of long legs and state-of-the-art gyms

The austerity debate has been going on for too many days! For the past week we have been treated or should I say subjected to innumerable debates and parleys on whether Members of Parliament and others in so called power should fly economy or business. Innumerable tweets and blogs have been written on the subject.

The debate seemed to have been triggered off by news of two Ministers living in 5 star hotel suites pending availability of their Luytens bungalow that were being spruced off. And before one knew it the battle had boiled down to business versus economy class travel and the ensuing parleys laughable: one dignitary talked of his long legs while the other of his need for a state-of-the-art gym. Well my dear Sirs, have you forgotten that you belong and represent a land where there are millions who go to sleep hungry without a roof on their heads. That a whole week was needed to discuss whether one should travel in one class or another is frivolous. It is just matter of status symbol as in fact both classes get you from point A to point B in exactly the same time barring the fact that one saves a little of the tax payer's money.

The austerity debate should have led to some serious soul searching about whether each one was discharging his of her duties in the best manner possible. It should have led to course corrections in functioning and delivering. I have often held that if all government projects and schemes delivered 50% of what they promised, India would be a different country altogether. A simple scheme like the ICDS launched in 1975, that is 34 years ago, would have taken care of malnutrition and immunisation for millions of children. And the list is endless.

We cannot be fooled anymore by cosmetic actions like the ones proffered in the on-going debate. We have earned the right after six decades of independence to be taken seriously. I was shocked by the tone and words of a political party spokesperson when he said on national TV that he was willing to travel in the cargo hold if he were given the permission! This is not a game dear Sir. If the government has felt the need to talk austerity, it is because the country is facing a severe crisis and we expect our representatives to behave in a befitting manner.

No one would grudge first class travel to anyone, if all else was going well. We are fed up to see our so called leaders waste precious time on frivolous debates.