India’s Vilified Welfare Schemes – The New Indian Express

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of the dangers of the “revdi culture” of gifts, there has been a series of debates about gifts in various forums. Even the Supreme Court has recommended a panel of experts find a solution for the freebies, while Solicitor General Tushar Mehta lamented that the freebies are an “economic disaster” and “distort voter decision-making”.

The economic rationale and tax consequences of freebies gained prominence after the release in June of an RBI report that linked the precarious state of state finances to freebies. However, what the current debate misses is that India has never had a predefined social protection architecture. Whatever social protection policies have been put in place that have improved people’s well-being, they have been the result of democratic impulses largely at the state level.

The main criticism of freebies is that they crowd out public investment intended for productive purposes. The grassroots schemes, derogatorily called “free”, are seen as reducing expenditure on “productive” investments that could have helped create more jobs, and an attempt is made to create the perception that India is wallowing in poverty and inequality because its limited public resources are wasted on handouts.

How true are these statements? This culture of giveaways began in electoral politics at the state level. The Indian Constitution did not clearly define the welfare model that India should adopt, assigning its positive rights – social and economic development, education and social upliftment – ​​to the guiding principles of the Constitution, making them non-enforceable.

Since the architect of well-being, its size and shape have been left to the imagination of rulers, successive state governments have endowed it with social content. Since spending at the state level was important for achieving better socio-economic outcomes, regional parties took the lead in designing programs to provide the poor with food, clothing, housing, health care and other subsidized amenities.

Over time, these programs have been pejoratively labeled as giveaways and handouts and vilified by the urban elite. Although these are legitimate demands for popular mobilization, echoing popular aspirations, elites have labeled them “vote buying” tactics and made them a matter of serious discussion in the political science literature. . The narrative, however, contrasts sharply with evidence that suggests voters are making choices that go beyond freebies.

Economic rationale
The culture of gifts is actually the result of a lack of economic transformation – the shortage of decent jobs in India. It is a response to economic failure, resulting from India’s industrial stagnation, especially in job creation. India has not been able to generate a growth model that produces jobs and inclusive development like most East Asian countries, in addition to having other structural flaws in broad-based industrialization . Even states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra which boast of vibrant manufacturing climates could not create enough decent jobs.

Many jobs are created in the largely informal sector which lacks basic economic and social security. Furthermore, inequalities inherited from India, including caste-based discrimination, are being reproduced in the labor market. Even access to education has not enabled marginalized sections to obtain decent jobs, as the disparity in the quality of education has a direct impact on inequalities in the labor market. Freebies and populist regimes compensate for this economic failure and income inequalities.

History of Tamil Nadu
A slice of Tamil Nadu date with gifts can help in understanding the need for government support to marginalized sections of society. Besides the Nutritious Midday Meals Scheme, the precursor to similar India-wide schemes, a host of other popular schemes for specific social groups have reduced poverty and inequality. Even its PDS helped reduce poverty – about 44% of the reduction is attributed to the PDS. Thus, social interventions such as universal PDS and school lunches ensured a higher reservation wage for non-formal work in the state. Even in the health sector, a multitude of programs have contributed to improving the age at marriage and the educational level of girls.

Tamil Nadu has experimented with programs that support rights-based interventions as well as those that fall under the category of freebies. If the first is situated in a narrative of social justice, the second is linked to the electoral cycle. But we have no evidence that giveaways alone buy votes. All that can be said is that in situations of precariousness and economic vulnerability, free services have a redistributive role.

Footnote is a weekly column that deals with the world from the perspective of Tamil Nadu

Poverty alleviation
Besides the Nutritious Midday Meals Programme, a precursor to similar programs across India, a host of other popular programs for specific social groups have reduced poverty and reduced inequality. Even TN’s PDS helped reduce poverty – about 44% of the reduction is attributed to the PDS

Kalaiyarasan A is Assistant Professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), India, and Affiliate Researcher at South Asia Institute, Harvard University

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of the dangers of the “revdi culture” of gifts, there has been a series of debates about gifts in various forums. Even the Supreme Court has recommended a panel of experts find a solution for the freebies, while Solicitor General Tushar Mehta lamented that the freebies are an “economic disaster” and “distort voter decision-making”. The economic rationale and tax consequences of freebies gained prominence after the release in June of an RBI report that linked the precarious state of state finances to freebies. However, what the current debate misses is that India has never had a predefined social protection architecture. Whatever social protection policies have been put in place that have improved people’s well-being, they have been the result of democratic impulses largely at the state level. The main criticism of freebies is that they crowd out public investment intended for productive purposes. The grassroots schemes, derogatorily called “free”, are seen as reducing expenditure on “productive” investments that could have helped create more jobs, and an attempt is made to create the perception that India is wallowing in poverty and inequality because its limited public resources are wasted on handouts. How true are these statements? This culture of giveaways began in electoral politics at the state level. The Indian Constitution did not clearly define the welfare model that India should adopt, assigning its positive rights – social and economic development, education and social upliftment – ​​to the guiding principles of the Constitution, making them non-enforceable. Since the architect of well-being, its size and shape have been left to the imagination of rulers, successive state governments have endowed it with social content. Since spending at the state level was important for achieving better socio-economic outcomes, regional parties took the lead in designing programs to provide the poor with food, clothing, housing, health care and other subsidized amenities. Over time, these programs have been pejoratively labeled as giveaways and handouts and vilified by the urban elite. Although these are legitimate demands for popular mobilization, echoing popular aspirations, elites have labeled them “vote buying” tactics and made them a matter of serious discussion in the political science literature. . The narrative, however, contrasts sharply with evidence that suggests voters are making choices that go beyond freebies. Economic rationale The gift culture is actually the result of a lack of economic transformation – the shortage of decent jobs in India. It is a response to economic failure, resulting from India’s industrial stagnation, especially in job creation. India has not been able to generate a growth model that produces jobs and inclusive development like most East Asian countries, in addition to having other structural flaws in broad-based industrialization . Even states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra which boast of vibrant manufacturing climates could not create enough decent jobs. Many jobs are created in the largely informal sector which lacks basic economic and social security. Furthermore, inequalities inherited from India, including caste-based discrimination, are being reproduced in the labor market. Even access to education has not enabled marginalized sections to obtain decent jobs, as the disparity in the quality of education has a direct impact on inequalities in the labor market. Freebies and populist regimes compensate for this economic failure and income inequalities. History of Tamil Nadu Part of Tamil Nadu dating with gifts can help in understanding the need for government support to marginalized sections of society. Besides the Nutritious Midday Meals Scheme, the precursor to similar India-wide schemes, a host of other popular schemes for specific social groups have reduced poverty and inequality. Even its PDS helped reduce poverty – about 44% of the reduction is attributed to the PDS. Thus, social interventions such as universal PDS and school lunches ensured a higher reservation wage for non-formal work in the state. Even in the health sector, a multitude of programs have contributed to improving the age at marriage and the educational level of girls. Tamil Nadu has experimented with programs that support rights-based interventions as well as those that fall under the category of freebies. If the first is situated in a narrative of social justice, the second is linked to the electoral cycle. But we have no evidence that giveaways alone buy votes. All that can be said is that in situations of precariousness and economic vulnerability, free services have a redistributive role. The footnote is a weekly column that discusses the world from a Tamil Nadu perspective Poverty Alleviation Besides the Nutritious Midday Meals Programme, a precursor to similar programs across India, a host of other programs for specific social groups have reduced poverty and inequality. . Even TN’s PDS helped reduce poverty – about 44% of the reduction is attributed to the PDS