Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Austerity by Rahul Gandhi is a farce and an attempt to fool the people with tokenism. The Father of the Nation who they sought to emulate traveled second class all his life in a separate compartment without security, to prevent inconvenience to co-passengers which would occur due to his celebrity status. Even this prompted Sarojini Naidu to comment on the cost to the nation to keep Gandhi poor. Well all this started with two ministers SM Krishna and Shashi Tharoor living in five star suites , since their palatial bungalows were not yet ready. Suddenly, someone in the Congress realized that the country was reeling under drought conditions and it would look bad if during these times ministers were living life king size.

The root of the problem to me today is a massive disconnect of India Inc. (corporate India) with Bharat (rural India). Merely the fact that is looks bad to live in five-star accommodation and discuss poverty alleviation in the rarefied portals of Delhi durbar is the least of the problems. The real problem is that all of us living in our cocoons of prosperity fail to even acknowledge that there is a large mass of starving destitute people in our country and in the world whose destiny is intertwined with ours. In our rape of mother earth and our anxiety to acquire and protect what we have already acquired we are as guilty as the ministers who live in five-star suites even at their own expense.

However, I do not advocate sack-cloth and ashes existence for all of us , but we can exercise moderation in our consumption, make sacrifices for the welfare of the poor and at least eschew vulgar, conspicuous consumption. How to do is left to each ones conscience and discrimination. Enforcement, token gestures and hypocrisy are an insult to the intelligence and sensibility of our toiling masses. If one needs to set examples on a personal level, measures like careful use of water and electricity in our daily use, using and buying only for ones need rather than greed, non-waste of food are the basic things which help to alleviate mass poverty. Turning vegan can be a huge force multiplier which can alleviate hunger and poverty and would to my mind be the perfect gesture or example appropriate to these times of drought. May our leaders understand that we are not fools and we can see through their masks of austerity.

Dr. Vispi Jokhi