CHENNAI: It’s a flood of freebies in AIADMK manifesto released by party general secretary, J. Jayalalithaa, on Thursday.
Apart from essentials like milk getting cheaper, people have been offered a whole range of freebies in order to win their votes. But, quite a few with whom Deccan Chronicle spoke to, especially the urban literate, seem upset viewing the manifesto as an attempt to reduce people into lazy welfare-seekers.
“The AIADMK manifesto is a ready reckoner on how to make people lazy. The government which is supposed to provide infrastructure to its citizens is reducing its prestige by providing all kinds of freebies to voters,” Yamini Shekaran, administrator of a college in rural Tamil Nadu, said.
Software professional Nithya Srinivasan scoffs at the promise of providing 100 units of free electricity to every household, questioning why the Government does not plan to increase power production and harnessing solar and other renewable energy sources.
“Governments are supposed to provide electricity to people, but not free of cost. I will in fact welcome the government if it provides free power only to the needy. If power is given free for all, then it would only lead to wastage of the resource.”
The AIADMK manifesto has promised waiver of all farm loans, earmarking Rs 1,40,000 crore to be disbursed as loans to farmers for the next five years, free laptops with internet for SSLC and HSC students, 100 units electricity free every two months, 50 per cent subsidy to women for buying mopeds and free cell phones for all ration card holders.
The general opinion among most of the educated seems to be against providing freebies to all sections of society. For instance, the DMK which promised free colour TV sets to BPL families later extended it to all family card holders between 2006 and 201. The AIADMK provided free mixer and wet grinders to all family card holders. Bernard D’ Sami, professor of History at Loyola College here, says announcement of freebies makes people less interested in politics and more in populism.
“These political parties talk about development but they don’t understand freebies are actually anti-development. It completely takes away the political consciousness of the people,” he said.
More than populism, he says, distribution of freebies puts a huge burden on the exchequer and the government is forced to divert funds from the Special Component Plan meant for SC/ST to fund these freebies.
Raghav Subramaniam, a doctor, is quite vocal in his criticism of the freebie culture. “Why are these parties hell bent on making people greedy? What is the need to give mobile phones to every household? Where is all this leading to? Are we going to be a state of beggars waiting for alms from the State,” he asks.
However, Vasu Devan, a senior software analyst at an MNC, says there is nothing wrong in providing freebies to people. “When education is being privatised and even governments are controlled by corporates, how can people afford these things on their own?”...