Try to reconcile a few facts before you decide whether or not our MPs deserve more than three times the increase in their emoluments they have voted for themselves in Parliament. More than half admit they are crorepatis. They occupy big bungalows with large gardens or flats in the poshest areas of New Delhi. Then take a look at their performance in Parliament.
Some rarely show up to keep up their memberships: some make their maiden speeches and speak no more. Some like Lalu Yadav and Mulayam Singh make a mockery of the Lok Sabha by performing nautanki.
Others make hungama by yelling slogans and forcing adjournments or staging walk-outs.
Allow me to quote Somnath Chatterjee who is considered to be the best Speaker we had. In his memoirs published recently, he writes: "Out of 1,738 hours and 45 minutes, the fourteenth Lok Sabha wasted 423 hours because of disruptions and adjournments due to disorderly scenes. This amounted to 29 per cent of the time of the House which constitutes an all-time record." (p. 160).
Now make your own assessment: Do they deserve a three-fold increase in their salaries, first class travel, fringe benefits and pensions? I am with the rest of my fellow Indians in saying definitely they do not.
We are ashamed of our MPs. The matter should have ideally been left to a panel of retired judges of the Supreme Court to decide.
Shivani, the celebrated Hindi novelist, mother of Mrinal and Ira Pande spoke Bengali fluently because she was schooled in Shantiniketan. She has written a memorable account Amader Shantiniketan of the image that Gurudev Tagore left on her mind. She writes: "Let me start from the very beginning from the day I first met Gurudev in 1935.
"My elder sister, Jayanti, our brother Tribhuvan and I had come to Shantiniketan all the way from Almora. As the youngest of the three siblings, I was admitted to Path Bhavan, the school section of the ashram. Soon after we settled in, the Path Bhavan principal, Dr Dhirendra Mohan Sen, took Jayanti and me to Gurudev. We reached Gurudev's home, Uttarayan, and were told that he was writing in another part of the house known as Shyamali.
"The evening shadows were falling and the blood-red earth turned dark as we neared Gurudev's chair. Dressed in a long black gown, the black cap he wore on his head highlighted his broad forehead and glowing face, and his eyes seemed lit up with an inner light. No wonder the Ashramites considered him the Guru of gurus. And yet, this towering figure was also among the gentlest and kindest of men. His serene and compassionate gaze included everyone in a warm embrace — rich or poor, big or small. All of us, whether we came from India or Japan, or China, or Sri Lanka, or wherever stood every morning before him as children who had come to an enchanted garden.
At the morning prayer assembly held every day in front of the Ashram library, we met the Buddhist scholar, Fanchu, who had come all the say from China, as well as Khairuddin, a Muslim student from Sumatra, Susheela from Gujarat, and Kumudini from — what then seemed to us a foreign land — Kerala. All of us stood, with folded hands and closed eyes, as we sang the hymns he had composed. Not once do I remember anyone trying to jostle someone or giggle or push. Such was the respect Gurudev evoked in all of us that whenever we were in his presence, we because better human beings."
Carry your burden
A husband comes home from satsang. He greets his wife, lifts her up and carries her around the house.
His wife is surprised and asks:
"Did the Swamiji preach about being romantic today?"
Her husband replies: "No, he said we must carry our burdens and sorrows with a smile."
(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)
(The views expressed are personal)