In India, A Different Kind Of Austerity | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

In India, A Different Kind Of Austerity

Play associated audio

In Europe, the concept of austerity has meant deep, painful cuts to government spending. In India, however, austerity looks a little different.

India's government has started by reeling in departmental spending on things like hotel space and foreign travel. It may seem like window dressing, but it can be difficult to make deep spending cuts in that country. Many voters see government largesse as a right and usually applaud pork-barrel spending.

Mihir Sharma, a columnist at the Business Standard newspaper, says the government is trying to combat poverty, malnutrition and other critical needs.

"A snotty-nosed 27-year-old analyst on Wall Street might be concerned that the government has not, in fact, announced a cut in entitlements of one kind or another," he said. "But the truth is that most of the entitlements that the government has handed out in the past 10-15 years are desperately needed."

Instead, he explained, the Indian people expect to see government departments tightening their own belts.

"What austerity actually does wind up meaning here is a very sort of strange Gandhian thing," Sharma added, referring to the philosophy espoused by the country's independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. "We want our leaders, and our government, to be demonstrating some sort of personal commitment to an austere lifestyle."

The government has also announced that it will cut 10 percent of discretionary spending, and that it will put a hiring freeze on the civil service. Analysts, however, say that's unlikely to make much of a dent in India's $91 billion deficit.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 22

You can attend a festival where nothing is planned, aside from the schedule, or see a play about temptation and loyalty.

NPR

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR's Scott Simon, it did not go well.
WAMU 88.5

Cuccinelli Claims PAC Shortchanged His Campaign

Cuccinelli

A lawsuit by Republican Ken Cuccinelli says a political action committee raised large amounts of money invoking his name in email solicitations despite giving only a pittance to his 2013 campaign.

WAMU 88.5

Cellphones In Class Are No Problem In One Maryland School District

An Eastern Shore school district is allowing teachers to treat students' cellphones, tables and laptops as a resource rather than a nuisance.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.