Friday, September 18, 2009

Too austere to appreciate !

I was eagerly awaiting NDTV's late night program "The Buck Stops Here" as the subject for panel-discussion was our very own very well known(by now, courtesy a grand media attention it has gathered) "The Great Austerity Drive" of the Indian National Congress. The Panel comprised the ubiquitous Jayanthi Natarajan (ubiquitous ! yes, she has to be; she is the AICC spokesperson, after all), Shyam Benegal, another lady and another gentleman (can't recall their names... my bad !). As was expected, Jayanthi Natarajan went on harping on what the INC stood for, what its (political) culture stood for, how insightful, thoughtful, and down-to-earth were the initiative(s) of the top brass of congress, right from the word 'go'. It's interesting to know that the protagonist to the play [who,supposedly, has spun a cobweb with a blue colored "t" written all over it ! (read Tweet...Tweet....Twitter !)], Dr. Shashi Tharoor, was a thousand miles away on an external affairs ministerial visit (to Liberia;yes, I have been following him on Twitter). The furor is an aftermath to a tweet answering a query (asking if Dr. Tharoor was willing to travel in the "cattle(economy) class") that stated "absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our 'holy cows'". My dear friend informed me that "cattle class" is an english slang and a british colloquialism used commonly by the inhabitants there. Besides, the phrase 'holy cows' refers to some sacrosanct belief or principle that nobody can challenge. To my earlobes, though, the phrases did sound  a touch demeaning and inconsequential, both at the same time. As Ms. Jayanti told, innumerable people travel by economy class and to use such phrases(in public domain !) was totally condemnable, disgraceful, unacceptable and a politically incorrect act, more so on the part of such a learned traveled well-read experienced scholarly man. But she couldn't recall enough to tell that it was a phrase that he (Dr. Tharoor) had only repeated, the real culprit (in the eyes of INC, of course) was the journalist who used that phrase in his question. But, even that is totally dispensable. There are bigger more important issues to address.

It is true that the Congress' austerity spree has gained much hullabaloo amidst all the debates and discussions that it has garnered but I certainly see it in light of a certain betrayal to the humongous innocent public that announced its verdict in favour of the congress led UPA not so long ago. The so-called Austerity drives, the Yatras (Rath or Pad or Whatever), all these activities draw great public attention and instantaneously connect with the aam-aadmi by virtue of first, these activities being blessed with an inherent property of amassing billions and second, harnessing the Achilles heel  of us Indians, our emotions and succeed every time because we are like that only, we are emotional people, how much ever we try to, we can never wish away the fact that we have always been and we are still being hoodwinked or to use a simpler and precise word, befooled by the so-called altruism of our governors occupying apex governmental positions(either directly or with an indirect 'Sonia Gandhi').

India, in its 60 odd years since independence, has amassed many issues of critical importance worth applying our brains to and has been really struggling all through to find a way out as if Stuck in a Labyrinth !. We have made tremendous progress too in almost every realm (which I hold no intention to slight to the least) but every time activities like the current austerity drive come up, it leaves me thinking, have we? Really? The incumbent government has a lot to tackle, abject poverty, unemployment, the recession (it's not over till it's over!), the drought,  terrorism, intrusions at the borders, the immediate neighbourhood and accompanying tensions, to name a few. Seeking solutions to these problems and many others would be the real austerity drive for the government. There are innumerable avenues where the government can exhibit its sincerity(in executing government sponsored welfare schemes and other development programs), adroitness(in tackling external affairs and cross-border issues), care(for the poor food growers, downtrodden women, and children), and austerity(in dealing with criminals, terrorists, and other anti-social evils). Suffice it to say, governments at the helm of affairs have, over the years, performed far from satisfactory on all these indices.

It's time governments stopped betraying innocent people on the pretext of so-called austerity drives. It's time governments started behaving more responsively in a manner justifying the trust of billions of people who have nothing but hope in their eyes and in a manner ensuring the hope remains.There are, indeed, bigger more important issues to address.

To get a different and critical perspective on the issue (austerity drive), this piece by Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai is strongly recommended. Follow the link - Keep it Simple


ravi nandan said...

I believe mr sashi tharoor should not have used that slang.bye the way this auserity drive is just a dhong.
if w remember after bjp government congress came in power and it changed all the banners of mr atal bihari vajypee spending more than 100 crores. this practise is most common in every state after elections.
my point is that people should not give much attention on it. and they should select their representatives on the basis of their work.

lee said...

Austerity.. i dun think is evil.Neither is a drive for it. The question is "Can U quantify austerity and standardize it?". If not all these things are but a melodrama.