Indian Politicians; Rich Princes of a Poor People

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Now one may think that these wealthy politicians will be from the well-educated class of India or having clean criminal records. In the case of education, conditions are satisfactory as almost 80 percent of the members in Lok Sabha were graduates, but…

Indian Politicians

India is supposed to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Our politicians quote India as an example of economic growth, democracy and human rights during their discussions in the different talks shows on television. Although governments of India always try to present India as shining and rising which is true about some parts of India, but most of India is neither rising nor shining. Some parts of India are shining and some are blight; there is rising India but there is also the never-rising India. India is the largest democracy in the world, but most of us do not know how this democracy works and who is represented by whom in the parliament of India.

If it is true that India is one of the fastest growing economies, then it is also true that India is home to a quarter of the world’s most hungry people.  It is also true that the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world had declined significantly in the last 30 years, but India is the only country which, 30 years before, was home to one fifth of the world’s poorest people, but today, a third of the world’s poorest people live in India. According to the World Bank report of 2010, 32.7% of Indians fall below the international poverty line, meaning that 32.7% of Indian cannot even earn $1.25 per day, while 68.7% live on less than US$ 2 per day.

The first Global Slavery Index, published October 2013, confirms that India has been approaching half the world’s slaves – an estimated 13.9 million out of almost 30 million globally, wherein individuals and families, including children, are exploited in slave-like conditions to pay off debts.

India is home to the largest number of illiterate adults in the world. According to a UN report, there are around 900 million illiterate adults in the world, and India still has the highest number of 287 million, amounting to 37% of the global total.

One third of the people in India have left their homes and moved to other parts of India in search of jobs. The Dharavi slum in Mumbai, India, is one of the largest slums in the world, and India has dozens of slums around most of its big cities.

Now let us see another face of India. Let us explore the side of India where everyone is a millionaire. No, it is not about Bollywood movies or Star Plus TV serials where everyone in the movie or TV serial is a millionaire. It is about the democratic houses of the largest democracy and the representatives of a quarter of the world’s hungry and a third of the world’s poor people in these houses.

The two houses of the Indian Parliament, where most of the members are millionaire/billionaire, are the upper house (Rajya Sabha) and lower house (Lok Sabha) of the Parliament of India.

Rajya Sabha (State Assembly) consists of 250 members, 12 of them are nominated by the President of India and the rest are elected by the state and territorial legislatures.

In the current Rajya Sabha that is going to complete its term this year, 219 members submitted their self-sworn affidavits at the time of their election to the Rajya Sabha. The Association of Democratic Reform (ADR) and the National Election Watch (NEW) of India had done analyses of the assets of these members in 2010. According to the analyses, out of 219 members of the Rajya Sabha, 100 members have declared their assets worth more than one crore (10 million) rupees.

The richest member of Rajya Sabha is the industrialist Rahul Bajaj who has declared his assets worth more than Rs. 300 crore (3 billions). M A M Ramaswamy from Karnataka (Janta Dal) and Subarmani Reddy (Congress) declared their assets worth more than Rs 278 crore (2.78 billions) and Rs 272 crore (2.72 billions) respectively.

In 2013, 67% members of the Rajya Sabha, meaning 153 out of 272, were having assets worth more than one crore (10 millions).

In another report published this month, the ARD analyzed data of the 58 new members of the Rajya Sabha. According to the ARD, 50 members (86%) out of 58 new members of Rajya Sabha are millionaires with average assets of Rs. 44.74 crores (447.4 millions). BJP’s Ravindra Kishore Sinha from Bihar (one of the poorest states of India) is the richest among the Rajya Sabha members, with declared assets worth Rs. 857.11 crore (8571.1 millions).

The lower house of the Indian parliament is known as Lok Sabha or House of the People. The total number of the members of this house is 552, elected by the people through elections from different states of India.

This house of the representatives of a third of the poorest people in the world is also made up of millionaire members.

The average assets of the Lok Sabha members elected in the 2004 elections were worth 1.64 crores (16 millions). According to the affidavits submitted by the member of Lok Sabha to the Election Commission, the MPs of Lok Sabha as a group had total assets valued at Rs 878 crore (8.78 billion). The assets of over 50% of the MPs were over 50 lakh (5 million) and over 27% had assets of over Rs.1 crore (10 millions).

In 543 members of Lok Sabha elected in 2009, one in five members had assets worth Rs. 5 crore (50 million), another two in five had assets worth more than 1 crore (10 millions). Out of 543, 315 members of Lok Sabha were having assets worth more than 1 crore (10 millions).

Now one may think that these wealthy politicians will be from the well-educated class of India or having clean criminal records. In the case of education, conditions are satisfactory as almost 80 percent of the members in Lok Sabha were graduates, but 30% members of this Lok Sabha have one or more criminal cases registered against them and 14% (75 members) of them are charged with serious crimes.

Similarly, 14 members out of the 58 new members of Rajya Sabha have criminal cases against them and two have serious criminal charges pending against them.

