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Red beacons banned for VIPs from May 1

The Indian government decided on Wednesday to ban red beacons atop cars of all ministers, politicians and bureaucrats, ending a privilege that was seen as the ultimate status symbol.

The ban, effective from May 1, doesn’t exempt even vehicles of the country’s top dignitaries such as the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.

But ambulances and vehicles of the fire service, police, and army will be allowed to use blue flashing beacons to cut through traffic. About six categories of beacons — primarily red, blue and yellow — are in use in India.

But the red, or the coveted “lal batti”, has been drawing maximum attention as an elitist VIP symbol since the British rulers introduced it.

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