Heard of term PDA? No it is not Public Display of Affection…at least not in India!
Of late our ruling party – Indian National Congress – has given an all new meaning to PDA and that is: Public Display of Austerity

First the ruling Congress party publicly asked two ministers to vacate 5 star hotel and move to modest homes. Then the young leader Rahul Ganhi joined the bandwagon and traveled chair car (economy class).

Here is a good article on this Great Austerity Race!
This whole episode also made it clear that the government seriously lacks ‘sense of humor’!

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is twittering to a growing fan club of about 5,000 followers.
On his page on Twitter, Tharoor was asked: “Tell us minister, next time you travel to Kerala, will it be cattle class?”

His reply: “Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows.”

I liked the reply, there was nothing mocking/ insulting in it…in fact Tharoor showed a sense of humor which is so rare for an Indian politician.

But his party did not. It has openly expressed its disapproval of his latest remarks on Twitter. The Congress said his remarks were “unacceptable and totally insensitive”. “These remarks are unacceptable given the sensitivity of all Indians and not in sync with our political culture,” Congress spokesperson said. “Thousands of people travel by economy class.”

Anyways, that raised another question in my mind and the reason is a totally different piece of news that came out at around same time. It was the inaugeration of Infosys’ world-class training facility, Global Education Center 2 (GEC II) at Mysore campus. And guess who was the chief guest – Ms. Sonia Gandhi, the party president of the Congress party that is going gung-ho about this Public Display of Austerity.

Here is brief description about Infosys’ GEC:

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tyle=”text-align:justify;padding-right:3px;”>“Infosys’ Global Education Center is the largest corporate education center in the world. Located in the 337 acre Infosys Mysore campus, the total capacity of the center has been enhanced to educate 14,000 (GEC I – 4,500 and GEC II – 9,500) Infoscions. Infosys’ total investment in the Mysore center is Rs. 2,055 crore of which Rs. 350 crore has been invested in construction of Software Development Blocks and related services and Rs.1,705 crore on education and training related infrastructure. With a built-up area of 440,735 sq ft., GEC I has 52 training rooms, 183 faculty rooms and a state of art library that can accommodate 60,000 books. The Global Education Centre which is inaugurated today has a built up area of 1,002,095 sq. ft. GEC II has eighty four 100 seater, three 200 seater, six 60 seater and two 36 seater class rooms,5 examination halls and 302 faculty rooms. It also has an induction hall which can seat 400 trainees, state of art library which can accommodate 80,000 books, MC room with a capacity of 40 seats with acoustically designed walls. The seating capacity of the cyber café is 236. The campus is home to participants of the foundation program. There are seven food courts that can cater to approximately 10,871 people at any given time. These multi-cuisine food courts offer various cuisines ranging from South Indian to continental food.

Wow! Simply amazing!!!

Now one might ask why is this piece being put together with the austerity drive? The reason is, and those who know Infosys would agree with me, that if there is one organization in the Indian corporate world that can stake a claim to ‘austerity’ it is Infosys! Surprised???

Let me explain…Infosys has always espoused ‘middle-class’ values and has been very vocal about it (in spite of all its growth over the years)…the founders still come across as simple, approachable people and they (especially Narayana Murthy) practise ‘austerity’…of course they don’t preach it!

Infosys has invested huge money in building world-class infrastructure, training-facility for young engineers, gym, sports complex, leisure, cafeteria etc. But they do spend for the benefit of all – not just for senior execs!

So even when Infosys opens a sprawling campus (like GEC) or an in-house Cricket/ Football stadium or build a private helipad so that its customers can visit Infy campus easily, nobody accuses Infosys of splurging money…and hence they don’t have to undertake ‘austerity drive’!

The obvious question I have is: Then why does the Congress party have to do this PDA stuff? Why do they need ‘austerity drive’ in the first place? And why now?

Anyways, anybody would understand the ‘politics’ behind it…but the big question is the taxpayers money that these ministers were burning all these years – was that not a theft/ robbery of India’s Aam Aadmi?

Let me end with Gandhiji’s view on austerity:

According to him – The idea of simplicity is “the deliberate and voluntary restrictions of wants” (Don’t know how the austerity ‘imposed’ or dictated by the Congress party fits with this ‘voluntary act’)

And his view on theft:

“It is theft to take something from another even with his permission, if we have no real need of it”

No comments!!! 🙂

~ Kaustubh

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