Difference between Freebies and Welfare Schemes
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2022 kickstarted a debate on REVADI culture or freebie culture. PM Modi while denouncing the freebie culture practiced by certain political parties in India said that people should be cautioned as the freebie culture is dangerous. While addressing the inauguration of the 296-km long Bundelkhand Expressway, PM Modi said, “The Revadi culture (freebie culture) is dangerous for the development of the country.” He cautioned people that political parties practicing the freebies culture will not build airports, defence corridors, expressways, etc. The matter also reached the Apex Court when petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay requested the Supreme Court of India to derecognize political parties that practice freebies.
Let us understand the difference between freebies and welfare schemes.
What are Freebies? What does the Revadi culture mean?
Freebies are promises made by several political parties in India in an attempt to buy the confidence of people to vote for these parties. During election campaigns and rallies, several political parties have been found to be promising goods and services in exchange for votes. These freebies include cash, laptops, mobiles, scooters, pensions, etc. Revadi word used by PM Modi is a popular Indian sweet which he has used as a metaphor for Freebies.
The freebies culture is traced to begin in Tamil Nadu where key political parties were seen promising television sets, grinder mixers, washing machines, etc. The problem is that the freebies culture has been observed to be damaging the economy of India thus impacting the financial health of the country.
What is a Welfare Scheme?
Welfare schemes launched by the government of India are aimed at improving not only the social and economic security of people but also contributing to the economy of India. Schemes that provide free healthcare, education, power, etc are sponsored by the government to offer assistance to people who actually need these amenities but cannot afford them. These schemes are funded through taxes paid to the government. Some of the examples of welfare schemes by the government include Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS), Ayushman Sahakar Scheme, Mission COVID Suraksha, One Nation One Ration, etc.
Schemes are offered after assessing the economic and financial stature of an individual or family. The criteria to avail of a welfare scheme depend on the income earned by a certain individual or entire household. The welfare schemes offered by the government protect the disadvantaged and poor section of the society and also equip the labor force with skills or economic development.
The Supreme Court of India has ruled out the possibility of derecognizing any political party that promises freebies on the grounds that is it undemocratic. However, the Apex Court has made it clear that it is crucial to maintain a fine balance between freebies and welfare schemes. Way forward demands the political parties to explain how would they avoid the impact on the budget and save the economy from losing money if they promise freebies. How would they finance these freebies?