Let us look at a few events or schemes in the recent past.
- The Direct Benefit Transfer scheme which used aadhaar data. One of the popular places where this was used was LPG subsidy.
- A cap of subsidized LPG cylinders to 9 per household per year. This was expected to save the Government thousands of crores.
- An attempt to curb illegal LPG connections (multiple connections per household, using domestic connections for commercial use), by linking the LPG subsidy through aadhaar.
- An attempt (at least, in Karnataka) to curb illegal LPG connections by linking LPG account with the electricity bill per household.
What is common to all of the above?
All of them are scrapped. By pretty much the same people who initiated the schemes.
- Was it because the schemes did not make sense?
- Was it because the schemes did not save money or curb illegal activities?
No. Then why?
- They were not populist.
- They did not generate or nurture vote banks.
- They caused hardships to few (for instance, those who genuinely needed more than 9 gas cylinders per year).
At the end of the day, who loses?
It is the average Indian who follows rules, participates in each of the schemes in good faith and does what it takes.
The rest of the population, who
- don't care
- know these schemes are ephemeral
- are powerful enough to ensure that they are rolled back.
Why was the cap of number of cylinders for LPG subsidy increased from 9 to 12? Because one politician woke up one morning and declared that "people want it".
Why was the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme scrapped? There is no official reason why (to the extent that I could make out). If it was due to poor enrollment, that illustrates a fundamental issue in India - inability to enforce any rule or regulation. If it was because it would have curbed illegal use of LPG, then it is evident that those who scrapped the scheme (or their influencers) are adversely affected by it.
Incidently, what happens to aadhaar now? Yet another identity document. Nothing more. Nothing less. As for the person behind it, he is rewarded with a Congress ticket for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.