oney is not everything but money makes all the difference in life. Word has come that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is tired of holding the heavy responsibility and would want to quit in a few months’ time. What he’s most upset with is that his salary of 150,000 pounds, equal to nearly a crore and a half in Indian rupee terms, is too low. By all standards, it is. Why it remains so is a curious question.
By contrast, US President Donald Trump has a salary of $400,000 a year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s salary is in the range of $370,000 and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has a salary of $340,000. As a leading journalist, Boris Johnson earned more than what he now earns as PM. Those in this profession generally get peanuts as salary. Johnson was lucky. As a leading media personality, he earned big money from lectures too. VIP presence at an august gathering makes a difference though no pearl of wisdom might often emanate from such lectures.
With six children in tow and a divorced wife getting maintenance allowance from him, the PM’s cup of financial woes must be full. PM is the chief executive of the nation. A PM and his family will need to maintain a decent standard of life.
This may sound funny to us in India. We assume a PM anywhere in the world would normally be loaded with cash since that is what we have come to perceive. In many countries across the world, however, the PM is usually not a crony of any business house, unlike India. Perquisites are what Indian politicians get in a handsome manner while their salaries are kept low.
It should be in the fitness of things if the salaries of those in power in any country are kept at reasonably high levels matching the salaries and benefits in the rest of the world. Why the UK has not done this is also a commentary on the state of affairs of a nation that was once the epicentre of an empire that never saw the sunset. Politics itself is going through ups and downs in the UK as is evident from the chaos and confusion that Brexit has created.
Clearly, power brings with it a status and this is more important than money. It is unusual for a PM to quit office because his earnings are low. In public life there are many who mint money. Eminent lawyers and doctors, for instance, charge fees by the minute. They make big money in a matter of a few days; mostly unaccounted, meaning tax-free. Big-time lawyers are reticent about taking up a judicial posting, as there is a mismatch between the money a lawyer earns and what a judge gets as salary. Although that too has changed for judges in current day India. Money may not be the sole means of subverting the system for personal aggrandizement is what we see today.
Money makes a big difference to life. But happiness is not necessarily linked to wealth or money.