You are here: Home » Opinion » Columns
Business Standard

Freebies vs welfare debate and the much-ignored advice of Lee Kuan Yew

The issue is not the freebies, but the constraint of limited means. If a government has the money, it can dish out whatever freebies it likes, but not if it is highly indebted, writes T N Ninan

welfare economy | welfare schemes | Weekend Ruminations

T N Ninan 

T N Ninan

The debate over “freebies vs development expenditure” reflects a primary problem that economics is supposed to tackle: The relationship between unlimited wants and limited means that have alternative uses. So would you sacrifice an electricity subsidy to invest in better schools? Or, should you prefer building more highways to expanding the health budget? This is the issue that the Prime Minister posed when he said freebies were coming in the way of development.



What you get on Business Standard Premium?

  • icon Unlock 30+ premium stories daily hand-picked by our editors, across devices on browser and app.
  • icon Full access to our intuitive epaper - clip, save, share articles from any device; newspaper archives from 2006.
  • icon Curated newsletters on markets, personal finance, policy & politics, start-ups, technology, and more.
  • icon Pick your 5 favourite companies, get a daily email with all news updates on them.
  • icon 26 years of website archives.
  • icon Preferential invites to Business Standard events.


Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Fri, August 12 2022. 19:26 IST