Two headlines from The Hindu dated Aug 22, 2010. One headline says that the MPs will get their demand for a higher salary than the proposed one, higher by Rs 10,000 in the basic scale. The other headline says that the petrol prices may go up again, the umpteenth time since the current govt came to power. “The poor shall always be with you,” says the Bible.
Not even the eagle can scale the heights of human greed for wealth. The Members of the Indian Parliament (MP) seem determined to prove it. They are demanding a monthly salary that is beyond the reach of most Indians.
The revised pay structure of the MPs gives them a monthly salary of over Rs 150,000, a sum that most of their subjects will earn in a year perhaps. According to the new pay scale of the MPs will receive a basic salary of Rs 50,000, office expense allowance of Rs 40,000, constituency allowance of Rs 40,000 and daily allowance of Rs 2,000 when Parliament is in session. There are about 150 days a year when the Parliament is in session, which means an average of 12 days per month and that means Rs 24,000 per month. Add all these to get a monthly salary of Rs 154,000 per month. Add to that allowances such as Travel allowance for the MP and his spouse both by flight and train, phone calls worth over Rs 10,000 per month, rent free palatial accommodation in Delhi, interest-free loans, taxi fare at the rate of Rs 16 per km from and to the nearest airport when the MP is on duty, etc. The amount is astronomical by the Indian standard. But our MPs are not satisfied.
The MPs are demanding a basic salary of Rs 80,001. That one rupee in the amount is significant. The logic is that the basic salary of the MPs must be at least one rupee more than that of the highest paid government employee. After all, how can the king accept wages less than any of the subjects?
Today the MPs are demanding that their salary cannot be less than that of any government employee. What if tomorrow they demand that their salary should not be less than any citizen of the country? Let us not forget that we have 49 dollar billionaires in the country whose salaries or monthly incomes will be quite a charm for our MPs.
I wonder why our MPs fail to look at the other side of the Indian reality. 27 per cent of the world’s poor live in India. The country has about 300 million people who cannot afford even proper meals every day. The farmers are committing suicide in large numbers….
Who wants to see such sordid things when there are lucrative things to look at?
It is quite sure that the MPs are going to get what they are demanding, or at least almost. Politics is the most lucrative profession (or business) in India today, it seems. A man like Suresh Kalmadi abandoned a promising career as a pilot and entered politics. In the three decades of his political career he has amassed wealth enough for a few generations. Not content with that he has swindled millions of rupees from the funds associated with the Commonwealth Games.
Kalmadi is not an exception. In fact, he is one of our MPs who did not have a criminal background. 150 MPs in the current parliament are criminals of whom 73 face very serious charges. What shall we expect from them?