Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Are freebies necessary?

A debate is going on in the country about freebies, that is things given free of cost to some chosen people by governments. There are also certain things given to some for a lesser cost in the name of subsidies. All these are given using public money collected by local, state and central governments in the form of different kinds of taxes. The question here is whether it is justifiable to ‘rob Paul to pay Peter’. The other question is whether they are really given to the deserving. Some people think that continuing reservations for certain people till date is also not right.

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Charity is a great quality

Normally everybody believes that charity is a great quality and certain religions too prescribe it. Keeping aside religious tenets let us talk reason. It is the responsibility of the society or government to take care of orphans, destitute and those who cannot earn their living because of some physical or mental deformity. For them government may provide food and shelter and train them in some skill which they can learn and thereby earn their livelihood.

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Building national wealth

Subsidies are given to encourage people to do certain things whose value society has not yet realized. Subsidies to drip irrigation system, to produce solar electricity etc come under this category. This helps in building national wealth apart from helping the incumbents. Subsidies are given to establish certain industries in backward areas so that those areas also may come up. Similarly where technology is needed collaboration with foreign companies is permitted and some incentives are given to them for establishing their industries in our country. Certain regions and states have been given special status or extra funds to develop them on par with others. Nobody objects to these well intended spending of money.

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Oppressed castes

Socially oppressed castes have been given support to develop themselves educationally, economically and politically in the form of reservations in education, jobs, promotions and in politics. Dr Ambedkar who championed the cause of oppressed classes, wanted this reservation to be operational for 20 years only. It is a well known fact that successive governments are extending the period till now only for vote banks. The original idea to help one generation of the oppressed class so that they may help the succeeding generations is conveniently forgotten by all political parties. There is no serious debate on the fact that present and future generations should not be exploited of their chances of survival for the sins of previous generations.

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Welfare State

India is said to be a welfare state. In the name of welfare, governments are giving certain things free to some sections of people based on religion, region or caste. Some concessions like funds for pilgrimage are given to certain sections of people based on religion. Some governments are transferring digitally sizable amounts of money to the bank accounts of farmers, women, persons in certain professions periodically apart from supplying food items at the door step of many. Most of the recipients of freebies stopped working as the combined income of the family members is enough to sustain them even if they do not work. People like Kejriwal are openly supporting freebies though many other leaders are silently practicing it.

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Do your duty

A person survives by earning for his food. So is the case of a family or a nation. People produce wealth by working. If one does not work and wants to survive by freebies nobody can feed him everlastingly. He may get loans and survive for sometime but there would definitely be a time when nobody gives him any money as he cannot repay. Nobody would even show charity towards a lazy person. It is said ‘Sloth has killed more nations than war’. People who enjoy freebies are parasites. Recent examples of Venezuela and Sri Lanka which collapsed under the pressure of debts because of freebies should open our eyes. As food and water were also not available people turned violent and there was total chaos in those countries. Should we invite such a situation in our country? It is unfortunate that no intellectual or religious guru in this country denounces these parasites and tries to build up self respect of people though Gita says “Do your duty (without expecting return)”.

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Vote banks

Our Constitution says we are all equal. Then, why special treatment to some in the name of region, gender, caste or religion? Should freebies and reservations continue to harm other castes even after 75 years of freedom? Will there be an end to this exploitation of some by many in the name of inequalities. These are things which intellectuals and courts should ponder and come to conclusions considering the future of India as we do not have hopes on most of the politicians who treat sections of people as vote banks.

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(Views expressed are that of the author)

Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur had been a Lecturer in English. He is a poet, critic and translator. His interests are Literature, Philosophy and social media.

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