An attempt to know, understand (and ultimately, transform) that which occurs on the fields of play - India (her politics, media, music) and beyond ...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Cost of Elections in India

A couple of days back I wrote a post that dealt briefly with the tremendous costs of conducting elections in India. I wrote how developing countries such as India cannot afford throwing valuable resources (time, energy, money, human resources) into conducting frequent elections (brought on at the whim of our thin-skinned politicians). At that time I had completely overlooked another aspect: the mounting cost of the freebies promised (and delivered, in part at least) by our imagination-deficient politicians during election time. I have to sincerely thank The MuKa for bringing this humongous lapse of mine to attention.

I quote from a report of The DMK Manifesto for the 2006 TamilNadu Elections. Read and weep, denizens of other states! Either move here (TN) or home-grow your own versions of The MuKa, so that you too can get these benefits!

Quality rice at Rs. 2 a kg on ration cards, free colour television for every family "for women's recreation and general knowledge," a maternity assistance of Rs. 1,000 a month for six months, wavier of all cooperative loans to farmers and free electricity to weavers in addition to farmers, were some of the highlights.

The DMK has promised free gas stove to all poor women, a monthly financial assistance up to Rs. 300 to unemployed youth, assignment of two acres to landless poor families, restoration of all concessions withdrawn to government employees and teachers and reservation for Muslim and Christians.

In case you are wondering why the above quote is all in bold, here's the explanation. I started out highlighting "promises" that included the terms "free" or "waiver" or can be construed as a sop by a reasonable person, but soon realised it might be handy to just mark the whole thing in bold! I dare say that what this basket shipload of freebies costs the treasury will dwarf even the regular expenses of elections!

I am surprised why they didn't promise employment to all employable people? Oops, sorry, that falls under the domain of the UPA Govt.

Wait, The MuKa adds an important caveat to one of the sops.

Karunanidhi said the free colour television sets would be given to families after ascertaining whether they had a TV or not.

Phew ... that's a relief! And here I was thinking that this is just going to be a reckless waste of public money. The MuKa is going to give free CTVs only to those who don't have one. I'll say it again: that's the hallmark of responsible economic policy!

I am quite disappointed that The MuKa hasn't promised free Internet (DSL, of course), free set-top boxes (oops, that'd affect the profitability of Maran's Sumangali Cable Vision, so that's a no-go), free transport, free education (for girls only) in State Board of Education schools (a la what the Clueless Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) tried to do, but eventually reversed) ...

Indeed, the Vision of The MuKa is quite glorious. While educated folks like us can only dream of free-trade zones, primary-school dropouts self-educated geniuses like The MuKa aspire to make TamlNadu a Free-For-All-Nadu! With everything free in the not-so-distant future, money will have no place in TamilNadu! By money, I mean cash, cheques, credit cards, banks, the whole shebang! What a revolutionary state that will be! A Giant Leap Forward to The Stone Age!

Such are the Tall Leaders we, the Indian people (and especially, the Tamils), are blessed with!


  • At 6:07 AM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said…

    You have to see a star mark above the TV..that may have additional conditions once they come to power. And if a single TV cost is 6000,(assume), then govt need Rs.5100 crores to achieve this. Lot of other good things are there. But all are seeing this only. May be to attract people it is there.

  • At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Vijay Krishna said…

    I think the concept of free giveaways was first ushered in by MGR.

    Yet, these tall words by the DMK make for funny reading. It is political gimmickery at its best.

  • At 4:51 AM, Blogger doubtinggaurav said…


    I will vote for you for a fast DSL ;-).

    Seriously there is even bet that these promises will succeed.
    The reason they will succeed is that they appeal to the basic nature of human.

    Once appeal to greed is established as a USP competitive politics will ensure the downward spiral.


  • At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Srini said…

    Yeah - we know is it stupid and politicians take advantage of innocent people and want them to keep that way. Check out another blog on tamil nadu politics, I enjoyed reading. www.tamizhdesi.com . We need more people to contribute like this.

  • At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think you people are funny...

    When a colour TV is given at free for those who dont have.. you talk about economy... stone age... etc.

    Look.. govt acquires land from the poor formers at a much lower price than the market price and gives the same land back to a software company for almost free of cost.

    A farmer who knows anything otherthan farming was left with money less than a lakh for more than five acres of land.

    The land occupied by Tatas, Narayanamurthys, Premzis, shivnadars... will make money running to crores from the facility.

    Do you think this is correct in term of economy balance.

    (Radhakrishna ahdar_a@rediffmail.com


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