[Answered] “Populist measures like highly subsidised food and goods although help poor but is an unsustainable policy measure and not a permanent solution.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. How populist schemes are immediate relief and not a long term solution?
Conclusion. Way forward.

Schemes like offering free food or cooked food at very low prices although help in providing meal to needy but also put extra burden on public exchequer. It has also been seen as an undemocratic mean to gain public support. Populist measures like this shatters the hopes of a shift to market-driven policies and is not seen as a long term solution.

Populist schemes- an immediate relief.

  1. These measures are important and act as immediate. It help the poor and needy by making resources accessible and affordable to them.
  2. Competitive populism can also be a very effective way to identify the long-felt community needs. Since these are area-specific, political parties and candidates will focus on local problems, thereby making elections more issue-oriented and participatory, and our democracy more vibrant and responsive.
  3. They will remain the critical components of the social safety net and poverty alleviation programmes of any government.

Populist measures- not a long term sustainable solution:

  1. In an extremely diverse and heterogeneous society like ours, satisfying individual desires with scarce public resources is impossible. Specific forms of individual assistance will end up satisfying few, and even that only partially, while leaving the large majority dissatisfied.
  2. Further, the scarce resources and huge demand does not benefit anybody, rather put extra pressure on states.
  3. Focus should be on connecting roads, water supply, sewerage facilities, agriculture storage and marketing facilities, community halls and libraries, school and hospital buildings, and check-dams and irrigation channels. This improves the productivity and living standards of local residents, encouraging further investment, providing jobs and expanding economic and commercial opportunities.
  4. Subsidy encourage inefficiency by relying more in the subsidy money that offered by the governments and do not address the real issues like increasing incomes of the poor.
  5. These schemes put extra burden on state’s purse and generally lead to fiscal deficit, thereby affecting growth prospects of state.
  6. These schemes act as a tool of diversion from real issues, and suppress the real issues in the name of freebies.
  7. These programmes are too complex to conceive and administer, and should be done so taking into account the varying needs and problems of different areas and communities. Their designing cannot be left to the caprices of the political marketplace.

The aim should not be to blindly eliminate populism, but to channel it towards achieving socially and economically desirable objectives. Ultimately, the state is spending money, and it is only appropriate that this expenditure generate the maximum benefit and social welfare.

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