Does anyone want to be a millionaire? There are two ways to achieve that reputable status: Be a Congressman or a cricketer. Perhaps one should add another route these days and that is to get a degree in Business Administration. According to the media two students of the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru are receiving salaries “in excess of Rs 1 crore for the first time ever”. The highest salary another Management Institute’s students are getting is Rs 40.5 lakh per annum or approximately Rs 3.33 lakh per month. But these figures are nothing compared to what Indian cricketers are getting.
Cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni earned $31.4 million (around Rs 179.18 crore) in 2012. He makes $28 million (Rs 114 crore) from endorsements. Sachin Tendulkar has been ranked by a Forbes Report with total earnings of $22 million, including endorsement earnings of $18 million. Then there are IPL crorepatis, according to The Indian Express (April 22, 2012) like Yusuf Pathan, earning Rs. 10.92 crore per season, Harbhajan Singh Rs. 6.76 crore and Praveen Kumar Rs 4.16 crore – all per season.
At the end of the cricket series in England when India came out victorious, each player received a paltry sum of Rs 1 crore. In 2004-2005 the BCCI opened its purse strings to first class cricketers and a player, if he appeared in all matches for his state team for a 2.5 months period, took home anywhere between Rs 11 to Rs 12 lakh, that is a daily remuneration of Rs 35,000 – chicken feed, one might say.
Way back in the early fifties I was in close touch with a distinguished cricketer – an opening batsman – called Vijay Merchant. When I asked him how much he earned playing for the Ranji Trophy, he said it was Rs 10 a day. Playing in IPL, say a cricketer like Praveen Kumar who played in six matches without taking a single wicket earned Rs 4.16 crore. Messers Dhoni and Tendulkar should be laughing their hearts out at such paltry sums.
Politicians, of course, don’t have to indulge in physical activities. They live in a different world where they play a different game, as do the parties they belong to. Parties make money on their own. A report released by the Karnataka Election Watch in August 1912 showed that the Congress Party led with an income of Rs 1,492.35 crore. That will explain how Congress made it in the 2013 State election.
For an average asset value of MLAs in the 12th State Assembly (2004-2008) increased by a whopping 364 per cent and that of Ministers by 665 per cent in a span of just four years. The Indian Express quoted a report by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) which said Karnataka MLAs are the richest in South India with an average asset value of Rs 5.98 crore and among the Legislators, the Congress had the largest number of rich MLAs. The average assets of Congress MLAs in 2008 stood at Rs. 9.55 crore. The richest Karnataka MLA is a Congressman, Priya Kishna, with total assets to the tune of Rs 960 crore. Compared to that the riches acquired by Andhra Pradesh MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy from Rs 36 lakh to Rs 365 crore is a pittance. In Karnataka, according to one source, over 92 per cent of MLAs are crorepatis while only 60 per cent of Meghalaya MLAs can be called as such. All of which remind me of two sisters from the Scheduled Castes, Akku and Leela who I have personally met, who have been working for a local Government Women Teachers’ Training Institute on a monthly salary of Rs 15 a month for the last 42 years. Their work is scavenging, cleaning some sixteen toilets twice every day or sometimes oftener, depending on circumstances. It is claimed that after the women approached the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) seeking relief in 2001, the Education Department even stopped paying them their meagre salary! Their plight, according to media reports, came to light after a local president of Human Rights Protection Foundation, Ravindranath Shanbhag, took up the matter and followed up the case right up to the Supreme Court. First the case was taken to the Karnataka Tribunal. It ruled in favour of the women. Whereupon the government took the matter to the Karnatak High Court which, too, ruled in the women’s favour. Whereupon, the government, instead of being decent, went to the Supreme Court which, too, ruled in the women’s favour in 2010. Mr Shanbhag is quoted as saying: “The women are still waiting to get their benefits. Is there any other Court above the Supreme Court that can give justice to these women?” According to law, both the women should each get over Rs 10 lakh as payment of arrears, thanks to revised lists of salaries. A former Karnataka Chief Minister who was approached for justice is reported to have said that if these two women are paid what is legitimately due to them, as per rules and regulations, there are hundreds more in a similar situation and where is the money for compensating them all? Meanwhile, just think of this: In three years, Ministers of Maharashtra Government have spent Rs 21 crore on maintenance and renovation of their bungalows.