Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why Our MPs Deserve More

People look at the five fold salary hike of MPs with cynicism. They find it unjust that MPs are placing themselves over the civil service. But, if you look at it objectively, you will find that the decision makes sense. An MP has several expenses, which many meet from their own pockets. Low salaries would only lead to more incentives for corruption. If we want to attract better talent to politics, we should pay them accordingly, writes Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express.

Read the whole article:

"The unanimous proposal of a joint committee of Parliament to award MPs a five-fold salary hike, from Rs 16,000 to Rs 80,001, has seriously offended a section of the middle class. Some suggest cynically that there is nothing in a parliamentarian’s performance to justify this demand. Others snigger at politicians placing themselves in the same salary slab as the top ranks of the civil service. "

"Despite the general scepticism, however, when one looks objectively at the figures, it is justifiable for our MPs to expect a substantial pay hike. The concept that MPs are performing some sort of social service, which should not be compensated by payment at par with the general job market for skilled labour, is a hangover from the freedom struggle, a time when those who entered politics were generally motivated purely by idealism. "

"Today MPs have either to be rich, or peddle their influence. There is little room for an honest middle and lower-middle class MP to stretch his official income and perks to fulfil the numerous demands of his constituents, as well as to maintain his family. "

"In fact pegging salaries at unrealistic levels merely provides an incentive for corruption."

"One smart-alec suggestion which has cropped up is that if they want a pay hike, MPs should have to perforce sit through the day, rather than merely sign the register and pocket the daily allowance. A common grievance is that our legislators waste precious Parliament time in uproars and walk-outs and are usually absent during serious debates in the House. But today, the basic requirement for an MP is to be accessible to his constituents, helping resolve the myriad problems of the voters and working for the development of the constituency. Scoring debating points in Parliament has very little role in the decision-making process."

"The joint parliamentary committee on MPs’ emoluments fixed an MP’s wages at Rs 80,001, reasoning that they deserved at least one rupee more than a full secretary to the government of India, since they are the actual formulators of public policy, while bureaucrats are merely the implementers. Their work hours are longer than bureaucrats’, they argue. "

"Some, including the CPM and L.K. Advani, have reservations about MPs deciding on their own pay structure and have argued that such matters should be best left to a pay commission. While the ethicality of our MPs legislating to give themselves a raise is a valid question, almost no one raised an eyebrow when the IAS worked out a particularly sweet deal for itself under the Sixth Pay Commission, without cutting numbers. Our burgeoning bureaucracy illustrates the classic case of the fence eating the crop. In comparison, the proposed hike in MPs salaries would be a flea bite for our national budget."

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

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