MPs’ Salary and other Perquisites

R.D. Bhardwaj
The salaries of the Members of Parliament have been initially increased from Rs. 16,000/- to Rs. 50,000/- on the 20th August, 2010 and Constituency Allowance from Rs.20,000/- to Rs. 40,000/-, Secretarial Allowance from Rs. 5,000/- to Rs. 10,000/- and Daily Allowance from Rs. 1,000/- to Rs. 2,000/- per day. Surprisingly, most of MPs were not happy with this three-fold increase and continued building pressure on Govt. to further hike it to substantial level. Astonishingly, all MPs except MPs of CPI were very critical of this three-fold increase and termed it minimal and voiced their concern that it should be better enhanced to Rs. 80,000/-. It is also a matter of astonishment that all the MPs were so quick to respond and unanimous in their approach to reward themselves with fabulous hike, that they stalled the proceedings of the Parliament over this matter. They refused to accept this fabulous increase and extracted an assurance from the Finance Minister that he would take-up the matter with the PM. Later on, the Finance Minister discussed up the matter with the Prime Minister and thus, finally their wages were enhanced by another Rs. 10,000/- and likewise, all other allowance were also enhanced liberally, thereby making an MP to take home Rs. 1.45 lakh every month, which is around 3.75 times hike over their previous salary. In addition to it, they are also entitled to hundreds of free rail and air fares every year. Their pension has also been increased from Rs. 8,000/- to Rs. 20,000/-. This increase will cost the national exchequer an additional burden of Rs. 108 crores per annum.

Taking a clue from the MPs, Delhi Govt. has also doubled the salaries of its MLAs and sent the proposal to the Lieutenant Governor, putting an additional burden of Rs. 4.00 crores. Now other States will not lag behind in enhancing the salaries of their MLAs on the same footings. It is a pity that when common men are reeling under the phenomenal price rise of all the essential commodities, instead of ameliorating their sufferings, government has increased the salaries of MPs and MLAs overnight. It is another matter that, in Delhi, 57 CGHSs are ready for the last 4/5 years and their managing committees have approached RCS and Delhi Govt. many a time for conducting their draw of lots for more than 6,000 flats, but the same is being delayed on one pretext or the other. Concerned authorities have become just insensitive to the problems and sufferings of the more than 6,000 society members.

It is quite relevant to mention here that the wages of the bank employees were increased in the 1st week of April this year by just 17.50% and this meagre hike could be achieved after a long and arduous struggle spanning over 30 months, out of which many a time they had to resort of strikes and their wages were cut for the period of strikes. Not only that fresh option for giving pension to the employees was accepted by the IBA only after the trade unions agreed for the deduction of 30% of the employees’ contribution also to the provident fund subscription. Nowhere in the history of the government employees, have their salaries been increased the way these MPs and MLAs have got theirs. It would have been certainly better and more rational if the Govt. had constituted a commission which could have studied the matter by keeping in mind the rate of inflation and then recommended for revising the same. But the way MPs and MLAs have rewarded themselves with such a lavish hike, looks like nothing short of grabbing the tax payers’ money, the majority of which is suffering under the burden of inflation, particularly for the last one year. Another question which comes to mind is that – have these politicians been ever sensitive to the plight of the people whom they represent? Do they ever realise the woes and sufferings of public and so eager to solve their problems that they have rewarded themselves which such a fantastic increase ? The answer to this question is “an emphatic No.” If you conduct a survey on the performance of these MPs and MLAs, you will find that not more than 10% of the people will be satisfied in their constituencies.

