Gone are the days when voters elected netas based on the promise of 'Roti,Kapda aur Makaan'.
These days,trivial things such as roti or kapda are taken for granted.
Election fever brings freebies fever also.Days are not far away when elections are fought based on which party is doling out more freebies.
Have a look at the states which went to elections last month and you will see why.
Earlier people voted for politicians who promised them cheaper ration rice and free saris.Not any more.
People have become more consumerist.Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent than in Tamilnadu.Voters have been assured of all kinds of electrical and electronic gadgets.Free laptops with WiFi connection,smartphones,television sets,table fans,mixies,grinders-these are some of the freebies promised to voters in exchange for their votes.Election Manifesto even promised concession in power tariffs and concession for women buying two-wheeler. Even though the last two are acceptable,the catch is that these concessions are available for everyone.I was expecting at least some sort of income criteria to be the limit for such people availing of such concessions.
There were many more populist measures also like lunch,dinner,mineral water bottles,vegetables and fruits at much lower rates than the market value.Even for these,there does not seem to be any income cap.It is available to everyone.At least these seemed to make some sense.The working-class and laborers might find this very useful.No complaints here.
I am left wondering if we are electing a democratic government or a consumer-appeasing government.The goal of a government should be to provide safety,security and welfare for its citizens.Not consumerism.Some may argue that all these freebies fall under the category of welfare measures.
I disagree.Welfare measures must include development of infrastructure,improving education standards,providing for water conservation and distribution measures,electrical power sustenance,public transport and the like.Free fans or laptops do not fall into this category.These are for individual consumers to buy out of their hard earned money.Not for governments to dole out as incentives.
By giving all these stuff free,the government is committing two mistakes in one shot-firstly,it is making the citizens become lazy by providing them what they can get by themselves.Secondly,it is inadvertently,promoting a consumerist culture.
I remember a line from Tamil actor-comedian Vivek's film.Taking a dig at the freebies culture,he mentioned that 'Freea kudutha phenoyla kooda kudipanga da'. Roughly translated it means that if given free,people will drink even if it is phenol.Sad but true!
This penchant for freebies also makes me wonder.What has happened to the people who wanted roti,kapda aur makaan.No politician these days talks about it.Does it mean the voters have already got all these.Is that why they want additional things now.Is it a sign of increasing prosperity of the below poverty line population.Or is it that the people have become so consumerist in their mentality that they want all these freebies inspite of not having the bare essentials of roti,kapda aur makaan?
It is a question for policy makers to ponder about.Notwithstanding the popularity of such measures,it must be understood that these freebies do not augur well for a free and fair democratic society.
As educated citizens,we must shun these freebies and try to inculcate a sense of anti-freebies culture in our society.