Editorial Summary 24/3

Mumbai muckracking

  • charge on Home Minister not surprising, nevertheless needs serious investigation
  • reputation of Mr Singh hardly inspiring, raised allegations only after he was removed as Commissioner -Singh moving to SC for CBI inquiry is self-implicating as he could have acted on these allegations while he was commissioner -BJP trying to topple the State government using central agencies
  • Singh has been important instrument for State govt : the testimony of which is the fact that Shiv Sena sprung up immediately in his defence after he was removed - but sinceafter the allegations made on the Minister, Singh's attempts have been termed as a conspiracy by all 3 parties in power
  • BJP trying hard to reclaim power in State, ruling parties united by survival instinct- hence, neither state police not central agency probe is reassuring, need a neutral investigation

Corrective Voice

  • set aside absurd MP high court order of rakhi-for-bail for sexual offender
  • asked all courts to refrain from imposing marriage or mandate any compromise between sex offender and victim -listed host of avoidable stereotypes: women are physically weak, men are head of the house, women must be submissive and obedient

In the past

  • Justice Chandrachud: argued for treating women same as men in army
  • Court: called out notion of romantic paternalism

The absent programme at the Kerala hustings

  • manifestos compete in offering welfare payments
  • have been received with scepticism as one wonders how the fresh expenditure will be funded

Kerela Model

  • State focusses on welfare- funded by debt
  • Kerela has one of the highest levels of public debt per capita among Indian states
  • Although the economic profession globally has agreed that during the pandemic the level of public debt ought not to hold back necessary public expenditure- but in Kerela this is a structural feature- to elevate the expenditures in relation to revenue
  • unsustainable model because inter-generational debt shifting is not a trivial issue, also it is justified only when borrowing creates capital assets, but this is not happening in Kerela
  • however, either side's manifestos have paid little attention to this problem and have not hinted towards any new resource mobilisation

Different Welfarism

  • a welfare state is a perfectly natural aspiration for a democracy
  • however, a genuine welfare state has benefits finances by taxes, for two reasons- one, financial viability and two, citizens have a sense of ownership of the programmes
  • this feature distinguishes Kerela's welfarism with a genuine welfare state

Coverage

  • Kerela has very high percentage of children in private schools and out-of-pocket expenditure on health in India
  • increase welfare payments, in absence of resource mobilisation and low tax collections, can only mean reduced spending for health and education

Need for alternative funding ways

  • cannot fund welfare scheme forever by borrowing as it would lead to higher fiscal burden if not debt trap
  • hence, no alternative to funding welfare schemes via higher taxation or some other source of public funding
  • funding can also be through contributions made by workers (like in European welfare states)- will only happen if everyone is employed for at least some stage in their lives
  • for this state will have to increase employment levels but right now, unemployment in Kerela youth is more than national average and no party in its manifesto has promised any programme for employment generation

Broadening Tax Net

  • state's tax largely derived from 4 sources: liquor, lotteries, petrol, motor vehicles
  • are all items of mass consumption, hence working class contributed most but middle class is disproportionately benefiting
  • hence, tax net needs to be broadened from POV of equity and buoyancy
  • can start with steeply progressive taxation of property stands

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