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RE:incentives to join public life



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I have strong objection to making fuzzy statements like 
"...the political will to pay our representatives a compensation which is 
comparable to the investment made in contesting elections..."
This kind of statement can never be the basis to formulate policies on what
a law maker ought to earn. 
The compensation for a law maker certainly ought to be reasonable enough to
allow him/her to pay his bills, and by paying bill, one must never include
the bills that come out of spending in election campaigns or expensive
parties. Paying bills simply means what it means to the ordinary citizens,
such as paying bills for electricity, water and other essential utilities,
and everything else that a head of a family earns a living for.
A reasonable compensation similar to a class one officer such as yourself,
ought to be enough for a law maker. After five years, if the law maker fails
to win an election, too bad, government is not responsible for that. If a
former law maker ends up becoming jobless, he/she should be able to claim
some minimal living allowance with the condition that the individual works
to find a gainful employment and once he is gainfully employed again he
should not get anything until he/she reaches the old age of say 70, that is
when he should be qualified for a proposed social security benefit just like
every other old citizen of India.
Beyond that, making visits to his/her constituency ought to come as part of
the official responsibility of the legislator, and appropriate funding
subject to accounts auditing, ought to be done in order to ensure that the
law maker is provided with the necessary means to do his/her job, but none
of the money allocated for purposes other then his personal income ends up
in his/her pocket, or in the pocket of his/her friends. This is public
money. 
As for the numerous requests for donations that a legislator gets as you
say, his/her compensation should have nothing to do with that. A legislator
is free to make donations (tax deductible in some cases) out of his/her
personal income just like you and I are, and the extent of his personal
donations should purely be determined by how generous he/she is, how much
wealth he/she has generated through legal enterprise, and what his/her
personal liabilities are. The talk of fixing compensation of a law maker
should never get into such topics. 
As far as election campaign expenses are concerned, there is no excuse, this
has to be fought by local people through local organization, raising money
from local citizens to whatever extent it is possible, with complete
accountability of how the money was raised, who gave how much money, and
that no big corporation bought election for one or the other individual
candidate. But this later topic is a separate subject that must be discussed
under election system reform, and should have nothing to do with what a law
maker earns. 
Those who wish to get a return for the money they spend running for a
elected office (if they spend personal money at all), through higher
compensation or corrupt practices don't belong here, and must think of some
other for-profit enterprise where they can afford to make profit without the
possibility of going to jail. To me, an ordinary citizen, who is compelled
with the call of duty to serve his nation as a public official, does raise
money by his shear ability to energize local population to donate money for
his campaign fund, which is a separate legal entity accountable to the
public as well as election commission. He uses this legally raised money to
run his campaign and not dip on his personal retirement savings. Therefore,
once the election is won, he does not have to indulge into corrupt practices
to make up for his personal loss. 
You can criticize this approach as being too difficult, impractical, or
simplistic, but nonetheless, this is the right approach, which offers a
level playing field to every citizen.
More later. 
Umesh Tiwari


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