Thursday, May 12, 2016

From a bleeding heart ...

"Chief Justice of India breaks down before PM - asks for appointment of more judges" This headline almost made me cry.

When a highly disciplined, cultured, qualified individual involved in a brain-intensive profession sheds tears at a public forum - it is a sign things may be at maximum stretch. But imagine all those who choose to carry the burden of the nation for decade after decade without so much as a sign of such pressure they have to endure. For decades now, since the Republic of India came into existence they have stoically borne the burden of responsibility - and yet all the polity has offered are brickbats ... and worse!!

You may, by now, have guessed who I have in mind. I speak, of course, of our poor overburdened legislators.

In 1948 - the draft constitution envisaged 525 seats in the Lok Sabha - with an upper limit of 552 seats. Article 81(1)(b) provided that the States shall be divided, grouped or formed into territorial constituencies and the number of members to be allotted to each such constituency shall be so determined as to ensure that there shall be not less than one member for every 750,000 of the population and not more than one member for every 500,000 of the population.

So ... Minimum of 500,000 (5 Lakh) to be represented by an MP - and maximum of 750000 (7.5 Lakh) But then in 1952, for good & valid reason, the second amendment to the Indian constitution increased the stress on our legislators by removing the upper limit of 750000.

Instead of appreciating the sacrifices legislators make for the general public by accepting the responsibility for so many lakhs of people - the Indian population has chosen to increase the stress our legislators suffer by reproducing in an irresponsible fashion! An action that can only be deemed as ungrateful and apathetic!! To make things worse - the electorate at large have (or appear to have) limited their participation in governance of the nation to exercising their franchise in elections. After the elections the poor legislators are placed under the undue stress of having to *guess* what their constituents opinion/s are - this when constituents could/should have participated actively in voicing their opinion to their legislator/s. Surely we the electorate are irresponsible in placing our legislators in such stressful situations?

Consider that they (our legislators) get an office allowance of Rs 45,000 per month. This includes Rs. 28,000 for staff costs, and the balance to cover costs associated with running their office. This, combined with some support from the Parliament library, are the only resources they have to scrutinise the work and proposals of ministers who have the entire bureaucratic machinery of the government at their disposal.

Rs. 45000 per month as office-expenditure sounds like an enormous amount of money - but is it really such a large amount? Here is a simple discussion

As per the 2011 census, there are 545 Constituencies representing 1210193422 people. Approximately 2220538 (22 Lakh)  citizens are represented by 1 MP!

To put this figure into perspective - here is a very very rough calculation

There are 525600 (365*24*60) minutes in 1 year.

Let us put aside weekends - so reduce the count by (52*24*60) 74880.

Now there are only 450720 minutes available to the MP. Further we would like our MP to have some sleep - so, say, 5 hours of sleep daily + 2 hours of personal time on weekdays ... the count is further reduced by (365-52 *7*60) 131460

Now an MP has 319260 minutes available in 1 year. But the MP must spend some time in parliament - when he is probably away from his constituency. Say we make this count 60 days in a year - 232860 minutes available to his constituents.

The count is actually much less than this because there may be times when the MP is travelling, or out of the constituency for any other reason, or at a party meeting ... so on.

In other words, according to the 2011 census, it is impossible for an MP to meet ALL his constituents if they need his time! Delegation, and quality-support staff are absolutely necessary. Our legislators may not be unjustified in seeking a larger expense/office allowance!

Contrast this with our Indian Army which comprise approximately 20 Lakh people. One soldier stands for 579 citizens!

Compare this with the Police where 1 policeman stands for 761 citizens!

Whilst the good work done by Police, and Army are appreciated - the work done by our legislators goes unappreciated! Our legislators are shamed, dragged to courts ... and worse! One needs only take a look at one of the many newspapers/TV channel to see how poorly our legislators are treated!

Our poor legislators give up their personal lives, they choose to ignore the abuses heaped upon them & their near-and-dear ones by the public-at-large... They choose to construct houses, and roads, and dams, and canals, and airports, and railroads, and police-stations, and hospitals, they choose to step out from their office - and instruct the ignorant electorate on the duty it must fulfil towards the nation, when necessary they choose to stay far away from their loved ones family, friends, and well-wishers - even stay away from India for days on end ... the list is endless. Instead of appreciating the work they do - the electorate at large choose to further add to legislator's stress by continuing to procreate & then blame the lawmakers for "inadequate facilities", "poor quality government", "unresponsive government".

Fellow Citizens, before you contribute your Genes to the growth of the Nation, before you whine about poor governance - hold your peace (pun intended!!) ... spare a moment for all our legislators (Do not be partisan - cut across all party lines) since Independence who have had to bear borne (pardon the pun!) stoically the pain of your pleasures!

Be nice to your legislator - use a condom!