IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

FREEBIES CULTURE

4th August, 2022 Polity and Governance

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In News

  • The Supreme Court of India has said that the Parliament may not take steps to do away with “irrational freebies”, as no political party wants to take away freebies.
  • The Supreme Court has suggested setting up a specialised body to examine the problem related to “freebies”.

 

Background

  • Recently the Supreme Court of India has asked the Union government to find out a way to restrain political parties from promising and distributing "irrational freebies" during election campaigns.
  • A Bench led by the Chief Justice of India has raised concern over the issue as "serious" and asked the union government to control the promise of "freebies" to entice votes.
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) stated that "whether such policies are financially viable or its adverse effect on the economic health of the State is a question that has to be considered and decided by the voters of the State".
  • The court said that freebies are a "serious issue" and had to be tackled at the level of the States.

 

 

Details

  • During election time, Political parties make promises to the voters to provide free electricity/water supply, monthly allowance for the unemployed, laptops, smartphones, etc.
  • These steps are justified as there has been rising inequality in our country, therefore some kind of relief to the population needs to be provided.
  • It promotes socio-economic Growth: Public Distribution System, employment guarantee schemes, and support for the social sector: education and health.

Concern

  • Freebies can hurt macroeconomic stability, it distorts expenditure priorities.
  • Negative impact on the public exchequer and most of the states of India do not have strong financial health.
  • Against Free and Fair Election
  • It would lead to the overuse of natural resources, Ex- Free water, electricity, etc.

 

Way Forward

  • Need to understand the socio-economic impact of state support on the economy, life quality, and social cohesion in the long run.
  • Need to Differentiate between Subsidies and Freebies, as targeted subsidies are justified to promote socio-economic development and reduce inequality and for promoting sustainable development, however, irrational freebies need to be regulated as they could challenge the economic stability of the nation.

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