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The great Indian payoff

We can only hope with the new improved salaries, our political class will begin that painful task of paying their way.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2008 20:44 IST
Hindustan Times

At last, our president will be able to rustle up enough to buy the new Rs 1 lakh car after her salary has been doubled from Rs 50,000. The vice-prez has become richer by Rs 40,000 per month, not a princely sum given that your common and garden MBA starts off with considerably more. A sad tale of being shortchanged all these years. But the few perks thrown in with the job can’t hurt too much.

For a start, none of that nonsense of market rents. Once in office, a cornucopia of privileges kick in. A bungalow in the leafy and gracious confines of the city you are in, free telephones, free electricity, free rail and air passage and an army of staff to help you serve the country. The logic for hiking the salaries of our political and public worthies, as enunciated by some poor demented soul many years ago, is that this will eliminate the need for them to try and notch up a few pennies on the side. But we have seen proof of the dictum that you can never be too rich or too poor. So not content with the power and pelf of high office, our representatives make hay while the sun shines. Some literally as the redoubtable Lalu Yadav did with the fodder fiddle.

In a strange version of how to become a millionaire, we have seen struggling politicos enter the fray with little more than a shirt on their back and miraculously tot up a seriously healthy bank balance within months. To the question, ‘my, that a lot of money you have’, the answer is ‘the better to serve you with, my dear’. And with our politicians, they never fade away or retire. They just niftily hang on to their palatial residences or if you happen to be the prez a retirement home is prepared for you in the most exclusive address in the city. Now this is something quite unique to us. The US president, arguably the most powerful person in the world, gets a mere Rs 1.8 crore, bus fare really for your run-of the-mill Donald Trumps or Warren Buffets. But the difference is that the US president or the British prime minister has to fend for themselves once out of office. If you are as smart as Slick Willy, you could restyle yourself into a dispenser of wisdom on the lecture circuit.

Tony Blair has just started work as a Wall Street advisor. But we are one better, public office and its attendant perks are for keeps with your children often hanging on to them long after you have got your snout in the great trough in the sky. If that fails, a clamour is set up by the faithful to convert the residence into a monument to the dear departed. We can only hope with the new improved salaries, our political class will begin that painful task of paying their way. But knowing their predilections, they will soon put paid to that notion.