Monday, 27 April 2009

We save a few rupees, but they rake in crores

(A crore is 10 million or 100 lakhs)
A crore of rupees - Rs 1,00,00,000

It is downturn time. People have lost jobs. Many have had to do with a cut in their salaries. The poor always had it bad, but the middle class is feeling the squeeze. Housing loans need to be paid off; school fees too. On top of it the elections have added to the woes. Summer means a rise in the price of vegetables. But the price of staples like rice, atta (wheat flour) and dals (lentils) has risen by about five to ten rupees per kilo. Ditto with sugar. When I protest, my neighbourhood grocer looks at me pityingly and explains, "Madam, I am being forced to charge the high rates. I am getting the goods at a higher price. Don't you know the sugar lobby has financed the political parties to the tune of some crores? In return, they have been assured that they can sell sugar at any price they want.”

More hardship for the common people – India’s middle class who will eventually have to bear the cost of the elections. Our rich netas (leaders) will get elected to another five years of pure unadulterated money making spree.

Meanwhile, I bargain for a few rupees with the vegetable vendor. I check out the price of 10 kg of atta in four shops to see who will give me the best price. I save a few rupees.

The leaders will rake in crores. A study shows how their wealth has grown between two elections. L Rajagopal of the Congress party representing Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh was worth Rs 9.6 crores in 2004 and now five years later he has declared Rs 299 crores as his assets! An increase of over 30 times!

There are many such candidates. Check out the following articles -
It is a good thing that the politicians are being asked to declare their assets and their educational qualifications. Check out the election commission site -

Of course we have no way of ensuring that what the leader has declared is all the assets he or she has. But we need to be told how they made the money and how much they have paid by way of tax. These figures should be available on the election commission website.

While the electorate is expected to pay its taxes, and penalties are stiff for late payment and evasion, our leaders evade them with impunity. In the state of Mizoram, none of the ten top candidates even possess a PAN card! Do we really want leaders like these- who have no regard for the law of the land? And shouldn’t we demand to know how the income tax authorities have proceeded against these worthies?

See how the assets of our political masters rose -

Check out how the residents of Vadodara are demanding their right to choose not to vote.

Is it any wonder then, why the middle class is so disenchanted of the politicians that it does not come out to vote. And the pundits on television keep asking why the elections do not enthuse the middle class and why it chooses to treat voting day as a holiday instead of joining the queue to vote a leader. If you do not take part in an election you have no right to grumble, say those working for election reforms. Fair enough! But what if the choice is choosing between a thug and a lesser thug? Then we should rather have the choice to register that none of the candidates meet our expectations and we choose not to vote. Like some people have in some constituencies.
And if in any constituency a certain percentage of voters say that they feel that none of the candidates are worth choosing, then the constituency should come under President’s rule. By having such a law, we would ensure that the political parties pick their candidates with care. For they would not like to see it go under President’s rule. We need such a law, and we need it quick. Otherwise, the fixers and the thugs will continue to occupy the seats of power.


priyabrata nanda said...

Your blog is insightful and socially responsible, dealing with issues of importance.

Balu said...

Today's politicians r least botherd about common m,an's problem .They r like the ravana's bringing the blood of the poor &the middle class. Rama has to take re-birth to protect

SV said...

Thank you Priyabrata Nanda for the compliment.
Balu, thank for sharing your views about our politicians.

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