The Bogus Austerity Drama (BAD) has so far been confined to a) S.M. Krishna and Shashi Tharoor moving out of their five-star Rs 1.5 lakh-a-day suites, b) Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee travelling economy class, c) Rahul Gandhi taking the Shatabdi, and d) a flood of drought-inspired sanctimony all over.
But the dictionary tells us that austerity is not just about hotel rooms and flight tickets. And it can’t just be about the Congress and its leaders. In its truest form, austerity needs to be a pan-national phenomenon in which everybody, everywhere, does less more even if it costs more to do less.
As Sarojini Naidu is said to have remarked about Mahatma Gandhi: “It costs a lot to keep him poor.”
Here are the top-10 austerity claims we hope to hear soon.
1) Narendra Modi: “Bhaiyon aur behenon, thanks to the lafda, what you urban, English-wallahs call kerfuffle, over the abrupt termination of oxygen intake by Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan, I promise Vibrant Gujarat will have fewer fake encounters to protect its asmita. Or your trishul back, sharpened.”
2) Mukesh Ambani: “Arre baba, if nimma Nandan Nilekani who is worth 1.3 billion dollars has to shift to Karnataka Bhavan as part of the austerity drive, you think I am so greedy as to not respect my neighbours wishes and knock out the bottom-two floors of my ready-to-occupy, 2 billion-dollar, 27-storey mansion?”
3) B.S. Yediyurappa: “In the name of development and governance, as per the honourable wishes of our poojya former future prime minister, I will have one Reddy less breathing down my neck. And I will ask them to use a helicopter pool instead of flying into Bellary individually whenever they feel like eating biryani.”
4) Arundhati Roy: “Instead of 6,000 word essays which I impose on Indians twice a year, I will impose 3,000 word essays on Indians eight times in two years, which is the same thing, of course, so I will get the systems wallahs to reinsert the “Wordcount” button I had gotten removed. No wait, ‘gotten’ is American imperial English, the “Wordcount” button I had got removed.”
5) Arun Shourie: “Instead of a 5-part series on Alice in Blunderland, Humpty-Dumpty and Tarzan which even I don’t understand, I promise to write a one-part series which even you won’t understand, but you will be too ashamed to admit that you didn’t understand because I quoted the great ascetic Swami Vivekananda with Edward Rice Burroughs in all CAPS bold with triple asterisks***, footnotes¼ and accent gravuresˆ to leave you confused to the power of ∞.”
6) Nayantara: “Since the well-meaning folk at churumuri want the world to do “less more”, I promise to wear “more less” clothes in my next Telugu film, ‘Noovu isthe, nenu tees konta‘” so that there is more fabric left to cover the uncovered masses in drought-affected Andhra Pradesh.”
7) Namitha: “The men are going in for six-pack abs. The women are going in for size zero. You look at me (go on, look at me) and you tell me honestly where I should start to do my bit for the country, and I will dutifully oblige. Let’s make it a totally interactive exercise. After all, I was born in the vibrant state of Gujarat which produced the great Mahatma whose interactive programmes won us freedom.”
8) Sagarika Ghose: “I will reduce fazing the nation with my hi-decibel, St Stephen‘s rat-a-tat which even the class teachers of Ishan and Tarini are saying they can no longer comprehend anything because they don’t know where the main clause ends and where the subclause begins, especially when Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Gurudas Dasgupta are all trying to sneak in a word between the end of the second sentence and the beginning of the third one, by which time we have to go for a short commercial break, while you watch the lively website ibnlive.com, you keep on voting, while we keep on counting.”
9)Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Gurudas Dasgupta: “As part of the austerity drive, we promise to be a little less economical with the hair-splitting.”
10) Ambarish: “I will take less, work more. I will take less, work more. I will work less, take more. I will work less, take more. I will take less, work more. I will take more, work less.”