New Delhi, 30 July-2014(FP): Given their political track record, if we were to guess the professional backgrounds of our MPs we would likely assume that most would be traffic constables in Mumbai peak hour traffic, given their aptitude for shouting. But we’d be wrong. As the Lok Sabha website reveals, our politicians are a multi-talented lot.
PM Narendra Modi has chosen to call himself a social worker. He has for company the likes of SP’s Dimple Yadav, Congress’ Jyotiraditya Scindia and Varun Gandhi. Of course, with Modi, this sound exactly right for a PM who has promised to usher ‘achche din’ into the country — though we must note that the qualification section alongside Prime Minister Modi’s name has been left blank.
Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, identifies himself as a ‘strategy consultant’, which makes him one of a kind in the Parliament – no pun intended. And he has added a long list of degrees alongside his name which includes an M Phil in Developmental Economics. This choice of profession is a bit ironic as The Times of India notes, “Rahul Gandhi’s strategies may not have worked for the Congress in last elections, but in his declaration to the Lok Sabha, the Congress vice-president does not shy away from listing himself as a ‘strategy consultant’.”
The big favourite, however, seems to be ‘agriculturist’, as in experts in agriculture. Of the 543 Parliamentarians, 143 are listed as the same, including big names like Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, BJP MP former Mumbai Police chief Satyapal Singh, Uma Bharti and Ram Kripal Yadav and former UP CM and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
But for agriculturists, they seem to hold all the wrong qualifications. For example BJP MP Rajesh Verma holds a masters degree in Economics, Dr Thambidurai of AIADMK holds MA., M Phil., M Litt., Ph.D in Economics. From degrees on engineering to masters in business administration, from doctorates in Physics to bachelors in literature, our agriculturist-Parliamentarians come with myriad qualifications.
Not only that, several of these ‘agriculturists’ have wide-ranging business interests including real estate. Congress’ Ashok Chavan, who also identifies himself as an agriculturist owns real estate worth crores, sugar mills and several education institutions. In fact, in his poll affidavit, Chavan had declared that though he owns Rs 2.6 crore worth of ‘agricultural’ land, he owns Rs 9.10 crores worth non-agricultural land.
BJP’s Nihal Chand of Ganganagar in Rajasthan, the minister accused in a 2011 rape case, holds a B.A. from Ajmer University and is a four-term MP though he is just 43 years old. He has been in full-time politics since he was in his 20s, having learnt the ropes from his father who was an MLA. He too has somehow found time to also be an agriculturist.
It’s only ironic that with so many ‘experts’ in agriculture sitting in the Parliament, India has one of the highest farmer suicide rates in the country. In 2012, NCRB data showed that close to 14,000 farmers have committed suicide due to debts, failing crops and crops rotting in cold storages. Obviously, the ‘agriculturists’ remain occupied with other things, while the real practitioners of agriculture wither away under debts and lack of infrastructure.