It all started with Shashi Tharoor staying in a five star hotel and not his state Bhavan. In my view he was right to stay where he did. In my view it is not just a question of the State Bhavan not having a gym. For many politicians (particularly those who are exposed to the West) it is difficult to stay in the State Bhavans because of the poor hygiene standards. It is common to find bed sheets stained with semen and boot polish, the bath rooms are also often unhygienic. The crockery used, the table tops and even the way some people eat and leave the left overs is also difficult for them to tolerate.
Was he sending a wrong message to the society? No. Why can’t a politician spend Rs 10,000 a day (of his own money) for healthy, hygienic living (the figures quoted of Rs 80,000 a day is for top of the line suites which I don’t think were being used). Having said that to be the “responsible politician” Shashi could have settled for a good three star hotel.
Of late if wrong messages have come they have come more from our industrialists. Even though I deeply admire our industrialists for the wealth they have generated, they are making grave mistakes in spending it. An 8000 crore house, a 2000 crore wedding! This is a callous and unwise display of wealth. Callous because you are spending that kind of money in the face of thirty crore people who don’t get a square meal. Unwise because, in the past, India has been known as Sone Ki Chidiya (The golden Bird). This bird was torn apart by other more powerful birds. This bird was raped and predated for a thousand years by invaders. By advertising your wealth so, do you wish to become a golden bird again? No. This time we should not be a”Sone ki chidiya”. We should be a ‘Sone Ka Baaj’ (a golden eagle)- no bird dares attack the eagle. So first develop the strength to guard the nation and then let some of your gold glitter (I know some display may be required from time to time to churn the economic wheels). But let us stop at that till we are strong. Otherwise we will attract predators once again. If we don’t wisen up we can be ecologically or economically colonized. We have already almost stopped getting the financial assistance which a poor and developing country like ours should get. Our brazen display of wealth is partly to blame for it. In fact I feel that every businessman and every politician or film star who spends like this should also contribute to the Missile development programme of the nation. And the Government should give proof that the programme is being efficiently managed.
It is good if the media has highlighted this news because
It tells the those who made these bhavans and those who maintain them, that even their own bretheren refuse to live in the facilities they have created for them as these have- as their other creations- turned out way below par. Hopefully the people who are responsible for the Bhavans will wake up and upgrade the facilities. Their clientele is changing, so should they. And if changing is not possible then the government should consider privatizing the state bhavans. Given the real estate prices today and given the misuse of these bhavans it might be actually more prudent to do so.
It will hopefully tell the public that how uncaring are we for the other person. Which is one of the primary reasons for poor levels of hygiene in India. It is a good message- It shows us the mirror.
If as a rebound the media is highlighting now the austerity drive that too is good. Even if it is a mask or a pretence (which I don’t think it is in all the cases) so what. The mask of austerity which the political rank and file are donning as their leadership is going austere, could eventually become its face. The mask often becomes the face. We look forward to that happening.
Have a nice week end & Happy Dussehra.