Time to behave

When India made a tryst with destiny some 57 years ago, the fathers of our would-be Republic dreamed of a nation that would be a model of equity. And those elected would seek nothing but service of the people. A system of inequality was the last thing they wanted, having just liberated our people from imperialist tyranny. Parliament, comprising of the two Sabhas, and the legislatures, bicameral or the single House were supposed to be reflective of the principles of equality. The elected representatives were to be the champions of a new India.

That dream, unfortunately has not been realised, “not wholly or in full measure,” to borrow from Nehru’s famous speech at midnight when India woke up to its freedom. The elected representatives who enjoy their status, perquisites of office and many other benefits, far from fulfiling their duties in furthering the dreams of thousands who laid down their lives for freedom, seek more, not for others, but their selves. The not-so-righteous indignation articulated by the members of the Legislative Council last week on getting ‘low-priced’ tickets to IPL matches in Bangalore is one such instance. Their demand that they should have been recipients of high-end tickets, of course free of cost, indicates their exaggerated sense of self-importance. It also highlights, unfortunately, that our representatives’ firm belief that their need is greater than anyone else’s. The chairman of the Council even referred the matter to the privileges committee of the Legislature! This is not the first such instance. Only a few days ago, during the debate over the Bill to amend the Excise Act to provide tax exemption on liquor to foreign consulates based in Bangalore, a few MLAs were graceless enough to demand similar concession on liquor for them.

The public exchequer bears a heavy burden for keeping our MPs and MLAs in comfort. They vote for themselves pay hikes every term, besides perks of office. Apart from pecuniary benefits, they have been beneficiaries of freebies, be it board and lodge, transport and communication. This has bred in them a sense of entitlement. Much responsibility for such arrogant behaviour rests on the civil society which has tolerated their antics. It is time that our elected representatives start behaving with dignity and not make themselves a laughing stock.

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