Sunday, November 10, 2013
You, Your maid servant and Mr.Ambani get the same LPG subsidy !
What a fair system it is ! You (though I do not know the individual you) earn ,let us say, Rs.50000.- per month. Alright, let us settle it at Rs.60000.- Your maid servant earns Rs.6000 per month through her work at different households. Mr.Ambani, either of the two brothers, is either the richest or the second richest person in India and is one of the richest men in the world. To put out a definite figure as his annual income is an insult to him. Let us simply say that it would be a few hundred crores. You ( also I) and the maid servant will feel small and insignificant before him. But do you know, the government does not distinguish between you three? All of you are equal in the eyes of the Government. In order to pass the ultimate litmus test for equal treatment of the citizens, the government gives the same number of subsidized LPG cylinders i.e. 9 per year to all the three. Not just Ambani is treated as equal to the Aam Aadmi of this country, but Tata, Birla, Mahindra, Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Sibal, Mayavati, Amitabh Bachchan, Narayana Murthy and thousands of others who do not need LPG subsidy. Why talk only about them? If you drive a car to your office every day, if you are reading this blog on your iPad, if you visit a multiplex cinema twice a month, if you are taking a foreign holiday together with your family once in two years, then you do not deserve the LPG subsidy. There are people who genuinely need to be subsidized. Think of the situation a year ago. There was no cap on the number of subsidized cylinders. Depending on the consumption, a household could order 6 or even 60 per year. The richer the household is, the more is the LPG consumed. Better-off people get more guests, they have to entertain more; so they consume more LPG. So, before the cap was introduced, richer households were getting more subsidy in absolute rupee terms than poorer households. Can any sane person justify this? But why is that no economist takes note of this fact? The ivy-league eggheads rushing to the media condemning the LPG subsidy as the sole evil causing deficit in economy do not fail to enjoy the subsidy in their own domestic lives. Why do they not advise the Government to keep people of their ilk outside the protective net of subsidy? Why is the media silent on this? Why is there no demand for a more equitable system where only the genuine poor get the subsidy and not those driving a Mercedes ? Not just in LPG, this ' equal treatment of all citizens' can also be seen in diesel subsidy. It is not just the buses and trucks which get subsidized diesel. The huge luxury SUV-s owned by the rich get this diesel subsidy. The diesel cars driven by the upper strata of the middle class enjoy this subsidy. Is it so difficult to identify which section of the population or what kind of use should get subsidy? When income tax rules are framed so meticulously as to cut out the slightly higher earning sections from availing of certain deductions, when ration cards are issued in different colours just to ensure that subsidized rice or kerosene do not get enjoyed by the economically better-off sections, what is the problem in keeping out people who do not need or deserve subsidy in LPG or diesel? Is this vote bank politics? The rich will not shed tears if their LPG or diesel subsidy is taken away. But the vocal middle middle class or upper middle class which is known as chattering class and which is active in social networking sites on the net, picks up a microphone in the guise of a citizen journalist and shapes public opinion will strike back. In a sense, this class too is a vote bank. The political parties are afraid of this section though many from this class do not care to vote in the elections. Vested interests do not originate only from the rich and the super rich. The middle class, leaving out the lower one-third, has vested interests too and its power is ,of late, seen very much in the causes certain TV channels champion.