Tuesday, September 22, 2009
austerity and ministers
The finance minister has done well to ask his ministerial colleagues, S M Krishna and Sashi Tharoor to shift out from the five star hotels where they have been staying since assuming the ministerial berths. Of course, both have complied with the suggestion of the senior colleague immediately. They seem to have checked out with a sense of embarrassment and not with any qualms or guilt. While S M Krishna had tried to justify his action by saying that the house allotted to him was under some repairs and he had made some private arrangement, the junior minister said that he was not spending people’s money and he was spending his savings. No doubt, as a former UN diplomat he can well afford the luxury. The point is that if ministers stay in 5 star hotels and indulge in luxuries, it sends wrong signals, even if they burn their own money or private money. Imagine what kind of impression it would create if Prime minister moves out and starts staying in a star hotel. If the minister for external affairs had not resorted to 5 star hotel, his deputy too would not have ventured to do it. He simply followed the style of his boss. Star hotels are for stars and cricketers, not the ministers, whether paid by exchequer or self cheque. Both are excellent individuals with sparkling background and it will be a tragedy if they are to at the receiving end because of these small frills.