No sir, India’s poor don’t wear suits by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (May 22, 2015)

How many of us can afford a Rs 10 lakh suit? I think no Indian can do it, except the Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi, who claims to be the son of a chai wallah?

Another question, “Where did the PM get the money barely a few months into his job?” No answer. Let us suppose somebody gifted it to him. But, what was that person expecting from him in return? No answer.

This gives rise to another question: “Can a prime minister legally bestow a largesse on someone out of the country’s resources?” The clear answer is that no prime minister has got the authority to do so. Then, how to account for the large-heartedness of the gift giver? Hmm! No idea.

Finally, why should anyone buy a Rs 10 lakh suit for Rs 4 crore in an auction? People who have got that kind of money are nobody’s fools. They expect a return on every rupee they spend on everything, be it PR, political liaison, even charity. So, what does this second generous man expect? Frankly, no idea. But this much is sure that any return gift will be at the cost of the people, from resources that belong to them. These are the issues of “suit-boot” that Rahul Gandhi has been raising for sometime, questions to which there are no authentic, official answers.

After a long wait we have got an “answer” to some of these questions from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkiah Naidu. He tried to answer these questions in an interview on May 19. However, it turned out to be a non-answer as instead of replying to the query, he put a counter question: “Can’t the poor wear suits?”

Dressed in a dark terrywool bandgala suit at the height of summer, when the entire northern plains are getting baked under a blazing sun and most Indians, not just the poor, are spending sleepless nights in sweltering heat. Mr Naidu should look around, taking off his dark glasses. He would find that even the well-off people are not wearing suits, much less terrywool bandgala suits.

At any given time the poor are not wearing clothes costing more than Rs 300, on an average. And as far as Rs 10 lakh suits are concerned, even Mr Adani, Mr Ambani, Mr Birla and Mr Tata are not wearing them. Show us a poor Indian in “suit-boot” and we will show you a liar.

Mr. Naidu’s remark is a cruel joke on India’s poor. This is like the French queen telling poor people that if they did not have bread to eat they should switch on to cakes, as if those who cannot afford a loaf of bread can afford cake. We know that the queen’s kingdom’s end began with this foolish remark. Mr Naidu would be better advised not to talk about India’s poor in a terrywool bandgala suit at the height of summer.


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