Nehru on Austerity

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SOUTH ASIAN RESEARCH CENTRE FOR ADVERTISEMENT, JOURNALISM & CARTOONS

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....It is hardly necessary for me to draw your attention to the urgent necessity of the fullest economy and avoidance of waste both in our government and our private expenditure. It is clear that everything that involves any further foreign exchange must be stopped unless it is of vital significance. …I should like your government as well as every ministry at the centre to examine this question of economy very fully and to take effective measures to enforce it. There are many items of petty expenditure which may not amount to much but, taken as a whole, they do make a difference. Telegrams abroad will have to be restricted. …I find that there is considerable waste of electric power in many of our offices as well as homes. This deserves attention. We should avoid buying any motor cars and carry on with such as we have. Personally I think that there are far too many cars being used and we could, without any particular harm, reduce this number. I am merely mentioning some rather minor items that might be considered, because I am convinced that it is these minor items that we bring about an atmosphere of conducive to economy….It is desirable, however, in future not to build any such big houses for ministers or officials or indeed for anyone else. The status of a person does not depend on the size of the house he lives in. I have previously addressed you on the subject of avoidance of pomp and show, whether in residence or in traveling. This applies to all of us, including Governors. It is a matter to be considered how far some of the old customs and conventions appertaining to Raj Bhavan need to be changed, though it is always necessary to maintain a certain dignity there. All this has a public aspect, but there is also the private aspect of this question. This relates to our salaries and allowances…From the psychological point of view, there can be little doubt that an effective move on our part will be greatly appreciated by the public and will help in creating an atmosphere of austerity which we demand from others…
                                                                         (Letter from Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India to chief ministers. 5 June 1957)