Penny wise Pound foolish is what I would call the current Austerity drive from UPA. Rich man plays poor man is what they are trying to project but it seems that idea has backfired. It all started on 9th September when Pranab Mukherjee requested External Affairs minister SM Krishna and his deputy Shashi Tharoor to give up their 5 star suites and shift to government guest houses. Right from that day Congress government has been in news not for its policies or governance but for this ostentatious austerity drive which has gone over the top.
Symbolism is one of the greatest means of communication in social, political historical context and this Austerity drive is just that. The Congress and the government it leads have launched an austerity drive against the backdrop of drought in some parts of the country and rising prices of essential commodities. I have no problem with this idea but why now?? Haven’t we been in such difficult times before? If the government is thinking of resolving the drought situation just by making ministers fly economy class then they must be living in some fantasy world. They are just looking at the small picture but the bigger picture requires a lot of planning and doing which the government has failed to understand.
As all the ministers started following the High Command orders to tighten their belt how could Sonia Gandhi be left behind. The other day when Sonia Gandhi travelled by economy class from Delhi to Mumbai the big question to be asked was how much did she save? So let’s do some math
If Sonia had taken the Business Class – Rs 62,000
When she shifted to Economy it turned out to be Rs 55,000..
So that’s a saving of only Rs 7000 which is nothing. It does not end there. When Sonia travelled by economy class 5 rows of seats which amounts to 15 tickets had to be reserved for her security personnel. This is not a problem since Airlines are not packed to full capacity these days but on days when there will be heavy demand it would cause inconvenience. The math does not end there. Sonia Madam needs 3 SUV’s wherever she travels and the cargo charges for the 3 was 3 Lakhs which might be shocking for many. You can get a brand new Ritz for that cost :D..
Yesterday we saw Rahul Gandhi travelling by chair car from Delhi to Ludhiana which turned into a nightmare for some passengers.. There were congress supporters on the platform which caused inconvenience to the fellow passengers to board the train and the train was even stoned when Rahul was returning back in the same train.
However all are not in favour of this Austerity drive in the government. Sharad Pawar said minister’s work better on flights if traveling in comfort. Oh yaa..Then what has he done about the drought situation and the rising prices. Nothing !!!! They have five years? What they can’t achieve in 5 years, they expect to complete in a 2-3 hour or even a 10 -12-hour flight? Crazy people. On one side we have ministers going by economy class and on the other we have Ministries organizing functions in 5 star hotels. Yesterday itself we had Gulab Nabi Azad who has failed in tackling the swine flu have a Conference in a luxurious hotel which cost close to 10 lakhs. Why such spending when it could have been organized in Govt bungalows at half the price??
The whole thing of simplicity that the Govt is trying to project in a sense is Anarchism. We have Zamindars and Crorepathi ministers who are used to luxuries and suddenly they are being told to cut down on their costs. Politics is all about double standards. There is a popular Hindi saying that ‘Haathi ke dikhane ke daath kuch hote hain aur khane ke kuch”. They are trying to appear what they are not.. It’s for the camera and to impress the general public. We have millionaires who act like Daridranarayan.
How do you end the Austerity Debate???
It seems like we are trying to boil the ocean. Few lacks of rupees saved would not move a needle for India. I would be happier if we could see fundamental changes in the way ministries are governed for India to win in future.. that would be sustainable impact for all of us .The government should think of implementing the projects that have been taken up. It is estimated that over-runs on 301 projects would cost the government Rs. 46,000 crore and in the power sector alone, delayed projects would cost the tax-payer over Rs. 23,000 crore.The first thing that needs to be done is to downsize the cabinet to half. Most of the ministers of state have no work. For example it seems that Shashi Tharoor spends more time on twitter than on his govt policies. Just to please the allies and other political issues several crores of tax payers money is being wasted. If they really want to cut down on costs then they should take the tough decisions and not soft options
The very fact that this Austerity drive would last only a year just goes to show that Congress government is indulging in “cheap gimmicks” with its leaders travelling by air in economy class or by chair-cars in trains and in this process trying to divert peoples attention from rising prices and poverty. Atleast that is what they feel but the public has become smarter and is not going to fall for such cheap tactics of tokenism. Hope they realize that soon and start working towards good governance and root out corruption. I know it’s a bit too much to ask from our politicians but cant help it. That’s what I call optimism 🙂