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Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole.

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Give a bowl of rice to a man and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to grow his own rice and you will save his life.” These are the words of Ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius. Its obvious that skilling a person is way more helpful than showing sympathy. You make a hungry person a beggar when you perpetuate giving alms to him , instead if you could make him earn his bread by himself, you save him  from hunger for his entire life.  Temporary solutions may satiate the requirements temporarily while a permanent solution isn’t.

          Dole is the cash benefit given to unemployed but it can be understood in different contexts and perspectives. Let us look at the nature around us, barring the few commons like Air, water, soil most of the materials needed to thrive are gathered by Organisms themselves. Infact nature has not Doled out anything, Tiger has to run a lot for his food, Bees and butterflies will have to tirelessly roam to get nectar, Ants can be seen setting up their own colonies all by themselves. In deserts , plants have adapted to the tough conditions as seen among cactuses. Examples are numerous when it comes to adaptations and thriving strategies of organisms in this world. We Humans have emerged powerful among the species in the world by adapting and surviving the harshest of the conditions yet we are now dependent on Doles -such is the irony!

          Universal Basic Income is a popular demand among citizens to their govt world-wide. Economic problems prevailing tn the society often necessitates such a measure. As a onetime measure such Doles are Life-saving welfare measures Sometimes Political considerations esp.  populist  governments prefer such measures to showcase it as a solution to the problem. Often People stuck in the problem who receives the dole are in dire economic state that such measures bring joy to them and feeling of satisfaction. This is often misused by Politicians to garner votes and the vicious cycle of Dole and votes continue. The state of ‘Hunger’ persists while it is temporarily solved from time to time. The economic ramifications are not understood by those who get these doles are already deprived of basic needs required for a normal life in the society. Poor education , Lower life expectancy due to poor health often sets up the stage for a Dole-demand. In India , which faces poverty is a fertile ground for Doles . It infact, has immense political capital. People generally remember such Doles easily. It has become part of Indian political narrative. Free Food, electricity , houses ,Electrical appliances are very much popular and found in most election manifestos here.  

          For the past few years, Policymakers in India are starting to realise the dangers of Doles. The central Govt. schemes such as JAM triad, Mudra yojana , 1 crore loan in one hour, increasing capital expenditure , Perfomance Linked incentives have come as Helping hand to the manufacturing sector in the economy. Why such measures are better? Because they don’t drain the economy, they have a multiplier effect as they tend to automatically create demand in the economy and skill it as well. It makes policies sustainable in the long term. Infact Doles rarely find a place in a developed country’s election manifesto. The Political narrative, say, in the west, is against subsidy or any other Government intervention in the market.

          Although Doles have potential to drain coffers as it is a mere revenue expenditure, it also has positive socio -economic effects. One case is  that in Tamil Nadu wherein since 1960s Doles have led policymaking. Be it Subsidised Rice or  Gold jewels for brides  or even cooked food at very low prices, these have contributed to the upliftment of the  Socially and economically Backward sections. Even recently PM garib kalyan yojana was a life -saver in the COVID-19  pandemic situation.

          A measured stance is more favourable. For instance, in a disruptive scenario Doles dominate and it becomes necessary. Imagine the situation in 1930s when the Great Depression took a toll in the Developed USA. What would have been the situation if there were no soup kitchens? Allowing the society to die out is foolishness when you can save it but such situations are not permanent. We need to equip people to have skills to find or make soup themselves not permanent soup kitchens!

-Vijay Sridhar

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