If you pay peanuts, all you will get are monkeys

Every session of Parliament sees the same cycle being repeated. A bunch of MPs playing truant, a bunch of MPs holding the rest of the House to ransom on some silly issue, a stentorian speaker expressing his frustration, and self-righteous editorials wailing of the wastage of so many hours of time, translated into rupees.

Little wonder that only 20 per cent of Lok Sabha MPs participated in legislative debates in 2006. Little wonder,40 per cent of legislative bills were passed with less than one hour of debate. Yamini Aiyar, a consultant working on issues of governance reform, argues in the Indian Express that nobody talks of the “pitiful” resources an MP commands, which reflects in legislative performance.

“Office expense allowances for Indian MPs are a paltry Rs 14,000 per month—that’s less than Rs 500 a day. Compare this with the United States. Each member of the House of Representatives, the Lower House, is entitled to an annual personal allowance of $632,355; he can hire up to 18 permanent and four part-time staff members.

“US Senators, members of the Upper House, get more: an annual allowance starting at $1,000,000 for hiring administrative staff and legislative aides and assistants who are responsible for researching legislative and policy issues, drafting legislation and liaisoning with constituents and lobbyist groups.

“Plus, the US Congress has its own public policy research arm—Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS’s sole responsibility is to provide legislators with non-partisan analysis. The British parliament offers similar privileges to its MPs. A member of the House of Commons gets an annual staffing allowance of £ 90,000. Staff responsibilities include both constituency and parliamentary work.”

Read the full article: Quality at Rs 500 a day?