Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sidhu in a comedy show -- How much Money does a Punjab Minister need?

Sidhu in a comedy show
How much Money does a Punjab Minister need?

By Amba Charan Vashishth

Noted Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy in one of his famous short stories posed the question: How Much Land does a Man Need? On that analogy arises the query:  How much money does a Punjab Minister, including the new Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, need to make both ends meet?
This question gained currency because of the decision of Sidhu that to continue to work for his popular ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ on television, claiming it was “not office of profit”. He added, “Sometimes I work all 7 days from early morning till 6 pm. So, what I do after 6 pm is nobody's business.”
A jurist has rightly opined that what Sidhu continues to do even after being a minister holding a constitutional office may not be a crime but it certainly militates against the canons of morality.
Courts have repeatedly declared ministers to be public servants. They can be called for duty any time of the day and night depending upon the exigencies. If a bus or train accident, a terror strike or a murder takes place at the dead of night or even later, the administration including minister in charge have to be on their toes even at that odd hour.  So, the Sidhu doctrine “what I do after 6 pm is nobody's business” hardly holds water. Can – and should – Sidhu refuse to perform his duty at odd hours in such an emergent situation?
That is also a far-fetched argument. Why has, then, new Punjab government not withdrawn the ban on private practice by doctors? They also do it after their normal duty hours.
In that case, if a minister or official visits a brother, accepts bribe at his residence, takes part in gambling or other criminal or immoral activities, it is “nobody’s business.
He justifies his TV escapades saying “I do TV appearances to earn money to support my family and run my home."   He said do his critics mean that he “should stop earning?"
Supporting Sidhu’s arguments, Chief Minister Capt. Amrinder Singh said,
"How does one live without adequate income? Do they (those opposing Sidhu's appearance on the TV show) want to make ministers corrupt (by stopping them from earning their livelihood)?"
Do the Punjab CM and his minister mean that the Cabinet ministers are so poorly paid that they cannot make their two ends meet with their ‘meagre’ salary and perks?
``        In Punjab a cabinet minister gets a salary of Rs. 50,000 per month plus a luxury of a fully furnished and provided government bungalow, staff, government vehicle, free water and electricity, no income tax and much more.

Our minister’s claim themselves to be the “servants of the people” whose per capita income according to 2013-14 statistics is Rs 92,638 in Punjab.  If a minister drawing a salary of Rs. 6 lakhs a month plus perks, in the opinion of Punjab CM, needs to raise money for “their livelihood” from other sources, what should the people of Punjab, class IV to Class I officers earning  much less salary do to earn “their livelihood” to run their households?  
What other means will those Punjab ministers adopt to earn their "living" who are not appearing in comedy shows?                                                             ***

No comments: