India is infamous for its corrupt politicians. Corruption in the Indian society has prevailed from time immemorial in one form or the other. The basic inception of corruption started with our opportunistic leaders who have already done great damage to our nation. Corruption in India is a result of the connection between bureaucrats, politicians and criminals. Political corruption is worst in India. The profiles of politicians makes one believe that nowadays politics is only for criminals and criminals are meant to be in politics. Recently, the Government increased the salary of the M.P.’s by 300%, but many of them are unhappy with rise and want the Government to increase their salaries much more.
In 2013, India ranked ninety-fourth out of 179 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, alongside Mongolia and Colombia and below neighbors like China and Sri Lanka. The country has steadily slipped since ranking seventy-second of 179 in 2007, when the report debuted. At a time when politics is dominated by money, muscle power and opportunism, there seems a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. Not everyone is corrupt, there are a few who still uphold some moral and political values. It is my privilege to present Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal who stands out of the crowd. Can you believe it that he is a member of Lok Sabha who is a living example of simplicity and a role model for people to follow.
Arjun Ram Meghwal
When most of his fellow lawmakers draw up to the lower house in sleek Audis, BMWs and bulbous Ambassadors, the 62-year-old member peddles to Parliament on a bicycle – regarded in India as a poor man’s mode of transport. He has a 99% attendance record and zero criminal cases against him. He participates in parliamentary debates and raises points concerning the welfare of his people. The details of his movable assets as declared before the Election Commission are unbelievable. He held a cash of Rs 62,000 between himself and his wife. Deposits in Banks, Financial Institutions and Non-Banking Financial Companies made by him amount to Rs 12, 10,517.Neither he nor his wife holds any bonds, shares and debentures in any companies. They also do not have any investments in NSS, Postal Savings etc. Their total investment in LIC or other insurance Policies amounts to Rs 2,97,557.He owns a Tata Indica-2006 model valued at Rs 2,10,000.His wife possess jewelry worth Rs 19,48,467.The value of Agricultural Land owned by him is just Rs 1,50,000.The non-agricultural land owned by him which includes his house is only Rs 6,15,000. In his home constituency Meghwal enjoys the trust of the common people who look up to him as a role model.
Arjun Ram Meghwal’s life presents an interesting contrast. Initially a weaver, he went on to become an IAS officer and then a Member of Parliament. “I was born in a middle class traditional weaver family of Kismidesar village (Bikaner), where any boy of my age hardly goes to school. During my school and college days I used to weave to support my family and my education,” says Meghwal.He got married when he was in Class VII. After marriage, he continued his studies and graduated in Arts & Law from Sri Dungar College, Bikaner (Rajasthan). What’s more he managed to do his post-graduation from the same college. “My father had strictly warned that he would not allow me to continue my studies further if I failed in any of the exams. It was a very tough time for me because there was no environment to study at my place. But I worked hard and managed to complete my studies,” he says. Along with his job, he started preparing for competitive exams to land in a government job.
He got into Indian Post and Telegraph Department as a telephone operator. While working as a telephone operator, he also pursued his LLB degree while helping his father at the same time. He also fought and won the elections for the post of General Secretary of Telephone Traffic. Meghwal puts forth, “This was a great opportunity for me to understand the relation between policies and politics. I attended many State-level meeting which gave me a good exposure.”
In spite of clearing the written examination, he failed in the interview for Rajasthan Administrative Services. He was shocked as he had been confident of clearing the interview. But he did not give up. He prepared and reappeared in the examination with strong determination to succeed. He cleared it and got selected for State industrial services. Following this, in 1994, he was recruited as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan. He reached the peak, when he was promoted to the Indian Administrative Services and worked as District Collector of Churu district.
As he received immense respect from people, he felt that they looked up to him for help and expected him to play an even greater role. Politics was just the platform to serve this purpose. He took the final leap in 2009, when the Bharatiya Janata Party offered him a ticket for Lok Sabha from Bikaner region. No wonder, he contested the election and won. His ambition is to serve the people to the best of his ability. “I consider this a new beginning and I still have miles to go in the service of people,” he said.
“I am contributing in my own way to the Prime Minister’s call to cut carbon emissions,” said Mr. Meghwal as he parked his red and black Hercules bicycle, with a sign carrying his name and constituency in Hindi, in the parking lot at Parliament in New Delhi. Mr. Meghwal rides from his home in Windsor Place in New Delhi to Parliament –around 1.6 kilometers. “I even go to parties in nearby areas on bicycle. People don’t mind, but appreciate it.” he says .He owns a Toyota Innova van, but says he uses it only occasionally when he has to travel longer distances. Cycling has alerted Mr. Meghwal to the lack of separate lanes or spaces marked for bicycles, “I have to be very careful at diversions and roundabouts as there are speeding vehicles all over.” he adds.
Mr. Meghwal is currently the ruling party’s chief whip with responsibility to make sure its members are present for legislative work. His personality is like an oasis in the desert of murky politicians. The salvation of our country is possible if more politicians follow suit.