Off the Record: Where Politics and Economics Meet

Assembly Polls 2018: India deserves more than empty promises from its politicians

Come December 11 when the results come, people of India will lose and the netas will win as there is no way all that's been promised can be implemented.

 |  Off the Record: Where Politics and Economics Meet  |  3-minute read |   10-12-2018
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We have heard it all this election season. The BJP has promised 50 lakh private sector jobs in Rajasthan. The Congress has promised an unemployment allowance of Rs 3,500 per person. In Telangana, the Congress has promised a Rs 2 lakh crop loan waiver, free power supply to farmers, unemployment allowance, double pension, housing subsidy.

Estimates suggest that fulfilling Congress’ promises would require an additional one lakh crore rupees in a state which is already battling a debt of  Rs 2.25 lakh crore. Telangana’s total income or revenue during 2017-18 was less than Rs 90,000 crore.

Political parties use elections to present grand visions, a utopian world in which all will be well.

praja1-copy_120718063238.jpgOur politicians need to promise us more than just silken dreams. (Photo: PTI)

There will be homes, jobs, money – all provided by the state. In earlier instances, states such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab sanctioned farm loan waivers, which accounted to 1.3 per cent of the state GDP in Maharashtra and over 2 per cent in UP and Punjab. Karnataka scheme was worth 2.4 per cent of state GDP.

According to an RBI report, about a third of the overall fiscal slippage can be attributed to farm loan waivers.

State fiscal deficits have been higher than the 3 per cent of the GDP as laid out in the Fiscal Responsibility Budget Management Act for the past three years – which puts the fiscal health of the centre at risk as well.

Moving on from the fiscal implications, let us also consider the cultural and psychological implications of promising the moon and not creating an ecosystem for realising those aspirations.

Two days ago, I overheard my server at a restaurant in the very posh Khan Market complain to his colleague about his girlfriend’s love for clothes from global retail brand Zara. When you go out, the first thing a young twenty-something is bound to notice about you is your gadgets. They might be unemployed or underemployed but will be carrying a mobile device worth a lakh of rupees.

Malls, brands and an explosion of media have brought the world to our doorstep and into our homes, and our politicians have had us believe that the good life can be ours without working for it. If our politicians were to take a cue from the protests in France, a developed nation, they would know better about the perils of promising the moon.

modi11-copy_120718063319.jpgPM Modi made many promises in 2014. Few of them remain unfulfilled. (Photo: PTI)

Because life doesn’t run on promises and doles, but on hard work and systems that work. Prime Minister Modi should take a cue from his own diary — a lot of the flak he faces today is because of tall promises he made during his campaign rallies in 2014.

And that’s probably why, instead of listing his government’s achievements, he is having to resort to the "Naamdaar and Raazdaar" narrative.

People of India deserve better. To make fools out of them in the garb of votes is the worst disservice and takes the meaning out of public service – what politicians say they got into politics for.

When the results of the five states (Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Rajasthan) come out on December 11th, the people of India will lose and the netas will win. Because there is no way they can implement all that they have promised.

Also Read: Rajasthan Elections: Forget the Maharaja-Maharani spiel. Here's what the young crowd of Jaipur wants these polls

Writer

Shweta Punj Shweta Punj @shwwetapunj

Senior Editor, India Today. Has been writing on policy for more than a decade.

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