Freebies vs welfare: which one is better?

admin November 5, 2021
Updated 2021/11/05 at 2:16 PM

A targeted Public Distribution System, which provides social security for workers, as well as excellent education, fair employment, cheap healthcare, good housing, and protection from exploitation and violence, are among the welfare measures.

Freebies, on the other hand, are given out to entice people to vote in a certain election. They provide the recipient with minimal private advantages and do not contribute to the building of public goods/facilities.

What gave rise to the freebie culture?

During the 1967 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the culture of freebies was born. C.N. Annadurai, the then-DMK chairman, promised three measures of rice for one rupee. Following in his footsteps, following Chief Ministers offered free television sets, laptop computers for students, bus trips for ladies, free gas cylinders and stoves, a goat and a cow for needy farmers, and so on. Freebies have been defended by political leaders arguing social fairness as a benefit to people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

What are some of the critiques levelled about Freebie Culture?

Freebies go against the Constitution’s provision of providing public advantages by creating private benefits. The biggest beneficiaries of the government’s handouts were the governing party’s core supporters and swing voters who were readily swayed. Freebies will depoliticize impoverished and marginalised groups while simultaneously denying them their fair share of state resources.

In a democratic society, Freebie encourages personality cults. Populism promotes substandard political critics while erasing critical and logical thinking, both of which are necessary for raising issues to those in positions of power. Patron-client syndrome is cultivated through uninvited freebies. People are treated as subjects when they are given gifts, but citizens are entitled to constitutional protections. Clientelism is a political or social system based on the client-patron relationship, in which the client provides political support to a patron (in the form of votes) in return for a specific advantage or privilege (freebies).

Welfare programs exemplify civil rights, while uninvited giveaways demonstrate the governing parties’ generosity at best and disinterest at worst toward the poor. It was discovered that giving out free computers does not serve the objective of improving educational quality. Free electricity, free water, and agricultural debt forgiveness, among other things, have not resulted in greater output. Moreover, Freebies put a strain on the state’s finances, adding to a massive budget deficit.

Because of the participation of the middle man, the freebie culture leads to unscrupulous practises. Freebies have very short-term social, political, and economic implications. Furthermore, they cannot be offered for free indefinitely; at some time, these items must be rationalised.

What was the supreme court’s take on the culture of freebies?

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of freebies, claiming that they are not a corrupt practise since they are stated in electoral manifestos.

“Although promises in the election manifesto cannot be construed as ‘corrupt practise’ under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act,” the court said in S. Subramaniam Balaji v. Govt. of Tamil Nadu (2013), “the distribution of freebies influences the people, shaking the root of free and fair elections.”

The Madras High Court voiced its significant concern in 2021 with the manner political parties competed for votes by giving freebies.

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