Are Our MPs Role Models?

“The people are fashioned according to the example of their kings; and edicts are of less power than the life of the ruler.” – Claudianus, epic poet of Alexandria (Circa 365-408).
Even though we have transited from monarchy to democracy and our rulers are a collective of parliamentarians, the importance of example, or the more fashionable expression, role model, is equally relevant to the present age. Just as ancient Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher (BC106-43) said “Men think they may justly do that for which they have a precedent”, the latter day Edmund Burke, Irish orator and statesman (1729-1799) echoed the same idea: “Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other”.
Against this background, what kind of role models are our Members of Parliament (MPs), our modern rulers who have collectively substituted for the traditional kings? The latest provocation for raising this question comes because of the fat salary and perks that they voted for themselves. But, first the facts.
Continuing self-gratification unabashedly, the MPs, on August 27, 2010, upheld the hike in their salary and perks as the Lok Sabha adopted Salary, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Parliament (Amendment} Bill, 2010.  The Bill, approved on August 31 by Rajya Sabha, provides for hike of more than 300% in salary from Rs. 16,000 per month to 50,000 and doubling constituency allowance to 45,000 per month and daily allowance from Rs 1,000 to Rs. 2,000. The increase in salaries of MPs and pension to former MPs would cost the exchequer an additional Rs. 103.76 crores every year. Besides, there will be one-time expenditure of Rs. 118 crores on payment of arrears of salary and pension The pension for former MPs will go up from Rs. 8,000 per month to Rs 20,000. The increase in daily constituency and office expenditure allowance will cost Rs. 35.8 crores every year.
While voting the fat hikes for themselves, the MPs made hypocritical noises about the lack of morality in voting the excesses for themselves and called for a fig leaf of an independent mechanism for the future. Over the last many months, the MPs, especially from the Opposition, have been beating their breasts – and observed a Bharat Bandh – in the name of poor janata hurt by inflation. Incidentally, MPs now also get to spend at their discretion Rs. 2 crores each per year under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme. And they want this figure to be hiked to Rs. 6 crores.
 Apart from what MPs get from the Central exchequer, they also get, without much fanfare or publicity, collateral benefits from State governments as, for instance, Karnataka MPs do. Sample this:
 Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa  announced on August 19, 2010, additional benefits for Parliamentarians from Karnataka. Inaugurating the newly constructed Karnataka Bhavan annex building in Delhi, the Chief Minister said the State government would provide 500 litres of petrol per month for each MP as against the existing 300 litres. Apart from this, the Chief Minister announced the construction of a new guest house in Bangalore to provide transit accommodation for state MPs.  Now, each MP is entitled to have a car, an office in the district headquarters, a driver and first and second division clerks at the cost of the State government. Besides, the State government also provides cars for them to travel in and around Delhi.
There are other facets of the MPs, including integrity and work ethics that impinge on their role model issue.
At length corruption, like a general food
(So long by watchful ministers withstood),
Shall deluge all, and avarice, creeping on,
Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun.
 - Alexander Pope, English poet (1688-1744)
 Sir Robert Walpole, English statesman and parliamentarian (1676-1745), with reference to his fellow MPs, said: “All those men have their price”. If anything the probity of our MPs today has been declared negatively by our MPs themselves.  On October 21, 2008, BJP MP, Babubhai K Katara, was expelled from the Lok Sabha after an inquiry committee of the House held him guilty of grave misconduct for trying to illegally take two people on the passport belonging to his wife and son. According to the motion for his ouster, he “committed an act of grave misconduct which has brought disrepute to and maligned the image of entire fraternity of legislators”.
The inquiry committee, in its report on this infamous human trafficking case, taking advantage of the privileges of an MP, had observed that the members of Parliament should measure to the people’s expectations by conducting themselves honourably and honestly. “The Committee laments that Mr. Katara’s conduct is a far cry from the virtues expected of MPs. To say that the conduct of Mr. Katara was unbecoming would be putting it rather too mildly.” This self-righteous language has to be viewed against the background that Mr. Katara is the 11th member of the 14th Lok Sabha to be expelled. Earlier, 10 members had been expelled in the cash-for-question scam exposed through a sting operation by a TV channel.
A day earlier, then Chef Election Commissioner, N Gopalaswamy, in his Sardar Vallabhai Patel memorial lecture in Hyderabad, stated that the Commission wanted Parliament to pass legislation to bar persons charged with heinous crimes from contesting elections. But, this did not pass muster as MPs raised concern over foisting “false cases”. He said that 18.18% of candidates who stood for Lok Sabha elections in 2004 had criminal cases pending against them. We have the ugly scenario of MPs coming from jails on parole to vote in crucial votes of confidence. Things have become worse since then. While there were 128 MPs with dubious backgrounds in the last parliament, there are 150 of them now. Of them, 72 face ‘serious’ charges. The number of    ‘crorepatis’ too have increased like that of the MPs with anti-social antecedents – from 154 in the last parliament to 300 in the current, which suggests that politics is a highly ‘paying’ profession.
The other malaise of is plain hooligan or juvenile behaviour of MPs in Parliament.   Questioning the credibility of elected representatives, a concerned citizen had written to the then Speaker of Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee, (read out at party leaders’ meeting) saying that the country’s interests cannot be sacrificed just because a “bunch of elected representatives should rather take a day off… While I respect your decision to pay homage to the several blast victims, the decision to adjourn the House was, I am sorry to say, a terrible one. How will people come out to vote in large number if elected representatives indulge in such massive dereliction of duty? …We want you people to work and not shirk. The tax payer spends an awful lot of money on Parliament and expects engagement, debate and decision and not walk-outs and adjournments.”
Finally, we come to elections which give birth to MPs. The periodicity of election varies; but, you know that election is not far off when a candidate can recognize you across the street. George Bernard Shaw said that democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few. Today, however, because of the massive money power, it is election by the corruptible many. Karl Marx said through elections, the oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representative of the oppressing class to represent and repress them. If Marx were alive today, he would have substituted “oppressing class” by “corrupting class”. For, MPs are born in sin by falsifying the source of election expenses and filing false statements of election expenses. In addition to bribing voters with money and in kind, they spend massive unaccounted money on “paid news”, corrupting the media in the bargain.

