Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: High Flying

High Flying - The Times of India

Editorial ()
26 November 1996

Title : High Flying
Author : Editorial
Publication : The Times of India
Date : November 26, 1996

Prime Minister H.D.Deve Gowda is rightly under fire for
travelling with his family when he went on official
business to Harare and Rome. Mr Gowda was accused of
misreading the G-15 meeting in Harare as licence to take
15 other Gowdas with him, and treating the Food Summit as
a Roman holiday for a smaller band of Gs. However, is
would be unfair to pillory Mr Gowda alone without turning
attention to some of the others who are maintained at
state expense and are having a whale of a time
undisturbed by public notice. Indian politicians are some
of the world's greatest travellers. Their grasp of travel
routes is way ahead of their knowledge on any other
subjects. Which explains why the shortest route for some
Commonwealth conference in Colombo from Delhi is
oftentimes via Sydney, London, Singapore, Paris or
Bangkok. Any meeting in Europe is invariably an excuse to
go on a junket to the United State or other countries,
regardless of the expense to the public exchequer. Be it
a holiday or business meeting, any outing for a politico
is almost always a pleasure trip - with family, if
necessary, and friends too, it possible. There is
virtually no public scrutiny of such junkets and rarely
is the question raised whether the tripes are necessary
at all. Ministers go abroad to study "issues" ranging
from how manhole covers are made and maintained in the
advanced countries to municipal administration and public
transportation. Given the political elite's proclivity to
journey, it is indeed amazing that no VIP thought of a
quick world tour to see how beauty contests are conducted
elsewhere to pick up tips for the Bangalore bash.

This virtual loot of the state exchequer in the name of
official visits has gone on for too long. The indignation
caused by a "humble farmer" aping the culture of less
humble non-farmers should be seized upon to turn the
searchlight on this scandalous political tradition. In
fact, there should be a white paper on foreign travel by
VIPs, ministers and all others who are living on state
expense. Mr Gowda, who perhaps feels that he is being
picked upon where his predecessors have got away with
much more, would be well advised to take the initiative
and make all the facts public. Such a white paper should
also look at the record of privileged political figures,
including Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who is living on government
expense and security. Not only does she herself travel
abroad a lot, but so do her children. In fact, friends
and relatives of the family are also learnt to be taking
advantage of the hospitality extended to Mrs Gandhi as
the window of a former Prime Minister. When her husband
was PM, he ignored all security and defence
considerations to holiday with his friends, including
unverified persons from abroad, in areas barred to the
public. National security was disregarded and government
resources were freely used by the foreign relatives who
are now untraceable. The frequency and sources of funding
for the Gandhi family's foreign travels need to be made

public because, if Mrs Sonia Gandhi has access to enough
private funds to have a jet-set lifestyle, there is no
reason why public funds should pay for her family's
travel. The time for transparency in VIP have has come.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements