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Government upset that their (short) working hours highlighted

January 2, 2008

Off and on our media writes about how little our government works. There was this article in the Times of India about the fact that our elected representatives enjoy a 60-day working year, and this time it was about the Delhi Assembly. But the next thing I heard was that the Speaker of the House had issued a contempt notice to the newspaper for publishing the story.

Now let’s see what was so bad about what the newspaper said about the Delhi Assembly. The article starts off thus:

Ever heard of a job that has a 60-hour working year, or about 10 minutes a day, and costs the employer about Rs 40,000 a month? Probably not, but then you aren’t a member of the Delhi legislative assembly — at least not most of you. The Delhi assembly will wind up 2007 having had all of 20 days of “sittings” at an average of less than four hours a day. These four hours include typically a break of roughly 40 minutes for tea, not to speak of time lost to disruptions.

The information was taken from the Delhi assembly website itself…which has the details of MLA’s working hours. The reporter arrived at this calculation after he took away some 623 minutes (minutes lost to tea and other disruptions) and the total he arrived at was approximately 62 hours of actual work in the House in 2007. The newspaper has also given figures of previous years…and from these figures it looks like these (short) working hours aren’t anything unusual.

So the newspaper has certainly not done anything wrong. This isn’t even ‘secret’ information got via the RTI (Right To Information Act) and nor is it a journalistic sting…but nevertheless the government has been stung! They hate it that these facts have been highlighted. This is how the Assembly reacted:

MLA Jile Singh Chauhan moved a resolution in the House on Thursday condemning the article and demanding that action be taken against the national daily. “This is the House of the Delhi Assembly, not that of Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. How could the paper have written things like this,” said Chauhan…The issue cuts across party lines with MLAs from both the ruling Congress and the BJP vociferously speaking against the newspaper and unanimously passing the resolution moved by Chauhan.

Even the Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, was upset. She said:

If this hadn’t been a headline we would’ve ignored it, such articles come out everyday. However, this article has made serious allegations against the Assembly, that of dereliction of duty and we cannot take this lying down. Reporters should stay within their limits just as we do…Dikshit further told the House today that as far as attendance is concerned, the Delhi Assembly records the highest attendance in the country — “whether it is the attendance of MLAs from the ruling party or the opposition”.

Dixit also points out that they do their work well enough, by which I guess she means that they do it despite the limited working hours. But working hours matter! Why don’t they realise it?

This is typical of the political and business culture in India. If you are a big fish the question asked is: How dare anyone question us! Catch the little guys, not the bigwigs. Note the reference by the Speaker to U.P and Bihar. Why should he single out U.P. and Bihar? Aren’t they following a culture set by Delhi, the capital of our country? Isn’t each and every state doing it?

The rot after all starts at the top.

Related Reading: Indians have long working hours
Comparision of holidays of different countries

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2008 5:51 am

    Yes, those remarks were remarkably naked.
    The politicians, across party lines, are brazen about their holy cow status. How dare anyone question, parody or revile them? The rot started from the top, but has sunk in right down into the soil. Generations will continue to be mired in corruption. And all thanks to the visionary Nehru family for implementing socialism learnt in Oxford……

  2. January 2, 2008 6:38 am

    working 10 minutes a day they can get us into so much trouble….. imagine if the worked like the rest of us 🙂

    happy new year…

  3. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 2, 2008 7:15 am

    //…This is the House of the Delhi Assembly, not that of Uttar Pradesh or Bihar…//

    For that statement, the UP and Bihar assemblies must drag Chauhan into court for defamation.

    //…a job that … costs the employer about Rs 40,000 a month…//

    This, I suppose is only in terms of direct salary and allowances. Has anyone tried to assign value to all the perks and privileges that these jokers enjoy, besides all their income — often incalculable — from the 3 Gs: graft, gifts and “gratuities”?

  4. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 2, 2008 7:50 am

    Going beyond the working hours or days of elected representatives, I often wonder about some public servants/institutions — particularly the courts. Why, with so many millions of cases pending, must courts have vacations, like kindergarten schools? Why not just the normal EL, CL, OH etc. for INDIVIDUAL employees (from judges downwards)?

  5. January 2, 2008 10:00 am

    It would be appropriate to introduce “No work, No pay” concept . But who is the competent authority to do this? Only voters have to keep this in mind and elect the right candidates.

  6. wishtobeanon... permalink
    January 2, 2008 11:22 am

    Is this democracy? I am beginning to wonder…
    I read the second article which also says that they hinted the editor could go to jail!

  7. January 2, 2008 5:12 pm

    Thanks all.
    Harini, 🙂 And happy new year to you too.
    Vivek, our whole system works like a tortoise…and as for our judiciary, it’s totally clogged and I have written on the subject
    Old Sailor, rdoc and wishtobeanon, thanks.

  8. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 2, 2008 5:28 pm


    Thanks. I went to the link you provided, and you do mention judges taking too many holidays. But my concern is about the system of entire courts going on vacation.

    Of course one can perhaps not expect rational thinking on this from those concerned. Can a profession, with even a dress code that militates against our climatic realities, be expected to make rational decisions on matters of much greater import?

  9. January 2, 2008 8:54 pm

    Allow me two post links to two related articles
    1]Political Parties should foot the bill for wasted Parliament days!
    2]Up to 46 % of the time wasted due to frayed tempers of Indian Parliament Members

    Happy new year Nita

  10. January 2, 2008 9:02 pm

    @ xntricpundits:

    Thanks. Nice to see you here, wondering what happened to you. If you go public with your posts, let me know.

  11. vish permalink
    January 2, 2008 11:02 pm

    they are probably spending lot of time with the people who elected them…:))

  12. January 3, 2008 2:52 pm

    rightly said harini 🙂

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