By Arati Nair:
Self-gratification is the hallmark of Indian politicians; the crying needs of the electorate are secondary in the grand scheme of things.
Even as the clamour for the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme grows louder, the privileged parliamentarians of our country are busy devising ideas to fatten their pockets. In a bid to ensure hefty paychecks, 40 MPs across party lines had signed a memorandum in May this year, seeking enhancement of salaries, perks and all emoluments. The parliamentary panel, looking into the matter, submitted its report with quite a few exorbitant recommendations. This is in addition to the subsidized, almost free, lunches they enjoy at the parliament canteen.
Following the last revision of pay and emoluments in 2010, the overall salary drawn by an MP was almost to the tune of Rs. 1,10,000 with 50,000 as basic pay and the rest as constituency and office allowance. This fell way short of the current Rs. 1,70,000 pay package of government secretaries, inclusive of DA. For elected representatives, being outdone by the bureaucratic elite was a bitter pill to swallow. The recommendations of the Joint Committee would be the clincher to undo such an anomaly.
What serves as a double whammy for the lesser fortunate working class, is the ease with which the proposal is presented before a Joint Committee and speedily tackled to cater to the whims of these law makers.
Our legislators suddenly woke up to the urgent need for a hike in pay after the salaries, particularly the dearness allowance (DA), of Secretaries to the Government of India increased due to inflationary adjustments in 2015. Armed with the freedom to manipulate rules governing their salary packages, these MPs are now hell-bent on competing with government servants. Some of the means put forth by the panel to achieve the same include a two-fold rise in the salary of sitting MPs and a 75 percent increase in pensions of those retired. Blowing the principles of austerity to the wind, they also demand a hike in the daily allowance which at present stands at Rs. 2000. This allowance is paid for attending the parliament, which does not require active participation in the day’s proceedings. A bodily presence is the sole criterion. Many a daily wage earners can only dream of such bonanzas being bestowed on them.
To add insult to injury, the committee brazenly reiterates the need for doles in modes of transport and health. To list a few:
These measures reek of a level of indulgence unbecoming of public servants. It is no wonder then that the blood petitions of our brave veteran soldiers, for equity in pay, are of little significance when pitted against the self-aggrandizement plans of our worthy parliamentarians. Hopefully, the tax-payers’ hard-earned money will soon fuel reforms after all the avarice of these MPs is satiated.