ABOLISHING FREEBIE CULTURE…?

Editorial GREATER JAMMU

While initiating an important national debate on poll freebies, the Supreme Court intends to differentiate between freebies and welfare schemes, knowing that subsidies under welfare schemes rolled out by Govt are very essential for sections and categories of the people who need a helping hand. It was in this context the Chief Justice of India said that the economy losing money or getting ruined is one issue and, at the same time, welfare measures for the poor are very essential and both the issues need to be considered simultaneously and have to be balanced. He has sought an expert panel to put its collective thinking and wisdom into the issue and give a report which can be the basis for the court to take some measures in the direction of this significant issue. This is indeed the much needed initiative taken by the apex court of the nation because freebies have a far reaching impact on the general public, taxpayers and last but not the least on the overall economy of the nation. Though the people across the nation may feel very happy with the governments run by political parties having made freebies their identification, it is necessary to make the people realize that freebies not only hamper the individual efforts towards earning but can lead the nation to a disastrous situation on the economic front that has a direct impact on each and every sector in the society. In this regard the political parties emphasizing on promoting the freebie culture need to take a lesson from the serious crisis that Sri Lanka and its people are confronted with today. While it is an acknowledged fact that subsidies have become inevitable in case of Govt schemes that offer larger benefits to the people, at the same time there is a need to distinguish subsidies from other sops which offer a few hundred units of free power per household, that is evidenced by the contemporary political narrative in some Indian states. Promising freebies to people has now even become part of the election manifesto of certain political parties. The story does not end here only as freebie promises made by the various parties will lead to political competition over sops which ultimately will result in sub-national bankruptcies. Similarly while doling out subsidies under various schemes Govt can’t afford to move ahead indiscriminately and if it does so then it undoubtedly is not justified it is definitely going to spoil the long-term prospects of the nation’s economy as a whole. Therefore it is in the best interest of the politicians resorting to freebie politics to realize that it does not put the nation on the road leading to efficiency, progress or prosperity but it is an instant passport to fiscal disaster. So what is required the most at this juncture is to create awareness among the people about embedded risks in the freebies being offered by some political parties to them. At the same time it is hoped that the Supreme Court after considering the report prepared by the Expert Panel on this serious issue will issue the much needed directions or guidelines for balancing the scale between subsidies and social welfare schemes besides leaving no scope for the freebies to be announced to lure voters. It is also hoped that after the apex court’s verdict on the issue the executive and legislature too will join their heads together to roll out special legislation to ban promising of freebies and making provision for appropriate punishment to the violators. Only then will the nation will succeed in abolishing the obnoxious trend of freebies culture in India.