Politics of Culture Of Austerity

The austerity debate has preoccupied our national consciousness. We all know that austerity drives save no money. But then that’s not the real point of such austerity measures. What is important is that austerity as a life style that now is being suggested by the top politicians and with such a suggestion, the culture of austerity acquires some interesting discourses of social power. There is a certain politics about being austere as there is a certain politics of being ostentatious.
The austere says that I give back more than I take; the ostentatious says why should I give at all when I can take. The austere says that we should not take in proportion to what we give because the privileged must help the less privileged to survive. The ostentatious says that no, I want to be paid for all that I have invested, after all I also have the desire to be like the very best. The austere says that use your time to think harder, the ostentatious says is philosophy any sexy? The austere says leave resources for the future generations, the ostentatious says, who has seen tomorrow?
The ostentatious is a new entrant in our politics. She never existed before the economic liberalization of 1991. She was freed from our inner most secret desires so that the acquisitive instincts would help all us accumulate more riches. The then Finance Minister and the present Prime Minister said how could we ever expect the slices of the pie to increase if the overall pie did not do so? So the capitalists, the speculators and the scamsters were let loose to create wealth that would trickle down to the rest of us. What naivety !!
Income inequality increased, divide in access to education and health widened and the growth path left out many more to include only a few. The slices shrank despite the increase in the size of the pie. How could that happen?
The selfish, obscene culture of being rich created the category of the ostentatious. This category thought nothing of the fact that the speculators were hoarding food, that Satyam walked off with sharholders’ money and the society’s jobs, saw nothing wrong in taking away farmers’ lands in a failing food economy and thought these to be actually smart. This category is the Ravana of the modern age, who the Congress desperately wants to contain by invoking the austere. Lets see who wins this Dussherah, the austere or the ostentatious!

About secondsaturn

Independent Scholar. Polymath.
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