Rich MPs, Poor Indians
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Last Updated: Monday, August 23, 2010, 09:13
  
Rich MPs, Poor Indians Kamna Arora

The Union Cabinet has cleared a 300 percent salary hike for Members of Parliament, from current Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000. Not only this, the perks given to MPs have also been doubled. But the “minimal” hike has completely failed to appease our dear MPs, who sought Rs 80,001 salary per month as recommended by a parliamentary committee.
Money rules! It does, certainly. Politics has become a huge money-making business in India. According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the number of crorepati MPs has increased from 156 in 2004 to 315 in 2009.

The non-governmental organisation further noted in its report that the average worth of assets of an MP in the Lower House has increased from Rs 1.86 crore to Rs 5.33 crore in the last five years. How does the bank balance of our politicians go up when the living conditions of the poor and the common man continue to go down?

Just compare and contrast: There are more poor people in eight Indian states (421 million in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) than in the 26 poorest African countries combined (410 million). The statistics were revealed with the help of a new measure called the Multidimensional Poverty Index, which was developed and applied by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative with UNDP support.

In 2009, Vandana Shiva of NGO Navdanya had said that India has emerged as the world’s capital of hunger with 214 million hungry people.

More than 70% of India’s under-five children are anaemic.

The Tata Institute of Social Sciences noted last year that two out of three of India’s 1.1 billion people still live and work in rural areas and as many as 1,50,000 debt-hit farmers have killed themselves in the past decade. According to UNICEF, 665 million Indians don’t have access to toilets, so they defecate in public.

Skyrocketing food prices and surging inflation have further dashed the hopes of India’s ‘aam junta’.

Our politicians are unhappy with the salary hike and our citizens are dissatisfied with MPs’ performance. “Netas get salary, then they make under-the-table money with the help of the position they hold, then they get official allowances. They are robbing our taxes everyday, and we can’t do anything,” said a neighbour of mine, who was angry with the sad state of affairs of this country.

I am not against a pay hike for MPs. But some standards should be set for raising the salaries. According to the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), the per capita income, a measure of average income of a citizen, was recorded at Rs 37,490 per annum during 2008-09. The common man is not even entitled to free flights, first-class air-conditioned train travel, free accommodation and several other benefits as our politicians are.

It is interesting to note that the upcoming CWG in Delhi is in the news due to corruption, leaky stadiums, dodgy money transfers, inferior equipment. Have we ever wondered how our athletes are preparing for the games? Recently, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna had threatened to pull out of the Games because they were not paid for its preparations. The CWG was heard to be running out of funds. Despite this, politicians are less interested in sorting this issue, but to fill their own pockets.

Indian democracy has become the government of the RICH, by the POOR and for the MONEY.

First Published: Monday, August 23, 2010, 09:13


(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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