CEO salaries: Who decides what's "vulgar"

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New Delhi:  If the Congress politicians are going through a period of austerity, why shouldn't everyone else do the same? Get austere is the new mantra. The normally reticent minister Salman Khurshid has called for all CEOs not to have vulgar salaries. But the CEOs want to know - who decides what's vulgar.

"India Inc needs to put a cap on CEO salaries," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said almost two years ago.

Now almost two years later, Minister of Corporate Affairs Salman Khurshid follows the same dictate, and asks for more accountability and power to the shareholders, for deciding India Inc's top brass salaries.

"There should be shareholder democracy. It is the shareholders who should decide the salary of the CEOs and Directors, and for that the companies should provide its shareholders with complete transparent information of the company's functioning," said Khurshid.

The real question here, however, is if the government really has the right to regulate private sector salaries and what kind of salaries will be brought under 'government regulation'.

And even as the tussle continues between the government and India Inc, several quarters even within the government put the onus on the corporates to decide on austere levels of salaries in these difficult economic times.

"Indecent CEO salaries has become a global cause of worry. It is for the corporate boards to fix the salaries correctly, because it has not been regulated and should not be regulated," said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission.

While India's political pack has already begun its austerity drive travelling economy class and staying at state guest houses, it is now India Inc which has to do a balancing act between going global yet staying connected to the masses.

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