in Lutyens Delhi, for which they pay a rent of just about Rs 2,000. Their homes further come with free water, near-free electricity, security and other such amneties. These MP bungalows are also furnished with air conditioners, refrigerators and television sets, free of cost. The maintainance and upkeep of the residences comes out of taxpayer's money.
All ministers are given suites in the hotels they stay at, while they travel for official work. The justification given for the luxury is that ministers conduct everyday meetings in their rooms, but the price for their luxury comes out of the taxpayer's pocket.
450 Indians are provided a VVIP security cover including Mukesh Ambani's wife Nita Ambani. The list has continued to swell over the years, even as the NSG - a force trained for counter-terrorism operations - has requested to downsize the number. NSG commandos say that the job is not only demoralising but also demanding for the agency which is already a lean force.
- Most medical expenses of ministers are taken care of by the Contributory Health Service Scheme of the Union government.
- Ministers are also entitled to three phone lines and 170,000 free local calls every year.
- Ministers are also entitled to a luxury car and chauffeur.