Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Get on with it you tokens of austerity

What has come of this land? We were promised the women’s reservation bill, weeding out of corruption and all round development. And all of a sudden we are faced with the austerity drive. I even had to check it up to make sure that I had the meaning correct. The Cambridge online dictionary puts it such, “the condition or policy of living without things that are not necessary and without comfort, with limited money or goods, or a practice, habit or experience that is typical of this.” It is another thing that I am convinced that what is being practiced now by some ministers in the UPA government in India are far from austerity. But even if we were to say that it is, one would have to examine the need for such austerity in India.

What then is the background of this austerity drive? The recession of course! Companies are falling, shares lie flat (although the trend has been reversed to an extent and India has not collapsed like other countries), jobs are being lost and real estate is not seeing a bubble burst but a bubble being sucked in to it’s place.

But why austerity in India? Tokenism would be a nice way to put it. We put offerings to show our love and respect to God, a whole nation screams in excitement when Sachin bends his knees after a boundary, a whole bus load of people go to see off someone at the railway station or airport. So many, that the majority of people are not travelers but revelers. Oh yes the excitement and the passion is definitely there but so is the tokenism. We all want to show something to someone.

I wonder whether the present austerity drive is a part of this show. A token which will not make much of a difference to the lives of millions of people in this country! Rahul Gandhi may be doing it in all honesty (who knows!) but the security risk he thus poses to himself and to others in the process is another matter all together. How is this going to be sustained in a country like India where ordinary passengers do not themselves travel safely?

To say that the recession woke us up to austerity is a spat on the face to the Indians we don’t get to see on television screens and in heated debates. In a country like India which ranks 88th among 159 countries in the corruption index, what is austerity going to do? In a place where dalits are still beaten up and denied their rights does it matter who travels by what? In a culture where women are looked down upon and kept away who cares which one is more austere than the other? So pull up your socks mates and save the tokenism, if that’s what you are up to. If not, keep it going as though it’s a way of life and get creative. There’s a lot to do for the people of this country!

No comments: