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Fair pay?

With the recent pay hike for legislators in Delhi & MP, we look at salaries of other public servants and see how they compare with their private sector counterparts. Samar Khurshid writes. Management wages, white collar wages, bue collor wages

india Updated: Sep 25, 2011 01:55 IST
Samar Khurshid
Samar Khurshid
Hindustan Times

With the recent hike in the salaries of MPs in Delhi, expectations are that the exchequer is set to bear a larger burden each year. Add to this hikes all over the country including Madhya Pradesh, which has seen almost 900% increase in salaries and perks given to members of the assembly.

Representatives of the people, it seems, are getting richer everyday.

But the less visible representatives of the government - an under secretary in a ministry, a peon in a collector's office or the CEO of a public bank - still earn a lower salarycompared to their corporate counterparts.

In certain instances, salaries are comparable like the PA of a minister who earns around R 32,000 and the executive assistant of a CEO who earns around Rs 50,000.

But in other cases, the difference is substantial. The former chairman of State Bank of India took home Rs 21.42 before he retired in March this year. The CEO and managing director of ICICI bank, on the other hand. earned Rs 320.9 lakh in 2010-2011.

The perception that government employees are underpaid is, of course, common says an undersecretary in the ministry of corporate affairs.

The stereotypically corrupt government clerk emerges out of such an opinion. Even this, however, is relative to the current economic condition of the country. "If you compare us with a corporate organisation, we are paid quite less. But, compare us to 80% of the Indian population which lives on less than Rs 20 a day, then we're a rich and elite class," he says.

It's no wonder then that civil society is not up in arms when their civil servants are given raises.

Government employees received an annual increment of only 3% of their salaries in July this year - a mere Rs 2,000 for an under secretary and around Rs 300 for a clerk.

While a employee in a corporate might earn almost twice that of his government doppelganger, public service continues to be a viable profession for its job security, pension, healthcare, to name a few.

Most of those interviewed said that assured long-term jobs were better than the hire-and-fire system which prevails in the corporate world.

Besides the assured tenure, the perks provided by the government are better than the private sector says SK Babbar, 41, a PA in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. "We have free access to healthcare from the CGHS. This is a very good perk, especially after retirement. After all, that is when most of us require medical treatment the most," he says.

However, the corporate sector rewards performance while the public sector rarely does so.

"Everyone is paid and promoted equally. This discourages hard workers since merit is not recognised", says a government official. "In the corporate world, you either perform or you are let go. In the government, you can't be removed from your post so easily."

Management wages, white collar wages, bue collor wages

First Published: Sep 24, 2011 22:54 IST