PAY cuts of Members of Parliament send grim signals

SHIVAJI Sarkar 

It looks good. It appears for national cause. The 30 percent pay cut for ministers and MPs apparently sends a message of the topmost caring for the country. The country welcomes it in times of supposed fight against unseen grim corona virus – Covid19. Yes it is added by suspension of MP local area development scheme (MPLAD) funds for two years or Rs 7930 crore, including Rs 29 crore, from their salaries. True, charity begins at home as information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar says. Interestingly enough Parliament is not consulted. Has the executive overridden rights of Parliament and has it not surpassed protocol? These are small issues in a country where people are least bothered beyond their survival.  And that is where another signal comes. It is a grim situation. It means virtual locking up of the development process and the mite parliamentarians could contribute to it. Somewhere it looks authoritarian and some even may see contempt for niceties. That too may be acceptable in a country which is gradually saying goodbye to many norms. This cannot, however, suppress the grimness and the signal it sends. The country is in dire crisis. The executive may like to sweep it all under the carpet because of the disease and almost a month of lockdown. Truth may be beyond it. The nation knows that the economy was not in ship shape long before. Since December 2019, allocations of departments, projects and development works have not been released. Many departments including central universities faced problems and delayed salaries. The last quarter works had thawed even before one had heard of the virus. No doubt the authorities are taking shelter behind the half truth of virus threat for all the economic ills. Reality has been, many international agencies pointed it out, different. Citizens now would be facing orchestrated slogans and moves to emulate the leaders for ‘voluntary’ pay-cuts. Already Telangana cut 75 percent wages, Maharashtra 50 percent, Rajasthan – 5 days, all central schools 5 days, airlines and many other private organisations up to 30 percent or more and many just are not paying. Wider ‘voluntary’ cuts would be forced to uphold the ‘spirit of nationalism’ though it has no link to it. At best it is a failure and tried to be couched under whatever the executive can hold on to. It leads to the beginning of severe economic crisis where during rabi harvest, farmers would not get remunerative payments in a depressed market. Official procurement is bound to suffer adding to rural distress. The reverse migration by not less than five crore migrant labourers would depress labour wages as cut-throat competition among jobless begins. Corona is the ruse to cover up. The nation has to mend its backyard for lighting up the receding hopes.

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