More than 90% of the MPs / MLAs do not turn-up and listen to the problems of their electorates after winning elections. This is a hard fact of their behaviour and attitude towards their electorates, more particularly after the death of late PM, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. That is why even after 64 years of independence, still there are thousands of villages where roads have not been made, streets do not have proper lights, people lack medical facility, 50% of the children do not get education beyond school level, old-age pension is not being provided to more than 50% of the eligible villagers, people do not get clean drinking water, there are thousands of villages where ladies have to walk one or two kms to fetch drinking water, particularly in Orissa, Rajasthan and Nagaland. Power supply the rural areas is still very erratic and the people are forced to make use of kerosene lamps, proper and covered drainage system is still a mirage not only in the villages, but also in the small cities and towns. During the rainy season like the current one, banks of most of the rivers are breached / broken and the over-flowing rivers cause huge damage to the life and properties, as hardly 10% of the rivers are cemented and their banks raised. Apart from this, another factor that becomes a major cause of floods every year is that – river beds should be dredged and made deeper by culling out extra soil which gets settled down there after every rainy season. But, sadly enough, this work is not undertaken and that is why, the plight of most of rivers is almost the same; whether it flows through Punjab, Haryana, UP, Jharkhand or Bihar. No doubt, crores of funds are allocated every year for cleaning of the major rivers by dredging and culling out the garbage etc., but this work is undertaken on papers only. Practically speaking, fate of all the rivers, which are our eternal source of water needs for so many purposes, remains more or less the same. If this work is done and the funds earmarked for the said purpose are utilised honestly and properly, I do not think that any river will then cause floods and damages worth crores of rupees. Millions causes of extra water which flows during the splurging rainy season shall also be utilised to the maximum benefit of mankind and to meet the industrial and agricultural requirements.

The basic cause of such a sickening malady is that – instead of taking timely decisions and implementing them in true sense of letter and spirit, problems are kept lingering on for years together. Even when some decision is taken at a later date, it is taken not keeping in mind the interest of the common people or for the society as whole, but by keeping in mind as to what is politically convenient / beneficial to the leader or the party in power.

Secondly, I remember when late PM, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was in power, in one his speeches he lamented that out of every single rupee which the Central Govt. sanctions for the big projects, just 16 paise reach the real beneficiary and rest all 84 paise just go into the pockets of so many leaders and officers at different levels. Who is responsible for such a high level of pilferage of money, resulting in corruption, scams and kick-backs etc.? Needless to mention here that like every kind of discipline, financial discipline also flows from top to bottom. If our leaders are men of exemplary courage, honesty and integrity, senior bureaucrats and other officers shall also follow their traits. And mind it, reverse is also equally true. That is why, there is such a large spread of corruption in every sphere of life and the maximum amount of black money in Swiss Banks (Rs. 1,86,000 crores) belongs to India amongst all the nations of the world. And sadly enough, in spite of such a grim and alarming situation, nothing substantial is being done to curtail corruption and financial irregularities within India and also bring huge wealth from the Swiss banks back to the people. The reason is simple, in reality there is hardly any leader of such a mature calibre who can catch the bull by its horns and tame it to the maximum benefit of people of India. IPL and Commonwealth Games 2010 are the latest glaring examples of such high level of corruption prevailing and eating into the vitals of our society.

6th Pay Commission Report was accepted by the Central Govt. in August 2008 and the Central Government employees have also been paid arrears on account of their wage revision. But, there are still some states Govts. like Bihar, Jharkhnd, MP and J&K etc. who have not implemented the same even after two years and the employees of these states feel as if they have been cheated by their own representatives. Then how did these MPs and MLAs got their salaries increased lavishly without giving a small hike to their employees? It speaks volumes of their intention and treatment of people whom they represent. It has become just a ritual amongst the today’s politicians to pay obeisance to Mahatma Gandhi on 30th January and 2nd October every year, but practically they have reduced the noble profession of service of common people to a simple business proposition; where they enjoy a lot of power, pelf, facilities and perquisites with least sense of responsibility. The irony of fate is that, there also no provision for the “recall” of such non-performing public representatives. Gone are days when great visionary leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, JL Nehru, Sardar Patel, Dr. BR Ambedkar, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Mrs. Indira Gandhi used their political acumen to the service of the people. Now-a-days, these politicians work on the principal of “Me First and My family First”. Unless this trend is reversed, India’s dreams of becoming a fully developed nation at par with USA, UK, Germany, France, China and Australia, shall remain a mirage only and these rich nations shall continue to make a mockery of one billion plus Indians.

The fate of around 40 % of our population which lives below poverty line, cannot be turned around in such a scenario. Today we need “no non-sense men” and leaders and bureaucrats who have calibre, honesty and integrity like those of T.N. Seshan, G.R. Khairnar, K.J. Alphonse, Beant Singh, E. Shridharan, Julio Ribeiro, A.S. Vaidya and Swami Ramdev ji etc., who, on one hand, can have the guts to punish the guilty, and on the other, bring all round development, progress and prosperity to all the corners of India, without any impartiality and thereby, take India at par with other developed nations around the globe. The class of self-seeking politicians do not deserve to be in power any more.