As Head of State, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil stands at the top of the pecking order in the Government. Except the one that lists the salaries of India’s dignitaries.
The President is paid lesser than the ministers she appoints, the senior bureaucrats appointed by those ministers and the generals of the armed forces that she commands.
Who gets what
Vice President: Rs 40,000
Prime Minister: Rs 68,000
Union Minister: Rs 68,000
MP: Rs 46,000
Governor: Rs 36,000
Secretary to GoI: Rs 52,000
A secretary-rank official said he expected another Rs 2,000 hike in pay, after last week’s six per cent hike in dearness allowance comes into force. “But it never struck me that I had a gross salary higher than the President,” he said.
It wasn’t always like this.
In 1951, India’s first President received a salary of Rs 10,000, nearly ten times what a minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet or a Member of Parliament was paid.
But the MPs thought they were paid a pittance. “The MPs raised their salaries over the years. No one bothered about the President,” a senior Union minister remarked sardonically. Rashtrapati Bhavan got its first hike in 1985, the second in 1990 that pegged the presidential salary at Rs 20,000 and the third in 1998, raising it to the present level of Rs 50,000 with effect from 1996.
The ministers had linked their salaries to MPs and enjoyed a higher raise every time the MPs gave themselves one.
The last hike occurred in September last year, when MPs pushed up their average emoluments MP from Rs 27,000 to Rs 46,000. Ministers’ emoluments went up from Rs 39,000 to 68,000. The government also agreed, in principle, for a regular mechanism for pay hikes to MPs.
Traditionally, the President is the highest-paid government employee in most countries. Former MP Era Sezhiyan, who has been advocating a permanent commission for MPs, told HT setting up a regular mechanism was the way out.