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Tough working conditions

Indian MPs are in need of a salary hike....

Written by Sanjay Nirupam |
May 22, 2010 2:58:25 am

The purpose of this article is not to influence the government in adopting and implementing the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament,dated May 5,2010. It is to throw light on the plight of our MPs and to place an MP’s perspective on the subject before the people of our country.

I understand that MPs are representatives of the public and should not be equated with ordinary workers. However,MPs are engaged in constituency and parliamentary work on a full-time basis and often have no other independent source of income. An MP is required to maintain at least two offices and houses,one in his constituency and the other in New Delhi. On average,

he attends to around 200 residents of his constituency in a day and at least 20 at his Delhi office. Even if tea/coffee is served to half the visitors,the expenditure involved is around Rs 15,000 a month. He is also required to attend a minimum of five functions/celebrations in a day in his constituency for which,even if he were to just present a bouquet of flowers,the expenditure incurred would be Rs 30,000 per month. Considerable expenditure is incurred in maintaining two offices and houses,besides other costs.

Let us look at the existing salary and allowances paid to MPs. Every month he is paid a salary of Rs 16,000. In addition,he is paid Rs 6000 for his two offices and Rs 10,000 towards the salaries of his office staff. Is it possible to get an educated,experienced,professional personal secretary/assistant for a monthly salary of Rs 10,000. And even if that were possible,what about the monthly expenses of his family?

After the 15th Lok Sabha was constituted,the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament was formed to study the rationale of salaries and allowances of MPs in India. The committee,which was headed by Chhattisgarh Congress MP,Charan Das Mahant,recently submitted its report on the subject to the speaker of the Lok Sabha and chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Some of the findings of the committee are indeed shocking. The following example will give you an idea about the disparity in the salary of MPs vis-à-vis other government officials.

The President of India is paid the highest salary of Rs 1,50,000 per month by the Government of India. Thereafter,the vice president and governors of states are paid Rs 1.1 lakh per month. Next,the Chief Justice of India,the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts,secretaries to the Government of India and DGPs are paid Rs 80,000 per month. In the order of protocol,MPs rank No. 21,government secretaries are ranked No. 23 and DGPs No. 25. And yet,the MPs get 1/5th of the salary paid to secretaries and DGPs. It is with this background that the committee has recommended an increase in the salaries of MPs by five times to bring them on par with secretaries and DGPs. As per the committee’s recommendations,office expense allowance is Rs 60,000 per month out of which Rs 30,000 is meant for the salary of an office assistant,Rs 14,000 per month for office attendants,Rs 12,000 for stationery expenses and Rs 4000 for franking of letters. The recommendations are realistic and based on strong justifications,as the present salary of MPs is comparable only to salaries of Class IV government


During my recent visit to Bihar,the state government provided me with a constable for protection. In the course of our long journey I entered into a casual conversation with the constable and was shocked to learn that he drew a monthly salary of Rs 17,000 after deductions. This brings out the huge disparity in salary between Members of Parliament and other government employees. I understand the difference between the various economies of the world,yet it is interesting to look at the chart of payments to MPs in other countries as compared to their counterparts in India (see table below).

A parliamentary constituency in India comprises of 16 lakh voters on average,whereas in the UK and Europe,a parliamentary constituency comprises of around 30,000 voters; the work load of our MPs is much higher than their counterparts from the UK and Europe. India may not compare to these rich nations in terms of wealth. Despite this,the disparity in salary levels is far too disproportionate. I do not say that our salaries should be on par with MPs of these countries,but there should be some semblance of purchasing power parity. The last hike in our salaries was more than six years ago and it is public knowledge that the consumer price index has undergone a steep increase during this period. In fact,price rise has been the main subject of discussion in and outside Parliament in the last few years. The Sixth Pay Commission recognised this fact and enhanced the salaries and allowances of government employees. The salary structure in the private sector has also been hiked in the last five years. However,when MPs seek a hike,there is a hue and cry from the general public who are opposed to the very idea. This is probably because all the facts are not known to the people.

Members of Parliament like Rahul Bajaj may not need a salary hike,but there are many others who come from rural India and belong to poor families. The recommendations of the committee have been placed before the Cabinet and the government may or may not take a favourable decision to implement the recommendations. It is not my personal agenda to press for the adoption of these recommendations. However,I feel duty- bound to place before the people of our country,the true picture.

The writer is a Lok Sabha MP from the Congress party

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