Monday, September 2, 2013

The other side

(We, human beings, are fascinating creature. The greatest delusion we live in is that we are logical. We like to believe that our social value system is the right one. For someone like me who has moved from one social system to another social value system, things are always grey. Being there in both sides of the asylum wall, I find myself asking too much questions.  However I believe in current state of affairs one side of the story is unrepresented in the social media. )

Food Security Bill is India's ambitious approach to provide food to each of it's citizen. Given that 1/4th of world's death by hunger happens in India, one may argue that it's logical. The timing of bill release can make one suspicious that it is a populist move by the government to appease it's dissatisfied voters. Most of the Netizens of India believes it is the later. But the reasoning for the same portray general apathy of Indian Elite Middle Class.

Some points raised by the concerned citizens consists of reasoning like " Subsidizing will only increase the tax burden of middle class" or " Providing free food will make people lazy".  Let's try to analyze them.

 Estimated cost of  Food security bill is placed around 241,263 a year. A huge number. Almost 1-3% of our GDP. The earning class of India will pay for this subsidized food of non working class. But subsidized is a dangerous term. Let's look at the loss India makes subsidizing petrol .  It is  180,000 crore till now this year.  The number will almost double by the end of year. So the tax payers are paying for every private vehicle that runs, every commercial airplane that runs. Making stronger public transportation systems and having a carbon tax may end up in lesser taxation for a middle class citizen. Not to mention India is self sufficient in Food but imports crude oil. Less subsidizing in private vehicles may decrease the current account deficits of India. But we go on protesting about a single rupee rise in petrol price.  But again our internet is dominated by the elites.

Talking about internet, the story going around social media is quite old actually. It's about how a professor failed all the students in a class. The problem with comparing a hypothetical story to human mentality is that it undermines many other factors. We as humans always want more. If we are arguing that giving free food will stop people working hard, we are denying the great human desire to climb up the ladder. Hunger is  of course the best motivation, but not the only one.

I will close with my personal experience. Where I come from, many things are subsidized.  My yearly payment for school was 70 INR. Many of my friends had only one uniform to wear to school for 2 consecutive years. Books were sponsored by teachers. Surprisingly the value of education is no less  from the subsidized counterpart of them.
 Helping a huge number of people  to overcome first step of Maslow's Pyramid can actually ad more value to India's  Economy than ever.

(Disclaimer:- I am not supporting or promoting any political party through this .)