Call this a poll gimmick or a mere farce. The government is planning to give 6 m mobile phones to people who live below poverty line (BPL) . This project will be known as Bharat Mobile Scheme (BMS). Rather we would call it a Bharat Mobile Scam. And the amount pegged for this scheme was Rs 70 bn when it was first envisaged last year. The government plans to roll out the scheme before elections next year and complete it over a period of three years.
We fail to understand the rationale for providing poor people with mobile phones. What they need the most is food, shelter and better living amenities. True, that there are various plans being executed to solve these issues but the result is also for everyone to see. There are already questions arising on how the government will meet the expenditure arising from the food security bill . Also, it should be noted that right now this plan is just on paper and it might take a while before it actually comes on floor. Affordable housing plans of the government have done little as well.
In short, anything and everything that is being planned to be done for the poor basically results in enriching the government itself. This is because there are leakages in the system and the ultimate benefit hardly reaches the beneficiary.
Also, the moot question that arises over BMS is how will the government fund this expenditure? Rs 70 bn is not a small amount considering that India's fiscal deficit is at alarming levels. We feel this is a sheer wastage of tax payer's money ahead of the elections. And this is at a time when millions are starving for food and basic sanitation facilities. But this has been the tradition of Indian politics. In the past too, many parties have promised to give laptops, TV's, food grinders etc towards the build up to an election campaign. And needless to say hardly any of these promises have materialized. And even if some of them have the benefits were far lower than what was promised due to pilferages prevailing in the system.
According to us, it is high time that the Indian voters do not get wooed by just promises. Also, it must be noted that majority of these benefits are for people who live below poverty line. And since they are easy to target by doling out goodies political parties are making the most of it to influence voting patterns. True that in democracy every individual has the right to exercise his franchise at will. But the government also has its duties towards citizens. But it hardly pays any heed to it. By luring poor people with goodies it is making sure that it remains in power. However, this does not help the fiscal situation as funding for such wasteful expenditures remains a big challenge.
We also believe that a change in the government will also do no good. The new one will just keep following the same principle as obsession for power is much important for political honchos than a clean and properly managed administrative system!
Thus it is now for the taxpayers and voters to seek some transparency and logic about the use of funds from those running the show.