There is a message doing the rounds in social media for some time now that calls for stopping the pension of MPs and stopping them giving self-raise in salaries. To make it seem more relevant, the message has the title ‘Reform Act 2014’ . A small search on the internet makes it evident that this item has been circulating since 2012-13 as an email, before it became popular in Whatsapp, the popular mobile messenger. If you still haven’t received this message in the form of a message or an email yet, let’s give a lowdown on the item and our take on it.
Parliamentarians collect a salary while in office but should not receive any pay when they’re out of office. Such a move will squash the ‘great dream’ of those Indians who harbour hopes of becoming an MP. We don’t have a dearth of wannabe netas, who have criminal records. For them, the Parliament is THE place where they can gobble up public money, and not arrest a warrant for it!
Parliamentarians should purchase their own retirement plans, just as all Indians do. This should be the ideal plan. In a democracy like India, everyone is equal. It’s not fair that they get a pension just after serving for five years, while the general population invest from their earnings in an investment plan.
Parliamentarians should no longer vote themselves a pay raise. The AAP government in Delhi approved a Bill on December last year, where the basic monthly salary of Delhi MLAs and ministers was hiked by 400%, in addition to a hike in allowances. The monthly package of MLAs was increased from Rs 88,000 to Rs 2.10 lakh, while their annual travelling allowance was increased from Rs 50,000 to Rs 3 lakh in a year. The Bill also made available travel allowance for foreign trips. Delhi deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia reasoned that the hike was needed to “serve the people”. The minister’s statement would definitely hold true, if ‘serving self’ was the same thing as ‘serving people’.
Parliamentarians should lose their current health care system and participate in the same health care system as the Indian people. This would spell disaster for the MPs. Used to being attended by the crème la de crème doctors, resorting to the public health care can wreak havoc in their health. As the people’s representative, they ought to get the best treatment so that their services towards us don’t get affected.
Parliamentarians with tainted records, criminal charges and convictions, past or present should be summarily banned from the parliament and fighting election. In the popular 2010 Bollywood satire Phas Gaya Re Obama, Bhai Sahab, the local gangster who specializes in kidnapping, dreams of becoming a politician so that he can spend life in luxury. If criminals are prohibited from joining the Parliament, we would be denying a huge section of people their right to reform themselves. What better way than losing oneself in the service of the masses!
Parliamentarians should equally abide by all laws they impose on the Indian people. But we Indians are so used to the VVIP treatment that our netas get that stripping the MPs of their privileges might disorient us. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal became the butt of the joke when he refused to take any Z security on becoming the CM and stated that he would commute in his personal car. Seeing a CM without his entourage is something that we are not used to, and the best way we express our dilemma is by mocking him at his attempt to become an ‘aam neta’.
So before we voice our dissent over the privileges enjoyed by our parliamentarians, it’s important that we as citizens, ready ourselves for the reform. The MPs are just a representation of ourselves.