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Advocating austerity in Indian politics
It should matter less to an Indian citizen whether a politician is austere or not, provided that their extravagance is not paid by public money and taxes. Even politicians should have the liberty to be extravagant in their private lives.

OVER THE past few days, the country has been engaged in a fierce debate over the austerity of our elected government officials. News channels have been giving numerous updates to the alleged profligacy of the MEA ministers, presenting the costs incurred by the hotels that were hosting them for the past three months.

The Minister of State concerned here, Dr Shashi Tharoor has clarified that he had responded to the same issue months ago, when questioned by a Malayalam news channel. He had paid the bill from his own pocket. Now, if my tax has not suffered in the course of the ministers “flaunting” accommodation at the country’s expensive hotels, then why should I be concerned with their private lives? Though the ministers have to be accountable and responsible, both at the level of their ministries and their constituencies, their private lives should not be up for such scrutiny.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC), according to Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has been vexed about the ministers’ five-star accommodations, especially during a financial crisis and the drought caused starvation. Is this not a loathsome statement? CWC seems to be extremely prudent in its concerns for the country, for it rallied the government to sign the ASEAN agreement without any deliberations, a month ago. This decision has had a fatal impact on those already affected by the crisis.

Yesterday, Rahul Gandhi responded to a media query that politicians needed to be austere. However, according to a Times of India report of July 2005, that Mr Gandhi should not make such statements, as he allegedly has a personal biking track as well as one for go-karting.

The point is that in a democratic nation, every citizen has the privilege to recreation and a life that he or she can afford. So then, what is the idea behind this surreptitiousness? Is the Congress Party claiming that the members of the party should feign to be austere?

It should matter less to an Indian citizen whether a politician is austere or not, provided that their extravagance is not paid by public money and taxes. It is reprehensible that political parties are strained to teach the lessons of austerity to its members who are rational, sensible and accountable adults. The politicians must have the liberty to decide whether they want to be austere and in a democracy, as the people can decide themselves if they wish to choose austerity or take into account contributions made by the leader toward the advancement of the society.

Rahul Gandhi should have the liberty to follow his passions without being threatened on the grounds of austerity. Similarly External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and the Minister of State for the same portfolio, Shashi Tharoor should also be given the same liberty.

Instead of wasting valuable time in such debates, our leaders should engage with issues which have a pan-India presence like starvation, malnutrition and the turbulent financial crisis. One such issue that failed to receive profound significance was the thwarting and heart-wrenching story of how women in Bundelkhand are being either forced into prostitution or being sold to keep her family alive, at least for a few days before malnourishment would take their lives away.


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In This Article
pranab mukherjee
(584 Articles)
rahul gandhi
(563 Articles)
shashi tharoor
(80 Articles)

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