"Austerity - Understanding & Practicing it"

"Austerity - Understanding & Practicing it!"
by: P.T. Choudary, Chairman

Quotations for consideration:

  • “One person’s Austerity may yet be another person’s Ostentatiousness.” - Anon
  • “There is no austerity equal to a balanced mind, and there is no happiness equal to contentment; there is no disease like covetousness, and no virtue like mercy.” - Chanakya
  • "It does not matter how much we have, as we cannot do much to change what we have. But we can certainly change the way we use what we have, as what really matters is what we do with what we have. A chess pawn, if used well, will become a Queen." -T.T. Rangarajan.
  • “There must be a reason why some people can live well. They must have worked for it. I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things that we could use.” - Mother Theresa. (See “Equality for All or All are Equal”)

Key Concepts:

  • What is Austerity – Asceticism or Miserliness or Parsimony or Frugality or Thriftiness? Perhaps we should first understand what Austerity is NOT!
  1. Asceticism – Severe self denial of social life and of all comforts by doing without what one does not have or having, but forsaking it all. Can even include self mortification. This is obviously NOT Austerity and is not for social people.
  2. Miserliness or Stinginess:- Denying to oneself and to others the ordinary comforts or even necessities of life, for the sake of hoarding. Even this is obviously NOT Austerity and again is not for social people.
  3. Parsimony: - Excessive and unreasonable saving just for the sake of saving. This too is NOT Austerity and once again is not for social people.
  4. Frugality: - Saving by exercising economy, by wise and sparing use and careful administration of the means at one’s disposal. When exalted into being a virtue to be pursued for its own sake, becomes the vice of Parsimony. Within limits this is good but only reflects a slight touch of Austerity.
  5. Prudence: - Prudence that plans and providence that acts - is looking far ahead and sacrificing the present for the future, saving as much as may be necessary for that end. This too is good but it is only a part of what Austerity is.
  6. Thriftiness: -At once earning & saving with a view to wholesome and profitable expenditure at an appropriate future time. This too is good but again is only part of what Austerity is.

Now let us try and understand what Austerity really is - Exercising strict Frugality, well short of Parsimony, incorporating the concepts of Prudence, Providence and Thriftiness.

Austerity - Can it be described as living within a Budget without reducing standards? Austerity is a Principle which is admirable and those who properly practice it worth emulating.

The Operative word here is ‘Properly’, because Austerity is much more than mere cost cutting. It is an attitude of mind that leads you into managing better with less. Practical Austerity must not be confused

Total votes: 0


For some time now I was just wondering if I would ever come across good articles like these. Is austerity akin to creativity? I may not quote big names, but then there is this GUY upstairs, and I can’t but think of Him. The debate – which came first the egg or the fowl has still to be resolved. I mean, give an eco system and and let a creature grow there. We always get a highly evolved creature that has come to make best of the resources around and evolved into a viable entity. This GUY upstairs is amazing. If a single celled creatures could make the best of what they are given, why not the highly evolved man. we have seen he did. Gandhiji was austere. The Queen lived a life of opulence. She had to give in, in front of Gandhiji.(My History of the Raj is pretty rusty). Austerity does give strength. Why are these Islamic terrorist so motivated, despite their hard life styles? Despite the ritual fasting of the holy month? And we often read of the celebs who rose to glory despite the lack of resources, like Gabriela Sabatiny who went on to become a Tennis star. The survival of Sakuni on a 100 rice grains. These are extreme cases of austerity and creativity. We have right under our noses, parents with a complete cash handicap go ahead with creating a proper opportunities for their children. Austerity or creativity whatever one wants to call it, needs a goal and motivation and discipline to stick to it.

Dear Major Choudary, This is in line with your yesterday’s session on ‘Boom and Bust of Financial Cycles’ at HMA meet. It was really very insightful; especially the way you provided a ‘REAL’ root causes of the system failure in an easy-to-understand manner. Look forward to more such sessions in the time to come. I personally am one of the strictest non-user of credit systems in all forms – credit cards, loans etc. – right from the day I started earning; the underlying reason behind this, would be my strong belief in the practical views of a saying ’stretch your legs according to the length of your bed-sheet’ I could not have agreed more with what you said on Austerity – ‘no compromise on quality’ should remain the focal point in any such drive. But then unfortunately many such drives are driven by publicity/image building intentions at the core and hence we observe farcical news items on them. Look forward to interact with you more on such interesting and wide ranging topics. Regards, Ghanshyam Gadhvi Result Oriented Intelligence (ROI), Hyderabad.

Dear Ghanshyam, I’m Glad you found something to think about in the Talk. You may like to read the other posts on this site for a different perspective on various other subjects. I do encourage an attitude of saving and investing the savings in secure ways. However I am also an advocate for encouraging people to try to learn to weave a longer ’sheet’, if you need one, by becoming an Entrepreneur. If everyone remained satisfied with the ’sheet’ they had then, where will progress come from? But plan carefully and go into whatever your Passion and aptitude takes you. Work at what you enjoy doing and all your work will no longer be work but only enjoyment. Best Wishes..P.T.

Tuhin Excellent Article.All of us to understand Austerity and practice in real life.our life would be quite satisfying with what ever God has given us by means of wealth and health,Probably we may help other needy persons. To practice austerity, we should have character and not going to compare with others way of living. Lastly your definition of austerity is appropriate.(Prudent, Frugal,Thrifty,&maintaining Standards)
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