Palliatives, not solutions: When politicians hide failures under largesse

Voters have learnt to look for what they can get today, not tomorrow, and seem to choose parties offering the most generous packages - which encourages a rush to raid the treasury - notes T N Ninan

election, politician, politics

Illustration: Binay Sinha

T N Ninan

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Early in 1996, your columnist met the then finance minister, Manmohan Singh, in his North Block office. On being told that the Congress party would not be talking of economic reforms in its forthcoming Lok Sabha election campaign, Dr Singh retorted: “What else is there to talk about?”

The answer has come in all the elections since then: Loan writeoffs, higher-than-market procurement prices for grain, free foodgrain for the majority of consumers, job reservations for new caste categories, unsustainable pension programmes, an ever growing list of freebies and subsidies, and (increasingly) cash handouts. There is also credit taken for developmental work: Building the physical infrastructure, and the progressive provision of basics (toilets, electricity, and internet connectivity). What economists call reforms
Disclaimer: These are personal views of the writer. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or the Business Standard newspaper

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First Published: Nov 17 2023 | 7:17 PM IST

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