Who pays for freebies that netas dole out?

Who pays for freebies that netas dole out?

True Dharma is in keeping one’s promise and honouring one’s words

True Dharma is in keeping one’s promise and honouring one’s words. King or common man, both have to keep promise for Dharma to flourish in society. What would Ramayana be without the promise or vow given to Kaikeyi by King Dashrath and subsequently Kaikeyi compelling him to keep the promise? In Mahabharata would the course of events and the internecine bloodshed have been averted had Bhishma not taken his monstrous oath of lifelong celibacy and relinquishing his rights? The premise of both the epics, interestingly, hinges on promises, resolutions and oaths. In both cases, the resolutions are the trigger points, they change the narrative quickly and drastically. That brings us to the importance and impact of such heavy, humongous resolutions in the epics.

Why are promises made and resolutions taken? However, varied may be the answers, they were definitely not meant to be broken. Its election time in India with five states shortly going for polls to elect their representatives to represent their voice in the working of the government that comes to power. With the announcement of the election commission, there is a sudden spurt in the activities of the candidates and their parties. Hectic parleys and ambitious promises have become the menu of all the election rallies. All promises made during any election campaign by the candidate representing a particular party are just proposals. Nothing is in their hands. Because campaigning is essentially a marketing process, in which candidates present themselves as products and make proposals on how they will perform if they get the job of that particular seat from that particular constituency.

That is why campaign promises are such an important part of election process, especially if, they revolve around issues that divide a nation or create emotional interest. Most often, these issues involve money. Most of the campaign promises are enticing, tempting, talk is cheap and even candidates with the best intention can have difficulty making them happen.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common campaign promises that candidates make, and evaluate what it takes to make these promises a reality. These promises are often used as persuasive sound bites rather than actual promises. Two of the most common campaign promises resolve around the cuts and job creation and eradication of poverty.

Campaign promises may change slightly from election to election whether it is Municipal, State or Parliamentary, but they are almost always related to changing current issues that are on the minds of voters. There are promises that are credible and reasonable and those that are simply, shots in the dark. Promises of job creation are very popular for the campaigning candidate, especially if the current economic environment is weak and unemployment is an issue. A promise to create jobs can be both reasonable and unreasonable.

It is interesting to see how history tends to repeat itself and how short- term our memories can be with good intentions candidates stage their platforms with campaign promises designed to sway voters’ opinion and get elected. Some of the promises are ideological in nature and difficult to quantify, while others are more direct and accountable. In an ideal world each campaign promise would be presented with a story but the political process does not seem to promote that concept. Campaign promises can create controversy, evoke emotions and can tilt an election toward the candidate that either has the best promise or market the ideas the best. Unfortunately, what candidates promise and what they are able to deliver can be very different things particularly when candidates are met with unforeseen political or economic hurdles once in office. The truth is that promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible. Mega road shows of politicians covering the length and breadth of their constituencies are electrifying and colourful. In their best attire, bus loads, of voters are being wooed to attend the political rallies. The women voters are gifted sarees, liquor for men and of course there is always free flow of cash, an open secret known to all. Unfortunately, the leaders of the regional party in power in the states encourage the voters to accept the money offered by the national parties and vote for their party.

There is a new trend started by some parties in which they directly promise such items, which in common parlance are termed as ‘Freebies’. Actually, the culture of freebies is not new to the country. It began in 60’s with mid-day meals and free ration being offered to entice voters. They were aimed at targeted groups like BPL families, weaker sections of the society, women, handicapped etc. These days these offers have no limit, each party vying with the other in the ‘offer’. It is TVs, Laptops, and smartphones culture, ignoring the effects of political, economic and psychological effects on voters by these gifts. The democratic spirit is harmed by this culture which weighs heavy on the taxpayer’s wallet and laziness among the people is being encouraged.

Freebies is a short cut to woo voters. They have become a part and parcel of electioneering in India. It is indistinguishable from election campaigns when politicians make promises of free- drinking water, electricity, ration, public transport for women gas cylinders at subsidized rates, the very essentials of a comfortable life. Many election manifestos published contains the declaration of the ideology, policies and programmes of a political party.

The manifesto serves as a reference document or a benchmark for the public at large for what a political party stands for. Most manifestos talk of job creation and security, pension scheme for aged and helpless farmers, ensuring comprehensive social security at those at special risk, making quality education affordable to everyone, waiving of agricultural loans, primary healthcare, medical cover for specified categories of people such as widows, old age pensioners, farmers, fee reimbursement for students of economically backward group, unemployment pension for eligible graduates, pension for martyrs families and government job for one family member, electric scooty, for girls above 18 years of age and financial help for the marriageable daughter. The truth is not one election till today is fought on economic policies of the country but always on social issues.

Across the western world, political parties aren’t highly likely to fulfill their election promises. In US, Bill Clinton’s universal health care system promise and George H W Bush’s promise to never raise taxes backfired against both of them, once they were elected.

A promise is to keep. Breaking it is akin to dishonour, a sin, an irrefutable measure of self-failure. However dramatic or tragic the events unfold, it does not undermine the importance of the sanctity of that resolution. Keep every promise you make and only make promises you can keep. Never break a promise made to needy, suffering, destitute, they believe in you because they live on hopes.

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