Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Best of Both Worlds: Politicians Get Higher Salaries, Local Citizens Need Not Care

While the State CM and ministers will draw higher salaries than Union Ministers and MP's, the reassuring thought is that State salaries are mostly paid from the Indian Treasury by Indian taxpayers. So who cares - Right?

Rich Durbar

Ishfaq Mir (Rising Kashmir)

New Package Old Package
CM Rs 70000 40,300
Minister Rs 65000 40,300
MLA/MLC Rs 60000 40,300
Pension MLA/MLC: Rs 17500 12,500

Jammu: Much to their delight, the ministers and legislators are set to get an average salary hike of at least Rs 25,000 a month, with effect from September 2009, amounting to an increase of 62.5 per cent over the previous salaries.

Jammu and Kashmir will thus become the first State to have the salaries of Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State, MLAs and MLCs higher than Union Ministers and Members of Parliament.

Likewise, there is also reason for the pensioners to cheer up: a hike of Rs 5000 (40 per cent) is also on anvil.

The new salary package will put an extra burden of Rs three crore a month on the State exchequer.

The development comes at a time when over 4.5 lakh employees are on warpath, seeking benefits of the Sixth Pay Commission, even as the Government claims it was running short of funds to pay employees' arrears.

Official sources told Rising Kashmir that the salary hike is certain and the legislators will get the benefits from September 2009. “It is 100 per cent certain,” they said.

A proposal to increase the pension of former legislators, pending before the State Legislature and that would exceed the pension drawn by a former MP, is also on cards. The MLAs and MLCs stand to gain 40 per cent in their pension.

Presently the MLAs and MLCs are drawing a pension of Rs 12,500 and, after the hike, it will be Rs 18,000 - equalling the salary of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members.
The monthly salary of MLAs and MLCs in the State is presently at par with that of the Chief Minister and Ministers (both Cabinet and MoS rank) at Rs 40,300. Till 2007, the salary of legislators was Rs 12,000, which was hiked twice in a six-month period: initially upto Rs 20,000 and then Rs 40,300.

Now, the raised salaries will be Rs 60,000 for MLAs and MLCs, Rs 65,000 for ministers and Rs 70,000 for the Chief Minister. This will be higher than any State of India and even more than a Union Minister, who draws a salary of Rs 35,000 per month, while an MoS gets Rs 32,000.

In view of the security considerations, majority of State legislators enjoy the services of allotted government vehicles and escorts, besides accommodation in both Jammu and Srinagar.

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