Austerity drive: No caviar, or costly biscuits on Air India One

      With austerity being the buzz word in Indian corridors of power, it seems, that every area of government-public interaction is being hit by the bug. News is already out that the Prime Minister's delegation has been pruned for his Group of Twenty trip to Pittsburgh via Frankfurt in Germany. That, it seems, is not enough! Staff on Air India One, the Prime Minister's official aircraft, were reportedly given advance instructions to trim the contents on offer in the official menu. Following the order to a tee, the staff did not serve expensive biscuits and eliminated caviar, but in a concession to the media accompanying the delegation, served all those on board the choicest of liquor en route to Frankfurt, where there will be an overnight halt. The UPA Government's austerity drive is being followed by the Prime Minister, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi. It is expected to be extended to all Members of Parliament (MPs) following an all party meeting, sources have said in the recent past. Vice President Hamid Ansari will call an all-party meeting to decide on the issue once Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar's returns from Rome, inside sources said. Following the top party leaders' much publicized economy class flights and train rides, the UPA had requested Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha chairpersons to convince all MPs to join the austerity drive. The Chairman of the Rajya Sahba and the Lok Sabha Speaker are expected to hold a discussion on the austerity drive. The move is to promote the austerity comes in the wake of the country experiencing a crippling drought. The Congress party has already advised its ministers and lawmakers to donate 20 percent of their salary towards draught relief. They have also been told to travel economy class and not hold press conferences in five-star hotels. Gandhians associated with the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad have lauded the initiative. The Gandhains, who themselves live a life of extreme simplicity, following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, said that if politicians lead a simple life, people would certainly follow in tune with the adage: Follow the leader. Amrut Modi, the managing trustee Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram, a staunch Gandhian himself, is a firm believer in Gandhi''s teaching of ''doing one''s work by oneself'', and professes it religiously. Appreciating the austerity drive of the government, he said that politicians through such measures inspire people towards leading a simple life, as the Mahatma did. "If simplicity is acquired, it can lead to change. Gandhiji himself had brought about change in the country. He prepared the people for independence and self-rule. The principle of simplicity is included in his teachings. He inspired the common man, through his simple life. Even today if our politicians adopt simplicity, then people will take inspiration from them," Modi said. Several other believers of Gandhi's teaching also said that simplicity could help the nation develop, and also set an example in front of the whole world. "The ministers should adopt Gandhiji''s principles and teachings pertaining to simplicity. This will help in the development of the country financially and otherwise and they can also send the message to the world, that how beneficial it can be to walk on Gandhiji''s principles," said Dhimant Badiya, another Gandhian.

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