I am the first of a specimen for my gas agency guy in Faridabad. The last few times I met him to opt out of my gas subsidy under the Pahal (Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG), he looked at me askance. A few others in the office tittered asking why I didn't want the subsidy, I told them I didn't. On February 2 when I gave in the form with the PAN card copy, the gas 'passbook' copy etc, he looked at me with renewed attention, wonder in fact, telling me that if I withdraw myself from the subsidy I will get every LPG cylinder at market price and not only the ones after exhausting the 12-cylinder quota. I said I knew what I was getting into (or out of). As I was leaving the gas agency, I asked the man how many such forms had he got? He looked at me, a little lost, and said, 'You are the first'.
Then he turned to the next person who had arrived with the form for continuing with the subsidy, a cancelled cheque (for details of the bank account into which the subsidy is to be transferred) and the Aadhar number. It took some time for the momentous fact to sink in on me that for this agency I am as good as Adam, as I became the first person to submit a form saying I don't want LPG subsidy.
This set me thinking. I live in a new sunrise sector of Faridabad, which used to be pejoratively called Neharpar; some smart real estate folks now call it Greater Faridabad. I like the place. The roads have been late in coming but even when they didn't, my puny small car had to make way for fast-moving SUVs that thundered across uneven terrain like in some hurry to make it to the petrol pump before the last few drops of diesel ran out of their CRDI hearts. The irony in the sentence centres on diesel. Heavily subsidised since it's important for the trucking system that runs India where the rails are yet to nailed, diesel is the hot fuel in my neighbourhood and other parts of urban India. There is even subsidy in petrol, I drive a petrol vehicle and am happy with that subsidy, despite being a single-income family. But what about those who run their cars on diesel which gets a higher subsidy and still continue to get subsidised LPG? Petrol and diesel prices are linked to market prices when crude oil price varies, there is still a subsidy on both fuels.
The BJP government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the mandate to make subsidies more efficient and that they reach the people who deserve it. In this light, I gave up my subsidy so that someone who needs it gets it. Faridabad voted for the BJP candidate in last year's Assembly election, heralding the party's first Haryana government.
I hope more people, who can afford to do it, opt out of the LPG subsidy. Let's not continue with the license raj notion of mai-baap sarkar which will continue to bleed with doles for everyone. It is better if the doles are handed out for only those who can't afford it otherwise. This will mean dropping some of your own 'privileges'. I hope the people who voted the BJP to power in Haryana also keep this in mind. This is not grandstanding. It is just a just request.