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A small correction

On Tue, 25 Aug 1998, Kush Khatri wrote:

> Sanjeev:  Please do not distort the numbers for your own conclusions.
> The web site cleary lists the payscale of 147,000 to 221,000 for the
> Los Angles Police Chief.  You are reading the end number and comparing
> it to the salary of the President of the United States (who by the way
> makes 250,000) which is not correct.  You ignore the word est which
> means estimated.  It also is probalby a 20 year scale.  Which means
> that a police chief starting today will start at 147,000 but will have
> to be in service for at least 20 years to reach 221,000.  

Well: all Police chiefs in LA are on a 4-5 year contract. I can dig out
the average starting salary and the average over the course of 4-5 years.
Nobody goes on a scale for 20 years, I think. The only point was that the
Police is paid hugely, even comparable to the President of USA.

I am not drawing any 'lessons' from this except that it confirms my
fundamental belief that government ought to be doing three things:

a) security (police, army)
b) providing public goods (which individuals find it difficult to provide)
c) providing good, democratic governance.

The arms of security should be compensated far, far above what we do at
the moment in India, primarily for 2 reasons:

i. to compensate for the much higher than normal risk of loss of life
ii. to ensure that competent people enter these disciplines, which require
cutting edge interactions with the people.

> "That all public officials will be paid
> adequate and professional scale salaries, provided a system of merit
> is in place.  Salaries and bonuses of all public officials will be
> adjusted every year to keep up with inflation."   

This sounds OK to me. But remember, while we are trying to eliminate the
key causes of corruption, one of the critical factors is that our police
forces are very poorly paid. Too much hierarchy. Too little
professionalism because their educational qualifications are so low. What
has been happening is that the Pay Commissions, when considering issues in
a framework unrelated to the principles of governance, but attempting to
reward everybody 'equally,' have made virtually all levels in all
departments, comparable in compensation. That is not good policy. We must
rank some people's services higher becuase their quality fundamentally
determines the quality of life of the citizen. 

If I have a lowly paid Minister, lowly paid judge, or lowly paid
policeman, I as a common man am likely to be hurt much more than if my
rural development functionary (BDO) is lowly paid. I know this whole thing
is beginning to sound impossible: after all, from where will funds come,
and why would any group let go its existing, hard-fought, 'status.' I am
clearly touching what is a hornet's nest. 

But this is loud thinking. Many mistakes are likely. Debate will minimize
the mistakes. 

It is not a coincidence, I wish to assure you, that the Police in USA is
far more honest, professional, and competent, than Police in India. 

My apparent focus on the wage component of certain key 'governance service
providers' should not detract from the entire package, which already
mentions professionalization. It is but one of the things needed.


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