What Indian politicians can learn from Mughal emperor Aurangzeb


# Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s swearing-in ceremony costs Rs 17.60 lakh to the exchequer. The money was used for arrangements related to tent, stage, furniture and other related items at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

# The official residence of Sheila Dikshit when she was the chief minister of Delhi, had 31 air conditioners, 15 desert coolers, 16 air purifiers and 14 heaters.

# Mayawati as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh spent Rs 685 crore to build a dream Ambedkar Park.

# Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earmarks Rs 200 crore in the Budget 2014 for a giant statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat.

Politicians in general and the desi ones in particular should learn from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb on how to handle the state exchequer. Sounds incredulous, right?

Muslim zealot Aurangzeb, who harassed the Hindus, destroyed temples and banned public worship by non-Muslims unlike his predecessors, who even murdered his elder brother Dara Shikoh accusing him of being under the influence of Hinduism, how can he be a role model for politicians.

For all his faults, Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughals, led an austere life. Despite the pomp and splendour of the Mughal empire, despite the unparalleled wealth that the empire boasted of, the last of the great Mughals spent an austere life. His personal expenditure cost the state not a single penny and purchased his food from the money he realized by selling prayer caps which he embroidered in his leisure moments.

An old Islamic legend exists that once King David was vouchsafed a vision of an angel of the Lord and humbly expressed the hope that his government of Israel was pleasing in the eyes of his divine Master. The angel answered that it was, save in one particular. The king- implored forgiveness for his single deficiency and begged to be informed of it. “King David,” said the angel, “the Lord is not pleased with you because instead of earning money for your own use, you defray your expenses from the State treasury”. The king repented of his error and corrected it. From that time onwards he paid for his food by working in his leisure moments as a blacksmith. Bearing in mind the angelic rebuke, Aurangzeb met his personal expenses by embroidering caps in his leisure moments. These he sold at a moderate price to the nobles of his court and spent the sum realized on the purchase of his food. The balance, if any, he distributed in charity.

Aurangzeb lies buried in a simple tomb constructed only with the money he had made from sewing skullcaps.  And here is the most important lesson for Indian politicians. Aurangzeb, unlike his predecessors, considered the royal treasury to be held in trust for the citizens of his empire.

According to the latest UN’s Millennium Development Goals, one third of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest people live in India. About 32.7 per cent of India’s population still lived below the poverty line as against 12 per cent of China. India also had the highest number of under-five deaths in the world, with 1.4 million children not reaching their fifth birthday.

In the backdrop of such grim statistics, it would be well for the politicians – of all shades, colour and ideological moorings – to cut wasteful expenditure and utilize the money for public good.