For the last decade politicians in India appear to have focused on tackling issues surrounding poverty and corruption. One way for Indian Politicians to tackle poverty is to hand out money. A recurring theme at each election time is the promise of money to the poorest in society. This money interestingly never reaches the poor.
Extreme Poverty in India
Promising funds to the poor is a great way to win election; but in the long term has little impact on their economic condition. 59 million people in India live below the poverty line in extreme poverty according to the World Poverty Clock. Targeting the majority of vulnerable population is one way to win votes. The money promised is often repurposed by the officials in the system and the poor in society often never even get to see this money.
In a country of 1.3 billion we have immense resource which we need to be investing in. Rather than promising funds to the poor, that money should be invested in vocational training and educational programs. Further, it should be used to create jobs and opportunities to ensure sustainable provision of funds for the poorest in society.
Money can be exhausted quickly, while an education or a job will empower and sustain an individual for life.
The Corruption Issue & Lack of Sustainable Long Term Policies
While we see attempts to tackle corruption amongst the elite in India. One rarely sees action against officials who are at the heart of the corruption, preying on the poor and the elite equally. It is no secret that funds allocated to the poorest farmers are often appropriated by the numerous officials in the system. Equally, the officials target the elite for bribes for work because our system is broken and inefficient. India is rapidly becoming a country where you cannot even get a passport without 100 steps.
Now I know not all officials are at fault, its rather unfair to only blame officials. But the government needs to build systems that are efficient and effective for the economy to thrive. If we target the rich and rich alone in society, it will go against creating opportunities in the form of setting up businesses and job creation. We need to ensure officials are paid on time and suitably. Equally, policies need to be implemented to get people out of poverty rather than handing them cash once every 5 years at election time.
Our economic system should be designed to promote growth and efficiency within the economy. Our people shouldn’t have to go abroad for better jobs or better education. Politicians simply are not building systems to help the economy thrive. Instead they promote campaigns that will serve them in the short term and help them gain votes.
Modi launched the demonetisation stint in an attempt to tackle corruption to target the richest in society in India. However, not only did the campaign impact the poorest in society the most. It was poorly implemented. According to a report published in Forbes by Transparency International, our corruption rank hasn’t moved.
Our politics has become so reactive that it almost lacks a long term vision for the country. To sustain long term growth, politics need to win votes by promising to take actions that promotes long term growth in the economy rather than giving out handouts.