The spirit of P. Sainath's article “The austerity of the affluent” (May 21) is understandable given the Indian context. But, by choosing to cite the expenses incurred on a high level government official, the article has become lopsided. Should the officer responsible for planning live like the poorest person? Did he bend rules or break them to travel on work?
The government policy of cutting deficits by lowering spending (austerity) has always smacked of double standards. Austerity is meant only for the common people to follow. For the ruling elite, there is no end to worldly pleasures.
“Austerity” has become a trendy term, used in speeches by world leaders in the U.S., Italy, Greece and, now, by our own Pranab da. In economics, austerity refers to a policy of deficit cutting by lowering spending, often via a reduction in benefits and public services. But in reality, austerity never touches the elite. It is the poorest of the poor who face the brunt of an economic crisis.
Apart from going on foreign trips costing the exchequer crores of rupees, our leaders follow austerity measures by flying in choppers to review drought affected areas, and when they do travel (as lesser mortals do) in SUVs, they are accompanied by several gas guzzlers.
It was shocking to read that people who are supposed to safeguard the economic health of the nation have been splurging public money. Such insensitive attitude will lead to a situation in which people will lose whatever little faith they have in governance and democracy.