“You can’t ask me that question, Lulu” I protested, “There is no question of my reducing my pay and perks. First of all, I am a retired executive and even if I were working, my employers did not pay me hefty pay like those who are employed by Reliance or MNCs.”
“Agreed but you can do your bit. See what Mukesh Ambani has done. He has taken a big chunk off his compensation voluntarily.” Lulu, the parrot, flew down and sat on my hand.
“You are always so persuasive, Lulu, unlike your leftist friends.” I said, “Well, I think comparison with Mukesh is very unfair to me. He is ranked as one of the wealthiest man in the world, not just in India. I am not considered wealthy even by my neighbours. And he has inherited a good portion of his wealth from his illustrious father, I was not so fortunate.” I said.
“It was you who said that there is a time to learn, earn and return in one’s career, isn’t it?”
“It means institution building activity, that ‘return’ word. It does not mean I should refund my pension, Lulu. Moreover, what Mukesh has done is a trick to fool the people.”
“He gets a tax free annual dividend of Rs 864 crores [over $ 187 Mn]! And he gets annual salary of Rs. 44 Crores [$ 9.6 mn]. This salary he has scaled down to Rs. 15 Crores [$ 3.2 Mn], his income by way of dividend remains untouched, what’s the big deal? A large part of salary, not the dividend, is taken away by taxes anyway, so actual personal loss is less and negligible if you consider net-amount-in-hand salary.” I said.
“You must appreciate the spirit, my friend” Lulu said with a flutter of his wings, “He is setting a trend. He is the role model for younger generation and his deeds will inspire them.”
“Well in that case I would rather say that he should act in a principled manner.”
“Sorry, I didn’t get you. What are you suggesting?” Lulu asked.
“Yes, long back the Government formed a committee on Price, Income and Wages under the chairmanship of Mr. S. Bhoothalingam. He suggested that the CEO should not get more than 16 times the salary of the junior-most employee. Why don’t you ask Mukesh to follow that as a thumb rule?” I asked.
“Well, the first victims of that rule will be political leaders who have set up industries and draw huge salaries. So it won’t work. Moreover if Indians were principled in their approach, my life too would have been different, not just theirs!” Lulu said returning to his cage.