There is much more that can be said on the subject of corruption and healthy work culture among MPs. They may be paragons of virtue in their cloistered private lives. But, on the basis of their public performance (or the lack of it?), can our MPs be role models?
John B. Monteiro, author and journalist, is editor of his website (Interactive Cerebral Challenger).

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By John B. Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Canute Pinto, Mangalore/Dubai

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    Are Our MPs Role Models?
    Yes indeed, most of our M.P's are truly role models, they are the one who make the nation "roll" instead of "run faster" in development.

    After all we are the one who elected them for a bottle of liquor and a kanjivaram sari, if you roll on the ground by drinking liquor wife will wipe you with the sari, facilities and provisions are already done before the election. "Mission possible" who said that "Mission Imopossible"?

    Don't be disappointed, they will come back to you! after 5 years!? Take patience, because SARVAJNYA says "Dhanadalli Mahaa Dhana Samaadhana"!

  • Rajesjh, mangalore

    Mon, Sep 06 2010

    We have a very good example in Nalin Kumar Kateel. A good for nothing MP.Hope he has seen Delhi anytime.What is the use of such MPs who do not represent our district and do not know neither English nor Hindi.Take some Tulu traslator to Delhi.

  • Jimmy Noronha, Bellore, Lucknow

    Sat, Sep 04 2010

    To quote Cicero after over two thousand years’ of societal evolutions in the context of asking if the present day M.P. is a role model (example) does not sound appropriate.
    The answer to the question if our M.P. is a role model is rather difficult to answer. It is rather an enigmatic proposition if one tries to dissect the whole issue. You see if one compares the income of an M.P. to that of the average income of the Indian, an M.P. earns well over hundred times. But if one compares their income to their counterparts elsewhere in the world they are nothing better than a poor cousin of their counterparts.

    If you try to have a peak into their d assets, one wonders if the income laws of the country would ever be in a position to make out the color of their d assets! However their average working span may not even last longer than five years, so it is but natural if they try to make the most out of the limited time at their disposal, but to earn such fabulous income for about 60 days’ work in a year is beyond anyone’s imagination. Their behavior at times in the parliament is certainly outside the ambit of ‘role model’. There are of course a handful of M.P.s who do make a role model but by and large they don’t.


    Fri, Sep 03 2010

    We do not have choice when it comes to voting,nowadays 99% of the candidates are just winning because of the party/ money/ bribe/assurences which never fulfilled.The false asssurences here luring the poor who mostly vote,without knowing what it ultimately results in.The votes of educated lots are not even 5% in the overall , which is clear from the voting.It's high time to demand the voting right for all the people outside the state or country so that even if the educated who wish to vote but denied because of the non availabilty, will get an opportunity.This way I think we can ensure the rise in voting & decide the candidate more appropriately than what is at present. Educated people must vote so as to ensure the right candidate being elected.Can any one suggest a way how we pur pressure ,so as to ensure the voting rights to the people who are away during the election??

  • Clara Lewis, Kemmannu/Dubai

    Thu, Sep 02 2010

    These corrupt leaders we say, people voted them to be in power, how one can say that actual voted person by people is in power. Here also to be in power these leaders must have bribed. Not only these leaders use their power also their children to grandchildren are powerful in society. Police, Judges, Lawyers, general public,minorities, religious leaders, professors, teachers, doctors, everyone is live in fear of them, many of them lions and tigers in the society, anyone try to be honest they use their power and force against them. Everything is possible in the worlds largest democratic country.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    There is a big difference in between "politicians" and "statesmen". We have plenty
    of politicians, but hardly very
    few in the other category.

    Great role models: simply watch
    the parliamentary sessions, and
    some of them are qualified to be
    in professional wrestling.

    Politics is the best business to
    get rich faster, and they are good
    role models for anybody who is
    interested to get rich faster.

