India Insight

Luxury toilet row raises stink for Indian govt

Every morning, Dharma picks up a bottle of water and heads to a field to defecate. His wife goes to a public toilet nearby. The 29-year-old cobbler has been living and working in India’s capital for over ten years now, but he still does not have a toilet in his house. Just like millions of Indians.

The employees of the Planning Commission, a government agency, are luckier. They can unburden their bowels in toilets that have been refurbished with a budget of 3 million rupees ($55,000). An additional 500,000 rupees ($9,000) has been spent in installing a security system that ensures only those with a “smart card” can enter.

The expenditure has some politicians and activists up in arms, with members of opposition parties calling it “shocking”.

On Twitter, both anger and amusement were expressed as “Rs 35“, a reference to the total expenditure of 35 lakh rupees (approx $63,000), started trending.

“From today onwards #Planning comm can be renamed as ‘Potty commission’” says @Ahmedshabbir20

Mr Pranab Mukherjee, did we hear ‘austerity’?

India is going through a rough patch. The common man knows it, foreign investors know it and so does our government.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also one of the contenders for the post of president, has been trying his best to clear the air and restore the confidence to get the economy back on track.

In his recent Parliament speech, after he delayed the controversial GAAR norms, Mukherjee said new ‘austerity measures’ will be announced to aid the fiscal consolidation process.