Comparing their salary with what they have to pay for food in the Parliament canteen could explain some puzzling calculations by MPs and Planning Commission folk
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he only place in India where food is cheap:
Rakesh Chaturvedi suggested that instead of the Food Security Bill, let the Government give food to the poor at the Parliament canteen rates.
Good idea. That may allay the corporate media’s fears that the Food Security Bill may further strain India’s weakening economy.
Taking off from this interesting price list, some idle research on this rainy Sunday morning yielded the following information: There has been a noticeable shift in the age profile of MPs in Lok Sabha. The percentage of older MPs has increased significantly. In 1952, only 20% of MPs were 56 years or older. In 2009, this figure had increased to 43%. In the 1st Lok Sabha, there was no MP over the age of 70. This number has risen to 7% in the current Lok Sabha. The number of MPs below 40 has decreased from 26% in 1952 to 14% in the current Lok Sabha.
As for salary – the salary of an MP is Rs 50,000, tax-free, plus a Daily Allowance of Rs. 2,000/- per day when the MP attends parliament sessions.
Comparing their salary with what they have to pay for food in the Parliament canteen could explain some puzzling calculations by MPs and Planning Commission folk:
Full meal at Rs 12 , said Raj Babbar once, doubtless in his trademark understated style of dialogue delivery.
And the Tendulkar Committee in 2009 decreed that an income of 560 rupees per month in urban India and 368 rupees per month in rural India is enough to purchase 2,100 calories and 2,400 calories of nutrition respectively. Aarti Sethi did some calculations of her own in Let Them Eat Gobi, and came to the conclusion that “unless the Planning Commission is planning to distribute compressed meals in the form of pills, such as those that astronauts eat in spaceships, to the urban poor, I am unsure of how they think 560 rupees can buy anyone anything.”
Put this alongside the fact that Indian bureaucrats of the select services (IAS and IPS) have recently been allowed to get free medical treatment abroad at our expense, which Harsh Taneja brought to our notice.
Suddenly, the calculations of the poverty line, daily nutritional allowance and how much it costs to buy it, and the general sense of All Izz Well with the poor, all starts to make perfect sense.
As the Americans say – you do the math!