This is another face of India where economic inequality and the rich-poor divide is something which is spartanly visible. Different Indian economic surveys mention that the poverty is going down, but there is no mention about the rich and poor divide which is widening every year. The richest 10% of Indian society have seen the highest growth while the poorest 10% have seen the slowest increase in incomes in the last few years, and it will be difficult to control this gap between the rich and the poor when a third of the world’s poorest people are represented by millionaires and criminals in the Parliament.

How this gap between the rich and the poor can be decreased was explained by Mr. Nelson Mandela. He said, “There are many people in South Africa who are rich and who can share those riches with those not so fortunate who have not been able to conquer poverty”. If the same is applied in India, the gap between the rich and the poor could be significantly reduced in a short time.

Comments

comments

Atiq is an IT professional, his area of interest are Socio-Politico issues of subcontinent and regional security issues with a special focus on Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Can be reached at atiq@pkkh.tv and tweets at @atiqpkkh.

Discussion11 Comments

  1. In India The Aam Admi Party has come with the same agenda of anti-corruption and clean governance as PTI in Pakistan .I would like to know the authors opinion on the work that PTI has done so far ,and whether the have been able to reduce corruption in society.
    Thanks

    • Thanks Khushal, PTI vows zero tolerance against corruption. Recently KPK governament(PTI) have passed Accountability Commission Bill and its working on Accountability Commission, Accountability Commission will have full powers to take action against any government official or political worker for financial irregularities, embezzlements or unnecessary delay in developmental projects or funds, corruption in recruitments or any sort of irregularities.
      Development projects in KPK are not started yet because hiring of consulatants for the development projects is going on. Once its done then the development projects will also start. So PTI’s real corruption test will start when the flow of the funds with the begining of development projects will instigate.

    • yep he is the same guy. Its not a mansion but a multi-storey tower called Antilia having 27 storeys with double ceiling. Any other building of same height would have 60 storeys. The land on which he built this tower belongs to a muslim yateemkhana trust and was purchased for $3 million while the market value was $24 million perhaps by bribing the orphanage trustees and waqf board.

  2. Thanks Atiq..I can say that once there is an accountability system to take care of the governance the development process will take place automatically as the common man of both the nations is very hard working but only misled by corrupt governance.

    @Zaq…The party resigned a few days back as it raised voice against the ‘vampire’.The corporates have let all the media after him like bloodhound watching his every move,seeking a constant chance to humiliate him but no matter what the paid Indian media can do ,it can never say that AAP is corrupt.

    AAP is the only government to have the courage to bring the Kashmir plebiscite issue into domain of public discussion,but even then they had to change their views after being hounded by the RSS ,VHP and BJP. It’s sad that Indian people prefer to being misled rather than have an honest introspective discussion about their own countrymen.

    As an Indian I am sad to see a possible rise of a Fascist regime that undermines the right of the minorities and threatens to break our cultural fabric to paint it in jingoistic saffron colour.

    Humility, Humanity and Honesty is missing from Indian politics today which AAP is trying to bring into the public discourse but it is facing stiff opposition from the paid media and corrupt officials and ministers.

    • Kushal,I beg to differ from you on various counts.
      1. what makes you worry about the possible rise of a fascist regime? BJP ruled India for 5 years and and is ruling several states and i dont see it as fascist or non-secular force.
      2. Regarding plebiscite in Kashmir, AAP has not made its stand clear and made a statement that Prashant Bhushan’s statement is not the official stand of AAP.
      3. I disagree that humility, humanity and honesty is missing from indian politics. It is there, very much there but unfortunately we have developed a system which lets dishonesty go unpunished. We have allowed gaps between rich and poor to be widened.

      I am also a fan of AAP and prefer it over congress and BJP but i can see the arrogance and obstinacy oozing from its leaders. I hope they realize it soon and give our politics a new direction.

  3. A very reflecting article on India. Just one correction, there are only 545 members in Loksabha including 2 nominated members from Anglo-Indian community and not 552.

    Post independence India evolved into a corrupt political system mainly because of the dominance of one political party Indian National Congress. Whatever opposition parties India has, belong to same corrupt political system except perhaps the communist parties. The recent born Aam Aadmi Party is the only hope for changing the political system but its too new and immature to expect a revolution from them. In a pluralistic society like India there is a lot desired from the governance than mere crusade against corruption.

    Also, having an asset worth a crore is not a big thing i would say as a 500 sq ft apartment in suburban mumbai would be worth more than a crore of rupees (approx 170 thousand USD). But reducing the gap between rich and poor is indeed a big challenge for any government. Its a big curse on India that despite being the richest country in the world in ancient and medieval times, it always had a substantial number of poorest people. In ancient times when hindus ruled, the untouchables had a miserable time. The muslim rulers from Mohd. Bin Qasim to the Mughals were not the native indians and did nothing to improve the lot of those untouchables. The Europeans, were the first who paid attention to the untouchables but they plundered whole of India economically reducing it to a poor country. The lot of the poor people has indeed betterred after independence but not at the desired pace.

    • Agree, total strength of Losabha is 545 but constitution of India allows upto 552 members in losabha including 20 members to represent the union territories and 2 nomianted for Anglo-Indian community.

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