Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Poor Politician

Manik Sarkar



The poorest chief minister in India is Manik Sarkar of Tripura.  His total assets amount to a meagre Rs250,000, according to the accounts submitted by him to the election commission.  He has been the chief minister of Tripura 3 times.   When he filed his papers to the election commission in 2008, his total assets amounted to Rs13,920.  The amount rose to lakhs (!) this year not because he fished in the troubled waters of politics but because he inherited his mother’s house whose value is placed at Rs220,000.   It is a tin-roofed house, the usual ones you’ll find anywhere in the state. Mr Sarkar does not own a car.  His bank balance is Rs9720.  He had Rs1080 in his pocket when he was filing the papers to the election commission. 

Mr Sarkar’s monthly salary as chief minister is Rs9200.  He donates the whole amount to the party since he is a genuine communist.  The party gives him a monthly allowance of Rs5000.  That’s communism. 

I’m not an advocate of poverty.  Temperance is different from poverty.

Imagine a situation like this.  Everybody on the earth is like Mr Sarkar.  Nobody is keen on amassing anything for him-/herself.  Everybody shares everything with others.  Can we have a different world?

Imagine an easier situation.  People choose to live with less things.  People decide not to have things which are really not essential.  Luxury is out.  Simple living, but sufficiently comfortable living.  Can we have a better world?


49 comments:

  1. I wish there were more leaders like him, especially if he is a good leader (getting elected 3 times, perhaps he is good?).

    However, our politics is a very costly business, how do poor persons manage to get elected and become CMs? That sounds like a mistery :)

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    1. Sunil ji, if you have ever been to Tripura you will understand that it's not a mystery. Even other states in the Northeast of India will teach you the same lesson. People struggle to survive there. Basic survival is a problem especially in Tripura.

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  2. Hi TM,

    You've raised a valid question, even I've been clamoring for an answer to this confusing question.
    However, I guess, the creators of this universe thought that if everything were to go steady and smooth then it would become to live in this place.

    So, to add some spice to life, they decided to add emotions, desires, wants and other human feelings and characteristics.

    Regards

    Jay
    My Newest Blog Post | My Entry to Indiblogger Get Published

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Wonderful question, Jay. But the problem lies in looking at your fellow beings. If there is one dog going hungry in my country, then my country is not free, said the Mahatma [I'm not quoting, but from memory]. When an individual tries to grab in order to make his life secure or (worse) luxurious, then begins the problem. And that's what we are doing today.

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  3. This is a great example. There are others too, but mostly within the traditional communists. What I am seeing these is younger people choosing to live in this manner and contribute their time, energy and learning to help others. I do believe this is the best of times to be living in. Who knows if we will not see the world you describe in our lifetime?

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    1. The world will have to change, dear Subhorup. With all the natural calamities like water shortage. It will change. But for the better or the worse. That will depend on who becomes the leader.

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  4. But truly Matheikal, do you expect yourself to be like this CM? Sorry, I would not be like him, even if were to beg off from the lifestyles of many other politicians. I see no reason why I should be.

    He is no exemplar. He cannot be one.

    RE

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    1. Not exactly like him, but somewhat. My wants and desires are few.

      Who is an exemplar - to whom? Who has such responsibility in this world? You have to be yourself and I have to be myself. What the self is should not be determined by frivolous economic concerns, that's all.

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    2. SD said that this guy is a "great example", and you let it slide. That is the basis of my "exemplar" statement.

      You could have asked him too.

      RE

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  5. It is a heart-warming news, TM. Uruguayan president José Mujica donates 90% of his salary and lives at a rundown farmhouse belonging to his wife. And no, the place is not bristling with servants. He has been dubbed 'the poorest president of the world'. Apart from him, he has only a three-legged dog for company. You may want to see this BBC video:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-20334136

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    1. Thanks for adding this info, Uma. It's heartening to know there are such people too. And it may inspire one or two persons more. And more.

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  6. I totally agree with you when you wonder if we can be less greedy as individuals and at least attempt to get the disparity between the super-rich and the abject poor down. P.Sainath has made some powerful point in this context. You can find some good videos of his on youtube. Very relevant issue you raise here...
    In this context, I just enjoyed reading this in today's The Hindu:
    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/stop-subsidising-the-rich/article4354518.ece

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    1. Thanks, Deepesh, for the link to Sainath's article.

      It's the atrocious disparity that really creates the problem. It tempts those on the lower rungs too much.

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  7. It's something incredible, but true. After reading the post, I just pinched myself to make sure that it happens in India. I just wish to have politicians like Manik Sarkar, thinking my wishes are horses.

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    1. Umashankar Pandey has mentioned the Uruguayan president above in his comment. There could be many others as indicated by Subhorup (also above). Such people, unfortunately, don't get much attention and hence remain unknown beyond their surroundings.

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  8. It is nice to note simple living has some followers in our political arena. May the CM of Tripura continue to live by example.Our late Mr. Kamaraj came to my mind. He too
    was an example.

    The President of Uruguay too fits in this style of living. Examples are there for us to follow, if we want to.

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    1. Dear Pattu, let's us hope that their tribe will increase rapidly.

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  9. Great leaders. Hope so we have these type of Leaders in every state.

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  10. When I read your title I said to myself - this, I've got to see! He is luckier, freer and more respected than all those wealth amassing, uncaring and dishonest politicians who we all despise.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Indeed. Wealth need not be a criterion for respectability and often it is not. If we can create a society where the criteria (or values) change, we can evolve a better world.

