03 August, 2021

Doling Out Thoughts

Does the middle class need LPG subsidy? Should MPs eat cheap?

Nirala Tripathi
Doling Out Thoughts

During the past year, more than a million Indians have voluntarily surrendered their subsidised cooking gas. The Modi government’s campaign to persuade them to do so, arguing that the money ought to be directed towards the more deserving, is path-breaking in its attempt to change the narrative on subsidies in what is still very much a developing country.

There has been plenty of public discourse on whether the less deserving have hogged the lion’s share of subsidies. In particular, it has been asked whether fuel subsidies for the middle class take away what should rightfully go to the much larger populace that doesn’t own vehicles; also whether agriculture subsidies, including  income-tax exemption, end up benefiting better-off landowners to the det­­ri­ment of subsistence farmers. Attempts to direct subsidies to the poorest (such as a targeted public distribution system), which have given mixed results, have also been caught in the crossfire of ideologies, with some sections of the polity accusing others of trying to deprive the...

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