It must have been the appraisal season effect that our MPs decided to demand a 100 per cent pay hike and increase in their facilities and allowances. Before we start dissecting the need for these demands and their emoluments, one fact regarding the current Lok Sabha: 82 per cent of its MPs are crorepatis and average worth of an MP is Rs 14.70 crore. Poor increment-deprived lot!
Apparently, as they scramble for more pay and perks our poor-rich MPs forgot to look at their salary slips. A peek: Rs 1.4 lakh a month including their salary, constituency allowance and office expenses. Going by an average Indian's salary for 2014-15, as projected by the central statistics office, members of Parliament earn about 27 times more than an aam aadmi. One can argue that the lawmakers have much difficult task at hand, but then they enjoy many privileges of the job including a rent-free bungalow in Lutyens' zone, daily allowance when Parliament is in session, security, free air tickets, railway passes, road allowances, medical facilities etc which lesser mortals don't get.
Now back to the point, news reports indicate that the government was presented with 65 demands, 50 per cent of which have been rejected. Given the nature of some demands, critics would look at it as a desire for elevated status and power and not just a hefty pay cheque.
There doesn't appear any other valid reason to demand a car for travel outside Delhi, better facilities at airports, or medical facilities for their children and grandchildren.
Pay hike demands have also got support from some quarters. Rightly so. After all, why should lawmakers be deprived of a periodic raise when other government, and private sector employees, enjoy it. It's completely logical to not be biased against MPs' salaries just because they get to sit in the Parliament and enjoy enviably cheap food in its canteen. But then wouldn't it be even more logical to talk about performance-linked pay rise over a fixed amount and facilities? I am sure this suggestion would meet outright rejection on the part of the ones clamouring for a hike.
Even in an inflation-struck scenario their pay and perks are not modest by any standards, considering the beneficiaries don't have to worry much about heavily discounted bijli-paani and telephone bills, rents or conveyance expenses. Even their curtains and sofa covers get washed for free! The cost of these perks would be much more than the not-so-modest monthly salaries. This should pretty much make up for their blood, toil, tears and sweat. Apparently, it hasn't.
As far as the issue of an increase in pensions for ex-MPs is concerned, the fact that even a few days in the Parliament entitles MPs for lifelong monthly pension and other retirement benefits should be enough to establish that it is beyond the limits of fairness.
A fair pay revision mechanism may be required for lawmakers too but that should be done by a neutral body. MPs making these demands doesn't cut a very pretty picture, rather it just highlights their desire of being a cut above the aam aadmi.