BY ASKING his ministers and senior bureaucrats to cut down on foreign junkets, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is following aproud tradition of politicians, even wellmeaning ones like him, becoming subjects of jokes, if not objects of ridicule. The PMO circular saw ministers like Ambika Soni, Renuka Chowdhury, Murli Deora, Mani Shanker Aiyar canceling their tours which were probably planned when the price of crude was under US$ 100 abarrel and inflation was yet to touch five per cent. Some others could not entirely resist the travel bug and so hopped to destinations closer home than to distant shores. But the frequent flyer in Kamal Nath continued undeterred. The Commerce Minister took off for the US, presumably to prepare for the next WTO meeting which will probably be in Doha, Qatar. Not all of them were so brazen. One minister, kept his tongue firmly in his cheek while drafting aletter to Manmohan. It read thus: “Dear Manmohan Singhji, in deference to your austerity drive, Ihope everyone in the Cabinet will take your advice and avoid unnecessary expenditure. Ihave decided not to travel abroad for official or personal purposes and Ihope my move helps in containing inflation". He has not dispatched the letter so far, but will do so if inflation keeps shooting up and reaches 10 per cent, which is not far away.