The Telangana government’s passing of a bill on Tuesday to effect a near 400% hike in the salaries of state lawmakers is par for the course. The Delhi government had approved a similar hike in December. And members of Parliament voted to give themselves a threefold hike in 2010 with a proposal for a 200% increase now pending. Pay hikes are not in themselves a problem; there is no reason for legislators not to be adequately remunerated, keeping cost of living and inflation in mind.
But India is the only major democracy where legislators can determine their remuneration with no terms and conditions—no linking to salaries of top bureaucrats as in France and Japan, no cap on extra-parliamentary income as in the US, no independent review as in the UK. This is not, surely, the way to run organizations comprising the highest public offices in the land. The perception of probity and avoiding conflict of interest are essential.