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Posts Tagged ‘parliament’

So what was the problem with the JPC?

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I wonder if anyone else finds it curious that the government agreed to the JPC (joint parliamentary committee) even before the Parliament opened for the budget session, after the entire winter session was lost due to the logjam over scams, in particular the Rs. 1.7 lakh crore (that’s 1.7 x 10^12 = 1.7 trillion) 2G scam. The logjam was caused by the government refusing to accept a JPC, and the opposition trying to force one. And now, with a recess intervening, the government has agreed to the formation of JPC, and the opposition is muted in their jubilation. So why didn’t they accept one earlier?

Certain things have happened in the meanwhile, CBI has arrested Raja, the Supreme Court has goaded the CBI into questioning Anil Ambani, whose ADAG group is supposed to have benefited immensely from Raja’s policy of allocating 2G spectrum without an auction, CBI has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against Advani (on the Babri Masjid demolition case), and Advani has apologised to Sonia Gandhi for saying that her family has huge undisclosed sums of money in Swiss bank accounts.

Make one wonder, were backroom deals done between the government and the opposition to ensure that only a few scapegoats are punished? Will we ever see a report on how much was paid as bribe by various people?  Will we ever see a return of the crores that went into these bribes? Will the nation regain more than a small fraction of the loss incurred to the exchequer? We have to wait and see.

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Chinese competition

August 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Apparently the Dept. of Science and Technology has sent out a question to all the research institutes under it — how can India be more competitive with China and Japan in science and technology. Apparently this was a question asked in the parliament.

To many, a big part of the answer is obvious, dedicate more resources to school and college education, open more universities, and do not concentrate finances in research institutes. But the research institutes will not say this.

A smaller part of the solution is to support Indian science journals.

Salaries of MPs

April 17, 2010 1 comment

For my previous post, I tried to look up the annual expenditure for the parliament and its members. Several sites show up in a search, many showing a figure of Rs. 855 cr (8.55 billion) for the salaries and concessions for the 534 members of the Lok Sabha. No source for this figure is given anywhere, but the parliament website lists the salaries and concessions.These figures were valid for 2001-2006. The site does not say if they have been amended.

So I find:

Monthly salary: Rs. 12000/- p.m.

Daily allowance: Rs. 500/- per day on duty (Lok Sabha/committee in session)

Constituency allowance: Rs. 10000/- p.m.

Office expenses: Rs. 14000/- p.m. (including Rs. 10000/- paid directly to people employed for secretarial work)

Travel: 32 air journeys/yr for the member and spouse or any number of companions or relatives! And these air travels, if unused, may be carried over to the next year. Plus rail fares and other fares.

Accommodation: Hostel is provided.

Electricity: 50000 units p.a.

Furniture washing allowance: Rs. 30000/- every three months.

Telephone: No charge for rental and installation plus 50000 calls p.a.Plus 20000 free calls p.a. for those with constituencies more than 1000 km away from New Delhi.

And lots of benefits for retired parliamentarians as well.

So the figures given on those pages are not totally without basis.

However, although these figures look huge when added up, I don’t find them really over the top. An MP does need to make a lot of phone calls to the home constituency and to other members of the same party or to other MPs. Most of these calls would be made by the personal assistant of the MP, in relation to what the MP is actually expected to do.

The MP will generally have a lot of visitors as well — furniture does get dirty when you have people using them all the time.

Electricity usage seems to be a little on the high side. A significant part of that is due to the air-conditioning. And I find it difficult to grudge the MPs their use of air-conditioning — anybody in a position of making decisions should be allowed to keep their cool, in my opinion.

32 air journeys are somewhat high, but not totally unexpected for those with constituencies away from the capital. But `any number of companions’ seems way over the top.

These figures do not include the hundreds (thousands?) of employees of the parliament and their expenses.

I would be very interested to know the total annual expenditure for salaries and allowances of everyone in the parliament, Lok sabha and Rajya sabha taken together. And the expenditure per day of session. Not that it would shame any of these MPs and stop them from creating a furore over trivialities.

Parliament on Tharoor

April 17, 2010 1 comment

The parliament is in turmoil. The opposition is up in arms against Shashi Tharoor for his involvement in the circus called IPL.The Lok Sabha was adjourned twice yesterday over this issue, and finally Tharoor made a statement claiming that he had done no wrong.

It would appear that the democratically elected members of this body, with huge maintenance bills, have nothing serious to discuss, and would rather stop working, and stop their colleagues from working, on frivolous grounds.

Secrets of democracy

January 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Learned from Shamnad Basheer’s post that the new bill on copyrights will be kept secret from the public until it is tabled in the Parliament.

In other news, external affairs minister S.M.Krishna publicly rebuked minister of state Shashi Tharoor for expressing his reservations on twitter about new visa regulations. Krishna also said, “Well, these issues are not to be discussed in public … If there are any perceptions, they should be sorted out within the four walls of the two ministries.”

Both stories bring out the attitude typical of our democracy — don’t let the riffraff know what the rulers are thinking. The press has let go of both stories without further comment, which is a commentary on the press itself.