Political Freebies -- Who is going to fund ?

G.S. Vijay Kumar By G.S. Vijay Kumar, 27th Feb 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Come elections and our political leaders start announcing grandiose schemes and there is a veritable race among leaders to dole out more and more freebies to win votes.
The big question is – Who is going to fund this expenditure? The state government’s finances are not in good shape and this new expenditure is likely to be a step from the frying pan into the fire.

Political Freebies - Who is going to fund ?

Political Freebies – Who is going to fund?
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Come elections and our political leaders start announcing grandiose schemes and there is a veritable race among leaders to dole out more and more freebies to win votes.

The erstwhile Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and chief of Samajwadi party, Mulayam Singh Yadav announced that his party, if voted to power, would provide free irrigation, education and medicine to the people in addition to payment of allowances to the unemployed youth. This was soon followed by other politicians in all the poll bound states. Earlier, leaders of major political parties in poll-bound Punjab started distributing expensive freebies to journalists with the aim of generating positive news coverage ahead of the assembly elections.

It may be worth mentioning that during the Tamil Nadu assembly elections in April 2011, both the major political parties, Karunanidhi’s DMK as well as Jayalalitha’s AIADMK, brought out election manifestos that had nothing concrete to offer to the people excepting freebies. The voters were promised ceiling fans, table fans, mixies, wet grinders, laptop computers, gold etc. Leave alone political parties, in Tamil Nadu even independent candidates promised freebies to the electorates. An independent candidate contesting from Salem constituency promised to give a Nano car to every voter, if they elected him. Another candidate from Musiri had promised to give, if elected, free gold coins to all voters.

Our politicians are used to doling out such freebies, particularly before elections, in order to lure the poor voters. It is alleged that Mr. Karunanidhi in his earlier stints as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had made tons of money by misusing his office. One has only to see the Sarkaria Commission report to know more about his people-friendly steps.

It is a known fact that freebies, apart from vitiating the spirit of democracy, impose an irrevocable burden on the already overburdened state exchequer. Free fans, grinders and mixies mean less money for future investments in roads, ports, hospitals and schools. Eventually, the states will have to pay a price as growth would slow down without adequate investments which in turn would hurt the people in the long run.

The big question is – Who is going to fund this expenditure? The state government’s finances are not in good shape and this new expenditure is likely to be a step from the frying pan into the fire.

It is time, the Election Commission came out with a ruling curbing such announcements by our political leaders and more so before the elections. It is true that there exists a law which prevents political parties from announcing such measures once the election dates are announced by the election commission. But in practice, the unscrupulous politician finds a way out and announces such measures before the dates are announced by the election commission.

In the event such announcements cannot be curbed, the leaders making such grand announcements should at least propose plans to raise additional revenues for meeting such schemes. This will make the electorate know in advance the revenue implications of such announcements so that they can make informed decisions .The revenue raising plans so announced should be scrupulously followed and there should be no deviation to this. This will make the politicians more accountable and responsible.

In a country like ours, the poorer sections have always been victims of such short-sighted tactics for cheap electoral gains. Besides, this sets a dangerous precedent as more and more politicians will take recourse to such grandiose announcements. It may be good political manoeuvre but very bad economics. Instead of making such promises, it would be more prudent to create jobs for the people, provide free education for the poor, and invest in infrastructure building which will go a long way for the overall development of the state as well as its people on a longer term basis. It is the poor taxpayer who has to foot the bill for these wild promises of time – serving politicians. If money is to be spent, it should be on welfare schemes such as education, infrastructure or supply of clean drinking water for the poor.

One is reminded of Azim Premji, the Chairman of Wipro Limited, who while delivering the convocation address at the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai some years ago said: “The greatest gift one can give to others is the gift of education. We who have been so fortunate to receive this gift know how valuable it is.” Education alone will make a person stand on his own legs. Gifting anything material surely makes people happy but this does not solve their problems for long whereas by providing education their whole life as well as the generation to follow is taken care of. Unfortunately, our leaders have deliberately distorted the nation’s priorities by giving short – lived sops to woo the electorates.

Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri once said: “Let us build a strong foundation stone on which a prosperous and united India can stand. Even if the structure falls, the foundation will remain.”

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G.S. Vijay Kumar is a senior corporate executive and a columnist.

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Corrupt Politicians, Corrupt Rulers, Corruption, Corruption And India, Corruption In India, Corrution Of Power, Dmk, Elections, G S Vijay Kumar, Gs Vijay Kumar, India, Political Corruption, Political Philosophy, Political Satire, Political Values, Politics, Samajwadi Party, Uttar Pradesh, Vijay Kumar, Vijay Kumar G S, Vijay Kumar Gs

Meet the author

author avatar G.S. Vijay Kumar
I am a management graduate and have worked as a senior executive for 25 years in the corporate sector.I am a columnist and write on management, Economics and socio-economic topics.

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