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    Member of Public, Member of Politics, Member of Power, Member of Patronage, Member for Pension,etc,etc. MPs- Democracy and parliament. Debates and rebates.Running nations business. Most MPs are looting the nation while they serve the public and serve themselves.
    After all who puts them in power and politics?
    Why are we putting them in power?
    Why are we blaming them in power?
    Politics is a game, a dirty game. Politicians play the game for the name and fame.

    They give money and they make money. Its a business unlike any.

  • Anand, Karkala/Dubai

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    We can not take all the MPs as Role Models. Yes, we can devide them into some categories like, Athyachar, Corruption, Rowdism, Murder, so on and so forth. Most of the MPs are falling on the above and certainly the Role Models. What we do? Unfortunately they are the elected representatives of our democratic India.

  • Ashok Bhat, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    First of all - In this present secanario - this politics and role model are quite opposite factors. I would like convey simple, painly that if your need to win/contest the elections you need to spend money. Otherwise you are nowhere or unfit to enter politics. You need supporters, party workers. For their existence you must make them happy showing the revenue genaration ways. If any political party has to grow, it requires money for its activities. Nowadays none of citizens funding these parties unless you have to get certain returns to your donations. This is the political system of the country. No principlas, No role models. It is just make money, make money to whatever extent possible till your in power. That's all and it is the Indenpendence with in which we have live/survive and try to be happy about.


    Wed, Sep 01 2010


  • Felix F.,, India/ksa

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    MP`s model, for the citizens.

  • Dr Urban Professor, Udyavara/Malaysia

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    Indeed it is a great news for the 1 billion population of mother India. By getting people voted two lettered M.P (Democratic people's University of India) a voted person gets lakh of rupee and perks. Even a highly learned Professor of Indian University may not get that fat salary at his verge of retirement. Looks to me why to encourage our children to study. Better wind up their education at pre-primary level and make them available regularly to attend neigbors funeral, fight, mourning, wedding, cradling and all those functions so that he will qualify in the great neigborhood Democratic People's University so that his so called funeral attendance shall make him to get the required votes which may fetch him a pensionable position with a fat salary. At the cost of village votes the two lettered great degree(M.P) shall earn a huge fortune for his kith, kins. But I wonder the members of the great people university to elect their neigborhood boy for giving his selfless service during his calamity and awarding him the great M.P in convocation. At the cost of people life-time wealth for the whole dependent family. Friends why to encourage your ward for studies? Shall we send them to earn this great degree.

  • Stany D'sa, Balehonnur/Dubai

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    Most of our MPs are just a burden for our nation. They are looting tax payers money systematically and one can always watch their stupid chaos in the parliament floor.They are abruptly wasting precious time for selfish gains.I really pity the speaker as every session is nightmare. Only qualified youngsters can take India forward on a right track.Eagerly awaiting Rahul Gandhi to take reign of Indian Politics. High salary cannot change the attitude of a corrupt MPs and that is why people are dying of hunger and high rate of illiteracy still prevail in our country.

  • Nancy, Belman

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    Yes, and why not? ask all the currupt Indian Nationalists. Who make politicians corrupt? who give them Bribe? We all want influence to work get done. So bribe big big Ministers.

    So they are role Model for all the Indian Citizen who encourage for bribe, corruption.

  • denis silva, Mglore/Dubai

    Wed, Sep 01 2010

    Our beloved MP from Manglore Mr.Kateel, certainly is not a role model.coz i wounder how will he talk in the parliament,as he doesnt know either english or hindhi...Jai Ho....

  • Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore

    Tue, Aug 31 2010

    There is an old saying, "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys". Let us be honest, the MPs are presently paid rather poorly, and they deserve a raise in their salary and allowances, for they have to work very hard and long hours, sometimes seven days a week, often sacrificing their private and family life also they are responsible and accountable to meet their election promises, and try their best to meet obligations and expectations of their electorates (whether some of them actually fulfil them or not is another matter).

    Also, the tenure of MPs is short lived and as they are unsure about their future, (whether they will be re-elected at the next election etc), it is quite in order that they be remunerated adequately. Hopefully, this proper remuneration will veer them away from the temptation of taking bribes as well which is commonly going on at the moment. But, no doubt, the recent massive increase in their salaries and allowances as reported in this article is over the top, and wonder whether such a drastic increase is warranted at one stretch.

    All the same, once their salaries and allowances are set at an appropriate and acceptable level, the further yearly increases should fall in line with the CPI and other general indicators in place that are normally applicable to similar professions. By the way, one more meaningful and researched article by the author John B. Monteiro, which I enjoyed reading, as usual.

  • jean, Mangalore

    Tue, Aug 31 2010

    Present MPs. are not role model they are money makers, showing the public how to behave in society by throwing chairs, by fighting for silly things, keeping revenge with each other instead of solving problems unitedly. Most of the MP's are money making devils. In their blood Desh Prem is not there only hatred is there in most of the uneducated MP's hearts. By corruption they get vote and come up as a MP's.

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Tue, Aug 31 2010

    Most of our MPs are rolled gold models and not 24K gold leaders.

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