Skip to main content

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?


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 :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
    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

      Delete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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.

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  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
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  12. 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

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

      Delete
    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.

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

      Delete
  13. 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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  14. 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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.'

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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!

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

    ReplyDelete
  16. 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.

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

      Delete
  17. A very good example for others to see

    ReplyDelete
  18. 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!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  19. Thanks for sharing this info. Unbelievable but true!

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

      Delete

  20. 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.

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  22. 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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

An Aberration of Kali Yuga

Are we Indians now living in an aberrant period of history? A period that is far worse than the puranic Kali Yuga? A period in which gods decide to run away in fear of men? That’s a very provocative question, isn’t it, especially in a time when people are being arrested for raising much more innocuous questions than that? But I raise my hands in surrender because I’m not raising this question; the Malayalam movie that Maggie and I watched is. Before I go to the provocations of the movie, I am compelled to clarify a spelling problem with the title of the movie. The title is Bhramayugam [ ഭ്രമയുഗം] in Malayalam. But the movie’s records and ads write it as Bramayugam [ ബ്രമയുഗം ] which would mean the yuga of Brama. Since Brama doesn’t mean anything in Malayalam, people like me will be tempted to understand it as the yuga of Brahma . In fact, that is how I understood it until Maggie corrected me before we set off to watch the movie by drawing my attention to the Malayalam spelling

Karma in Gita

I bought a copy of annotated Bhagavad Gita a few months back with the intention of understanding the scripture better since I’m living in a country that has become a Hindu theocracy in all but the Constitution. After reading the first part [chapters 1 to 6] which is about Karma, I gave up. Shelving a book [literally and metaphorically] is not entirely strange to me. If a book fails to appeal to me after a reasonable number of pages, I abandon it. The Gita failed to make sense to me just like any other scripture. That’s not surprising since I’m not a religious kind of a person. I go by reason. I accept poetry which is not quite rational. Art is meaningful for me though I can’t detect any logic in it. Even mysticism is acceptable. But the kind of stuff that Krishna was telling Arjuna didn’t make any sense at all. To me. Just a sample. When Arjuna says he doesn’t want to fight the war because he can’t kill his own kith and kin, Krishna’s answer is: Fight. If you are killed, you win he

Kabir the Guru - 1

Kabirvad Kabirvad is a banyan tree in Gujarat. It is named after Kabir, the mystic poet and saint of the 15 th century. There is a legend behind the tree. Two brothers are in search of a guru. They have an intuitive feeling that the guru will appear when they are ready for it. They plant a dry banyan root at a central spot in their courtyard. Whenever a sadhu passes by, they wash his feet at this particular spot. Their conviction is that the root will sprout into a sapling when their guru appears. Years pass and there’s no sign of any sapling. No less than four decades later, the sapling rises. The man who had come the previous day was a beggarly figure whom the brothers didn’t treat particularly well though they gave him some water to drink out of courtesy. But the sapling rose, after 40 years! So the brothers went in search of that beggarly figure. Kabir, the great 15 th century mystic poet, had been their guest. The legend says that the brothers became Kabir’s disciples. The b

Raising Stars

Bringing up children is both an art and a science. The parents must have certain skills as well as qualities and value systems if the children are to grow up into good human beings. How do the Bollywood stars bring up their children? That is an interesting subject which probably no one studied seriously until Rashmi Uchil did. The result of her study is the book titled Raising Stars: The challenges and joys of being a Bollywood parent . The book brings us the examples of no less than 26 Bollywood personalities on how they brought up their children in spite of their hectic schedules and other demands of the profession. In each chapter, the author highlights one particular virtue or skill or quality from each of these stars to teach us about the importance of that aspect in bringing up children. Managing anger, for example, is the topic of the first chapter where Mahima Chowdhary is our example. We move on to gender equality, confidence, discipline, etc, and end with spirituality whi

Kabir the Guru – 2

Read Part 1 of thi s here . K abir lived in the 15 th century. But his poems and songs are still valued. Being illiterate, he didn’t write them. They were passed on orally until they were collected by certain enthusiasts into books. Vipul Rikhi’s book, Drunk on Love: The Life, Vision and Songs of Kabir , not only brings the songs and poems together in one volume but also seeks to impart the very spirit of Kabir to the reader. Kabir is not just a name, the book informs us somewhere in the beginning. Kabir is a tradition. He is a legend, a philosophy, poetry and music. I would add that Kabir was a mystic. Most of his songs have something to do with spirituality. They strive to convey the deep meaning of reality. They also question the ordinary person’s practice of religion. They criticise the religious leaders such as pandits and mullahs. Though a Muslim, Kabir was immensely taken up by Ram, the Hindu god, for reasons known only to him perhaps. Most of the songs are about the gr