‘…When the hot weather set in at the end of March, the governor-general and his officials departed Delhi [for Simla] with their families, servants and baggage … [and] thousands of cases of canned dainties, French wine and Scotch whiskey, and all the official files, lugged up the mountains on the backs of thousands of coolies…’
This happened year after year, for forty years, from 1864 till British engineers managed to build a railway line from Kalka, the nearest railhead, to Simla. It was an arduous annual trek but well worth the effort – in the cool climes of Simla, surrounded by greenery, the British officials and their ladies could pretend they were back home in England (Ref: William Shirer’s Gandhi: A Memoir).
For the white rulers, it was natural to indulge their penchant for comfort at the cost of their brown subjects. But when India became free, we were told each of us in the Indian state is equally a ruler – nam ellorum innattu mannar – we are all kings of this land – proclaimed the Tamil revolutionary poet Subramania Bharati in anticipation of the event. He also declared that, in independent India there would be none who would go hungry – thani oruvanukku unavu illaiyenil jagaththinai azhithuduvom – if even one individual should starve, we will raze down the world [to see he is fed]. Unfortunately, Bharati did not live to see India free; fortunately, perhaps: the world would have had to be razed down several thousand times had he been alive to see the perpetuation of the ruler-subject syndrome that the Indian ‘democratically elected’ political class has carried over from the British.
While a princely sum of around forty rupees per day is declared to demarcate the ‘subjects’ who are poor from those who are not, the ‘rulers’ earn a total fixed income of 140,000 rupees (monthly fixed salary 50,000 + constituency allowance 45,000 + office expenses 45,000). Together with perks and allowances such as free housing, free electricity and water, free telephone calls, fully furnished, rent-free housing and maintenance, unlimited free rail travel (and ‘limited’ air travel), travel allowances, fully-paid for vehicle, security, medical expense, etc. etc. etc – not to mention ‘sitting’ fees of 2000 rupees for ‘attending’ Parliament even if Parliament has been adjourned after a brouhaha that substitutes for debate, a pension of 20,000 rupees even if the member has been in office for just one day, with a provision for additional Rs. 1500 of pension for every year in office after the initial five years, an ‘honourable’ member of Parliament’s salary works out to a total of Rs.291,833.33 (Two hundred and ninety one thousand eight hundred and thirty three rupees and thirty three paise only!). Now, multiply that by 12 and you get an annual salary of more than 3 million rupees per MP, per year. AND, ALL OF IT IS TAX FREE! Note that this list does not include other freebies like subsidised canteen food, and potential availability of official car, stationery and staff for personal purposes …
PS: Click on the hyperlink that follows for a detailed discussion on the pay and perks of Indian MPs and MLAs