Freebies are allurements only but nothing concrete. Wasteful use of electricity, defective, erratic, substandard supply of material and service and plunder of government public money by unscrupulous cheaters of all kinds and exploitation of the general masses.
Need is to provide employment and enable people to lead a dignified life as espoused by Hon’ble Supreme Court by creating assets as an architect of a modern welfare state with better health, education, housing, and roads etc. etc.
We come across glaring examples in Tamil Nadu. Gold for Thali ( Mangal Sutra ) Similarly waiver of gold loans. Why should taxpayers’ money be frittered away? Only one thing is clear: most of them vote for symbols which do not mean anything to them.
The free color Television set given in Tamil Nadu was seen in the flats of Vashi Navi Mumbai.
The focus should be on the Electoral Bonds and how it can be reversed. Two, the source of money spent on elections by the candidates as well as the party. Three, scrutiny of “income” and “assets* declared by contestants to the Assembly and the Parliament in a tenure of five years.
Because the incomes of the ministers of the ruling dispensation increases many fold, when he gives his declaration the next time. As well the increase in the assets of children of those in power or close to those in power.
If funds meant for the public don’t line the pockets of ministers and babus, then there would be no need for freebies.
But today, the media is also a big beneficiary of freebies, hence there is no investigative journalism nor any exposure of government deals !! What about the freebies to the crony capitalists in the name of tax waivers, duty waivers ? Parliamentarians too enjoy freebies.
Why leave them out ? And the freebies on a daily basis lining the pockets of a policeman, a clerk in the municipality, in the tehsil while making registration of land deeds/ sale deeds, court clerks ! All hotbeds of corruption.
When we talk of freebies, there are two aspects to it. Essential and non-essential items. Food grains fall under the essential items category and there is no doubt that it has improved the lot of the common man through distribution of such items.
Can one say the same about non-essential items? In TN, where freebies play a major role during elections, fans, grinders, TVs and many such items have been distributed as part of the freebie culture.
More of than not, the quality of the items are very poor and become worthless scraps within a very short time.
Girl students are given free cycles to encourage girl education and in many cases these cycles are either used by the father or the brother, and in some cases even sold, defeating the very purpose of the freebie.
Next comes the beneficiaries of the freebies.
And, of course, the less said about our ‘free’ power culture, the better. Rich farmers enjoy free power, do not pay any taxes, are against any agrarian reforms and the politicians only go after the Adanis and the Ambanis and never against the rich farmers for political reasons.
While one surely appreciates the need for free distribution of food grains to the really poor, the distribution system needs a complete overhaul to ensure that the fairly well off do not benefit from the same.
Politicians, especially at the State level, will never bell the cat for fear of losing votes. Distribution of non-essential items as freebies must be banned, especially as a sop during elections.
No doubt it is important to ascertain what the Hon’ble PM meant by freebies.
If it refers to the uncoordinated actions of some State Governments which distribute private goods before elections in the name of welfare, the remedy is coordination of policy and action in the manner envisaged in Article 263.
It is time to reconsider the freebies fiasco in a broader outlook as taxpayers money is given as freebies just to win elections.
Instead of just blowing the whistle out of proportion, let us think of winning the hearts of voters in a service oriented society and run the show without any added attraction.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)