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  11. Incredible, Do we really find such person in India (leave alone politicians). If there could more communist like him, communism wouldn't have been in such a rut.

    I thank you for sharing this information and restoring my faith in dwindling political ideology. All is not finished!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. One of the basic tenets of communism is that it can succeed only when everyone in the community (nation) accepts it. Communism failed because there are always individuals who are selfish and hence will defeat the ideal of communism.

      Why, then, did I post this? Not because I think communism can be made practical, but because I see Mr Sarkar as an example of leaders who can make a gradual difference. His example can inspire people to find values other than wealth and acquisitiveness. Sharing and caring, simplicity and temperance can become values that may be sought after if there are more leaders like Mr Sarkar.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. Good post. There are people who are powerful yet humble and more responsible. The heading would have been more apt if it was " A Honest Politician" rather than a poor politician. Rest of the politicians are poor because they amass wealth for themselves making others poor.

    Here is a link where you will find the life of a President of a Country leading a simple life.

    http://muslimvilla.smfforfree.com/index.php?topic=1814.0

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    1. Yes. I agree he must be called richest politician in terms of honesty & intergrity rather than calling him as poor politician

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    2. Thanks, Fayaz, for the link to Iranian President Ahmedinejad's example. Two other readers mentioned above the example of the Uruguayan president Jose Mujica. More such leaders can make a meaningful change in the world. At any rate, the world stands in need of a change.

      Both an "honest politician" and a "poor politician" are oxymorons today. But "an honest politician" would have been a positive title. Thanks for the suggestion.

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    3. Yes, Shetty, Mr Sarkar is very rich in terms of integrity.

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  14. I don't know if we ever get anymore such politicians...neither do i expect.
    but i can make sure that if I ever get such an administrative post...I'll do the same...

    Thankyou for sharing this fact, sir.

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    1. It's difficult to expect such politicians, Ashish, I know. Yet there may be a few like the ones mentioned by a few readers above.

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  15. There are many politicians who are like Manik Sarkar,but media never recognizes persons like him.
    I will call Mr.Politician as the RICHEST POLITICIAN IN TERMS OF HONESTY & INTEGRITY.If one is contented with what he has richness is only a reflection on other peoples mind.
    Mr.A.K.Antony is another politician who is the poorest among the members of the Union Cabinet.
    Persons like EMS Namboodiripad lived a life like that of Manik Sarkar,even though he had inherited huge property which was donated entirely to the party.
    Another actor cum politician and was Chief Minister of Tamilanadu donated his entire property to his party AIADMK besides donating to charitable institutions.
    We have many of them but we look only at the corrupt who made lot of wealth rather than those who gave everything and earned richest esteem among the public

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    1. It is always good to have some principles and follow them honestly. There are people who live happily with two pairs of shirts because they cannot manage more than that. Even if they have money, they think it unnecessary to buy more, the idea behind is, 'many people in this world remain hungry because there are some who eat in excess.'

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    2. Yes, dear Shetty, I have mentioned Mr A K Antony in many places as an example. EMS was a paragon of many virtues in this regard. May we have many more like them. I'm sure more leaders of their type can revolutionise the whole lifestyle of people.

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    3. Dear Ms Bhagwanti,
      first of all, thank you for being here and that too with a comment.

      Your comment reminds me of a sentence from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobiography: "It's more comfortable... Two shirts and two pairs of undershorts: you wear one while the other's drying. What else does anyone need?" People can indeed live happily with much less things than they can afford!

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  16. Wish some day there will be more leaders like Mr.Manik Sarkar in our country. Salute his excellence. [www.ajeethboaz.com]

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  17. Its unbelievable isn't it? But that is what true communism is all about. When 70% of his people do not earn more than 5000 a month, how can he lead a lavish life? Having seen communists like him very closely since childhood, I am not surprised at all. I wish I could be like him or may be could gather enough courage to think of being like him.

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    1. If more and more people start thinking like you, there will be a revolution, Arnab.

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  18. A very good example for others to see

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    1. When a CM does it, the example is brilliant.

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  19. Is it really possible to live a life like Mr Sarkar, when we live in a country like India? With 5000 in Bangalore, It would really be difficult to lead a decent life!!

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    1. The amount may vary from place to place, dear friend. It's the not the amount that matters but the attitude, the principle, the vision. Please refer to the comment by Arnab Maity above.

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  20. Thanks for sharing this info. Unbelievable but true!

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    1. Most welcome, Ravi ji. There are a few other leaders like him outside India too as some comments above show.

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  21. Hey guys,
    Wanted to share some stuff with you. I used Vistaprint for some embroidered t-shirts with logo. Damn impressed. Check it out if you can.

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  22. Well if all the numbers are correct then we need more politicians like him.

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    1. I guess the numbers are indeed correct. Tripura is not a state where one can become an Ambani!

      Mr Sarkar has his vision clear, if I'm not mistaken.

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  23. I don't think that I am qualified enough to give a proper opinion on this. The debate between communism and capitalism is ever-lasting. We cannot be sure that the mentality of 'wanting less' will contribute to the development of a nation as a whole. But I feel that when people compete against one another, the society as a whole achieve greater things.

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    1. Well, competing with one another is one sure way of keeping the battle going on endlessly. Development has many meanings. We can be developed with much less paraphernalia and gadgets! The latest model of a gadget for which I keep discarding my previous ones (adding to the dunghill of electronic waste) does not certainly make me more developed... Yes, it's an endless debate. Thanks for sharing your view.

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