The Constitution of India came into effect on 26th November, 1950. With this, India was declared a Sovereign Socialist Secular “Democratic Republic”. The last two words – Democratic Republic – are very important because they state that the country is not the property of a private ruler or an administration and is collectively to be ruled by all its citizens through their elected representatives, through a government that is “by the people, of the people and for the people.” It has been 70 years since then. People are waiting to elect yet another government to run the country. However, before one does that, there are some very important issues that one needs to discuss. Before one makes a choice, it is imperative that one carefully evaluates one’s options. After all, we are all accountable for what we give to ourselves for the next five years.
As the popular parties gear up for the General Elections and carry out their election propaganda, citizens as voters need to make sure that the vote is cast for the right candidate. India is a developing country with a lot of pertinent issues that need to be discussed and acted upon to make the country a better place to live in. To begin with, issues like poverty and unemployment seem to wreak havoc in every second household in the country. This essentially includes the weak and the vulnerable sections of the society, including the agricultural community. In the interim budget that was announced by the Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, the Modi administration has promised a sum of Rs. 6000 per year to every small and marginal landowning farmer under the PM-KISAN direct money transfer scheme. Similarly, the Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi has come up with the Nyuntam Aay Yojna (NYAY) guaranteeing an income transfer of Rs. 12000 to the poorest 20% of the families in the country. On the surface, both these programmes might seem empathetic and beneficial to the sections they are targeted to. But in reality, these are far from being practical.
An in-depth analysis of the PM-KISAN Scheme shows that the actual benefit to the farmer will be but negligible, guaranteeing him a sum of just Rs. 500 a month which is not enough for him to recover his costs. Similarly, the NYAY Scheme will not really benefit the poor as most of these families are not registered and there is no proper documentation to claim the offered sum. On the contrary, both these policies, if implemented will cause huge fiscal pressure on the country’s reserves in the coming years.
It is important for people to stop at this point and question themselves.
Are these policies actually beneficial or are these politicians just trying to buy the votes? In a country like India, where poverty is so widespread and the agriculture sector has been in distress for a long time, there are many different ways in which these problems can be tackled. However, what one sees is that right before the elections the politicians come up with populist policies which don’t actually aim for long-term relief or a permanent solution. They don’t tackle the problem of poverty at the grass root level. Income transfer and income support is not the right solution. These sections need to be made empowered. They need to be made self-sufficient. Instead of trying to use the taxpayers’ money to supplement their low incomes, this money should be used to enable them to increase their income. Farm-loan waivers won’t make them empowered, income support and income-transfer will not enable their children to lead better lives. Instead, the policymakers should bring out schemes that enable the farmers to pay back their loans, policies that help them earn more than their current income. The thing that is required is their children to get better quality healthcare and education, their women to become more self-sufficient and independent, their men to get better payments for the labour.
However, an objective analysis shows us exactly what the politicians of India do. Election propaganda is incomplete if there are no promises for a better future. What will the politicians claim to change and improve if there is nothing to improve? A large number of Indians still live under distress and have to face a lot of hardships for fulfilling even their basic needs. This section becomes an easy target for these leaders. They feel that giving them some little incentives will increase their votes in the upcoming elections. This will secure a seat for them for the next five years. A poor labourer with hardly enough income to sustain his family does not necessarily care much about which government is going to rule from at Centre for the next five years. All he cares about is whether his family has food for the next five days. So his choice is simple – vote for the person who gives him money. This is exactly what the politicians capitalize on. They know that if these problems are solved completely, they will have nothing left to promise for the next elections to buy votes. So, they just aim at providing temporary relief to these sections, buy their votes, and then again leave them as they are.
This is where the educated and the literate section of the society need to step up. We are the ones that have to see the real picture and make a conscious choice. There is no use complaining about the status of the country and the inefficiency of the leaders, when we are the ones bringing them to power. Sipping tea and discussing politics is something everyone likes to do. However, how many of us actually initiate the change? We don’t even have to do much, just make the right choice. We as citizens have a responsibility. We have a duty, not just towards ourselves and our fellow countrymen but towards our future generations as well. After all, we are responsible for the legacy that we leave behind.
This article is a part of the ‘Of Tugs and Tussles: General Election 2019’ feature series where we focus on quality content written and chosen to focus on specific areas surrounding elections. Find a link to other articles of this feature series here: