|QA->In a club 70% members read English news papers and 75% members read Malayalam news papers, while 20% do not read both papers. If 325 members read both the news papers, then the total numbers in the club is .........?....|
|QA->The new company whichhas been set up to implement radio tag-enabled electronic toll collection(ETC)systems across all highways by March 2016 and has decided to make ETC lanes asa mandatory clause in the new highway building contracts.....|
|QA->Which programme has the objective of establishing a network of basic services and facilities of social consumption in all areas upto nationally accepted names within a specific time frame?....|
|QA->Which state has made possession of Aadhaar card mandatory for teaching and non teaching staff to draw salaries?....|
|QA->"Take care to get what you like, or you will be forced to like what you get"....|
Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain words/phrases have been given in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions: In every religion, culture and civilization feeding the poor and hungry is considered one of the most noble deeds. However such large scale feeding will require huge investment both in resources and time. A better alternative is to create conditions by which proper wholesome food is available to all the rural poor at affordable price. Getting this done will be the biggest charity.Our work with the rural poor in villages of Western Maharashtra has shown that most of these people are landless laborers. After working the whole day in the fields in scorching sun they come home in the evening and have to cook for the whole family. The cooking is done on the most primitive chulha (wood stove) which results in tremendous indoor air pollution. Many of them also have no electricity so they use primitive and polluting kerosene lamps. World Health Organization (WHO) data has shown that about 300,000 deaths/ year in India can be directly attributed to indoor air pollution in such -nuts. At the same time this pollution results in many respiratory ailments and these people spend close Rs. 200-400 per month on medical bills. Besides the pollution, rural poor also eat very poor diet. They eat whatever is available daily at Public Distribution System (PDS) shops and most of the times these shops are out of rations. Thus they cook whatever is available. The hard work together with poor eating takes a heavy toll on their health. Besides this malnutrition also affects the physical and mental health of their children and may lead to creation of a whole generation of mentally challenged citizens. So I feel that the best way to provide adequate food for rural poor is by setting up rural restaurants on large scale. These restaurants will be similar to regular ones but for people below poverty line (BPL) they will provide meals at subsidized rates. These citizens will pay only Rs. 10 per meal and the rest, which is expected to be quite small, will come as a part of Government subsidy. With existing open market prices of vegetables and groceries average cost of simple meal for a family of four comes to Rs. 50 per meal or Rs. 12.50 per person per meal. If the PDS prices are taken for the groceries then the average cost will be Rs. 7.50 per person per meal. This makes the subsidy approximately Rs. 2.50 per person per meal only and hence quite small. The buying of meals could be by the use of UID (Aadhar) card by rural poor. The total cost should be Rs. 30 per day for three vegetarian meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rural poor will get better nutrition and tasty food by eating in these restaurants. Besides the time saved can be used for resting and other gainful activities like teaching children. Since the food will not be cooked in huts, this strategy will result in less pollution in rural households. This will be beneficial for their health. Besides, women's chores will be reduced drastically. Another advantage of eating in these restaurants will be increased social interaction of rural poor since this could also become a meeting place. Eating in restaurants will also require fewer utensils in house and hence less expenditure. For other things like hot water for bath, making tea, boiling milk and cooking on holidays some utensils and fuel will be required. Our Institute NARI has developed an extremely efficient and environment-friendly stove which provides simultaneously both light and heat for cooking and hence may provide the necessary functions. Providing reasonably priced wholesome food is the basic aim and program of Government of India (GOI). This is the basis of their much touted food security program.However in 65years they have not been able to do so. Thus I feel a public private partnership can help in this. To help the restaurant owners the GOI or state Governments should provide them with soft loans and other line of credit for setting up such facilities. Corporate world can take this up as a part of their corporate social responsibility activity. Their participation will help ensure good quality restaurants and services. Besides the charitable work, this will also make good business sense. McDonald's-type restaurant systems for rural areas can be a good model to be set up for quality control both in terms of hygiene and in terms of quality of food material. However focus will be on availability of wholesome simple vegetarian food in these restaurants.More clientele (volumes) will make these restaurants economical. Existing models of dhabas, udipi type restaurants etc. can be used in this scheme. These restaurants may also be able to provide midday meals in rural schools. At present the midday meal program is faltering due to various reasons. Food coupons in western countries provide cheap food for poor. However quite a number of fast food restaurants in US do not accept them. Besides these coupons are most of the times used for non-food items, it will be mandatory for rural restaurants to accept payment via UID cards for BPL citizens. Existing soup kitchens, lagers and temple food are based on charity. For large scale rural use it should be based on good social enterprise business model. Cooking food in these restaurants will also result in much more efficient use of energy since energy/ kg of food cooked in households is greater than that in restaurants. The main thing however will be to reduce drastically the food wastage In these restaurants. Rural restaurants can also be forced to use clean fuels like LPG or locally produced biomass-based liquid fuels. This strategy is very difficult to enforce for individual households. Large scale employment generation in rural areas may result because of this activity. With an average norm of 30 people employed/ 100-chair restaurant, this program has the potential of generating about 20 million jobs permanently in rural areas. Besides the infrastructure development in setting up restaurants and establishing the food chain etc will help the local farmers and will create huge wealth generation in these areas. In the long run this strategy may provide better food security for rural poor than the existing one which is based on cheap food availability in PDS - a system which is prone to corruption and leakage.In accordance with the view expressed by the writer of this article, what is the biggest charity ?|
|MCQ-> The broad scientific understanding today is that our planet is experiencing a warming trend over and above natural and normal variations that is almost certainly due to human activities associated with large-scale manufacturing. The process began in the late 1700s with the Industrial Revolution, when manual labor, horsepower, and water power began to be replaced by or enhanced by machines. This revolution, over time, shifted Britain, Europe, and eventually North America from largely agricultural and trading societies to manufacturing ones, relying on machinery and engines rather than tools and animals.The Industrial Revolution was at heart a revolution in the use of energy and power. Its beginning is usually dated to the advent of the steam engine, which was based on the conversion of chemical energy in wood or coal to thermal energy and then to mechanical work primarily the powering of industrial machinery and steam locomotives. Coal eventually supplanted wood because, pound for pound, coal contains twice as much energy as wood (measured in BTUs, or British thermal units, per pound) and because its use helped to save what was left of the world's temperate forests. Coal was used to produce heat that went directly into industrial processes, including metallurgy, and to warm buildings, as well as to power steam engines. When crude oil came along in the mid- 1800s, still a couple of decades before electricity, it was burned, in the form of kerosene, in lamps to make light replacing whale oil. It was also used to provide heat for buildings and in manufacturing processes, and as a fuel for engines used in industry and propulsion.In short, one can say that the main forms in which humans need and use energy are for light, heat, mechanical work and motive power, and electricity which can be used to provide any of the other three, as well as to do things that none of those three can do, such as electronic communications and information processing. Since the Industrial Revolution, all these energy functions have been powered primarily, but not exclusively, by fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide (CO2), To put it another way, the Industrial Revolution gave a whole new prominence to what Rochelle Lefkowitz, president of Pro-Media Communications and an energy buff, calls "fuels from hell" - coal, oil, and natural gas. All these fuels from hell come from underground, are exhaustible, and emit CO2 and other pollutants when they are burned for transportation, heating, and industrial use. These fuels are in contrast to what Lefkowitz calls "fuels from heaven" -wind, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, and solar power. These all come from above ground, are endlessly renewable, and produce no harmful emissions.Meanwhile, industrialization promoted urbanization, and urbanization eventually gave birth to suburbanization. This trend, which was repeated across America, nurtured the development of the American car culture, the building of a national highway system, and a mushrooming of suburbs around American cities, which rewove the fabric of American life. Many other developed and developing countries followed the American model, with all its upsides and downsides. The result is that today we have suburbs and ribbons of highways that run in, out, and around not only America s major cities, but China's, India's, and South America's as well. And as these urban areas attract more people, the sprawl extends in every direction.All the coal, oil, and natural gas inputs for this new economic model seemed relatively cheap, relatively inexhaustible, and relatively harmless-or at least relatively easy to clean up afterward. So there wasn't much to stop the juggernaut of more people and more development and more concrete and more buildings and more cars and more coal, oil, and gas needed to build and power them. Summing it all up, Andy Karsner, the Department of Energy's assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, once said to me: "We built a really inefficient environment with the greatest efficiency ever known to man."Beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, a scientific understanding began to emerge that an excessive accumulation of largely invisible pollutants-called greenhouse gases - was affecting the climate. The buildup of these greenhouse gases had been under way since the start of the Industrial Revolution in a place we could not see and in a form we could not touch or smell. These greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide emitted from human industrial, residential, and transportation sources, were not piling up along roadsides or in rivers, in cans or empty bottles, but, rather, above our heads, in the earth's atmosphere. If the earth's atmosphere was like a blanket that helped to regulate the planet's temperature, the CO2 buildup was having the effect of thickening that blanket and making the globe warmer.Those bags of CO2 from our cars float up and stay in the atmosphere, along with bags of CO2 from power plants burning coal, oil, and gas, and bags of CO2 released from the burning and clearing of forests, which releases all the carbon stored in trees, plants, and soil. In fact, many people don't realize that deforestation in places like Indonesia and Brazil is responsible for more CO2 than all the world's cars, trucks, planes, ships, and trains combined - that is, about 20 percent of all global emissions. And when we're not tossing bags of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we're throwing up other greenhouse gases, like methane (CH4) released from rice farming, petroleum drilling, coal mining, animal defecation, solid waste landfill sites, and yes, even from cattle belching. Cattle belching? That's right-the striking thing about greenhouse gases is the diversity of sources that emit them. A herd of cattle belching can be worse than a highway full of Hummers. Livestock gas is very high in methane, which, like CO2, is colorless and odorless. And like CO2, methane is one of those greenhouse gases that, once released into the atmosphere, also absorb heat radiating from the earth's surface. "Molecule for molecule, methane's heat-trapping power in the atmosphere is twenty-one times stronger than carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas.." reported Science World (January 21, 2002). “With 1.3 billion cows belching almost constantly around the world (100 million in the United States alone), it's no surprise that methane released by livestock is one of the chief global sources of the gas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ... 'It's part of their normal digestion process,' says Tom Wirth of the EPA. 'When they chew their cud, they regurgitate [spit up] some food to rechew it, and all this gas comes out.' The average cow expels 600 liters of methane a day, climate researchers report." What is the precise scientific relationship between these expanded greenhouse gas emissions and global warming? Experts at the Pew Center on Climate Change offer a handy summary in their report "Climate Change 101. " Global average temperatures, notes the Pew study, "have experienced natural shifts throughout human history. For example; the climate of the Northern Hemisphere varied from a relatively warm period between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries to a period of cooler temperatures between the seventeenth century and the middle of the nineteenth century. However, scientists studying the rapid rise in global temperatures during the late twentieth century say that natural variability cannot account for what is happening now." The new factor is the human factor-our vastly increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil as well as from deforestation, large-scale cattle-grazing, agriculture, and industrialization.“Scientists refer to what has been happening in the earth’s atmosphere over the past century as the ‘enhanced greenhouse effect’”, notes the Pew study. By pumping man- made greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humans are altering the process by which naturally occurring greenhouse gases, because of their unique molecular structure, trap the sun’s heat near the earth’s surface before that heat radiates back into space."The greenhouse effect keeps the earth warm and habitable; without it, the earth's surface would be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit colder on average. Since the average temperature of the earth is about 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the natural greenhouse effect is clearly a good thing. But the enhanced greenhouse effect means even more of the sun's heat is trapped, causing global temperatures to rise. Among the many scientific studies providing clear evidence that an enhanced greenhouse effect is under way was a 2005 report from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Using satellites, data from buoys, and computer models to study the earth's oceans, scientists concluded that more energy is being absorbed from the sun than is emitted back to space, throwing the earth's energy out of balance and warming the globe."Which of the following statements is correct? (I) Greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming. They should be eliminated to save the planet (II) CO2 is the most dangerous of the greenhouse gases. Reduction in the release of CO2 would surely bring down the temperature (III) The greenhouse effect could be traced back to the industrial revolution. But the current development and the patterns of life have enhanced their emissions (IV) Deforestation has been one of the biggest factors contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases Choose the correct option:....|
I want to stress this personal helplessness we are all stricken with in the face of a system that has passed beyond our knowledge and control. To bring it nearer home, I propose that we switch off from the big things like empires and their wars to more familiar little things. Take pins for example! I do not know why it is that I so seldom use a pin when my wife cannot get on without boxes of them at hand; but it is so; and I will therefore take pins as being for some reason specially important to women.There was a time when pinmakers would buy the material; shape it; make the head and the point; ornament it; and take it to the market, and sell it and the making required skill in several operations. They not only knew how the thing was done from beginning to end, but could do it all by themselves. But they could not afford to sell you a paper of pins for the farthing. Pins cost so much that a woman's dress allowance was calling pin money.By the end of the 18th century Adam Smith boasted that it took 18 men to make a pin, each man doing a little bit of the job and passing the pin on to the next, and none of them being able to make a whole pin or to buy the materials or to sell it when it was made. The most you could say for them was that at least they had some idea of how it was made, though they could not make it. Now as this meant that they were clearly less capable and knowledgeable men than the old pin-makers, you may ask why Adam Smith boasted of it as a triumph of civilisation when its effect had so clearly a degrading effect. The reason was that by setting each man to do just one little bit of the work and nothing but that, over and over again, he became very quick at it. The men, it is said, could turn out nearly 5000 pins a day each; and thus pins became plentiful and cheap. The country was supposed to be richer because it had more pins, though it had turned capable men into mere machines doing their work without intelligence and being fed by the spare food of the capitalist just as an engine is fed with coals and oil. That was why the poet Goldsmith, who was a farsighted economist as well as a poet, complained that 'wealth accumulates, and men decay'.Nowadays Adam Smith's 18 men are as extinct as the diplodocus. The 18 flesh-and-blood men have been replaced by machines of steel which spout out pins by the hundred million. Even sticking them into pink papers is done by machinery. The result is that with the exception of a few people who design the machines, nobody knows how to make a pin or how a pin is made: that is to say, the modern worker in pin manufacture need not be one-tenth so intelligent, skilful and accomplished as the old pinmaker; and the only compensation we have for this deterioration is that pins are so cheap that a single pin has no expressible value at all. Even with a big profit stuck on to the cost-price you can buy dozens for a farthing; and pins are so recklessly thrown away and wasted that verses have to be written to persuade children (without success) that it is a sin to steal, if even it’s a pin.Many serious thinkers, like John Ruskin and William Morris, have been greatly troubled by this, just as Goldsmith was, and have asked whether we really believe that it is an advance in wealth to lose our skill and degrade our workers for the sake of being able to waste pins by the ton. We shall see later on, when we come to consider the Distribution of Leisure, that the cure for this is not to go back to the old free for higher work than pin-making or the like. But in the meantime the fact remains that the workers are now not able to make anything themselves even in little bits. They are ignorant and helpless, and cannot lift their finger to begin their day's work until it has all been arranged for them by their employer's who themselves do not understand the machines they buy, and simply pay other people to set them going by carrying out the machine maker's directions.The same is true for clothes. Earlier the whole work of making clothes, from the shearing of the sheep to the turning out of the finished and washed garment ready to put on, had to be done in the country by the men and women of the household, especially the women; so that to this day an unmarried woman is called a spinster. Nowadays nothing is left of all this but the sheep shearing; and even that, like the milking of cows, is being done by machinery, as the sewing is. Give a woman a sheep today and ask her to produce a woollen dress for you; and not only will she be quite unable to do it, but you are likely to find that she is not even aware of any connection between sheep and clothes. When she gets her clothes, which she does by buying them at the shop, she knows that there is a difference between wool and cotton and silk, between flannel and merino, perhaps even between stockinet and other wefts; but as to how they are made, or what they are made of, or how they came to be in the shop ready for her to buy, she knows hardly anything. And the shop assistant from whom she buys is no wiser. The people engaged in the making of them know even less; for many of them are too poor to have much choice of materials when they buy their own clothes.Thus the capitalist system has produced an almost universal ignorance of how things are made and done, whilst at the same time it has caused them to be made and done on a gigantic scale. We have to buy books and encyclopaedias to find out what it is we are doing all day; and as the books are written by people who are not doing it, and who get their information from other books, what they tell us is twenty to fifty years out of date knowledge and almost impractical today. And of course most of us are too tired of our work when we come home to want to read about it; what we need is cinema to take our minds off it and feel our imagination.It is a funny place, this word of capitalism, with its astonishing spread of education and enlightenment. There stand the thousands of property owners and the millions of wage workers, none of them able to make anything, none of them knowing what to do until somebody tells them, none of them having the least notion of how it is made that they find people paying them money, and things in the shops to buy with it. And when they travel they are surprised to find that savages and Esquimaux and villagers who have to make everything for themselves are more intelligent and resourceful! The wonder would be if they were anything else. We should die of idiocy through disuse of our mental faculties if we did not fill our heads with romantic nonsense out of illustrated newspapers and novels and plays and films. Such stuff keeps us alive, but it falsifies everything for us so absurdly that it leaves us more or less dangerous lunatics in the real world.Excuse my going on like this; but as I am a writer of books and plays myself, I know the folly and peril of it better than you do. And when I see that this moment of our utmost ignorance and helplessness, delusion and folly, has been stumbled on by the blind forces of capitalism as the moment for giving votes to everybody, so that the few wise women are hopelessly overruled by the thousands whose political minds, as far as they can be said to have any political minds at all, have been formed in the cinema, I realise that I had better stop writing plays for a while to discuss political and social realities in this book with those who are intelligent enough to listen to me.A suitable title to the passage would be|
The current debate on intellectual property rights (IPRs) raises a number of important issues concerning the strategy and policies for building a more dynamic national agricultural research system, the relative roles of public and private sectors, and the role of agribusiness multinational corporations (MNCs). This debate has been stimulated by the international agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), negotiated as part of the Uruguay Round. TRIPs, for the first time, seeks to bring innovations in agricultural technology under a new worldwide IPR regime. The agribusiness MNCs (along with pharmaceutical companies) played a leading part in lobbying for such a regime during the Uruguay Round negotiations. The argument was that incentives are necessary to stimulate innovations, and that this calls for a system of patents which gives innovators the sole right to use (or sell/lease the right to use) their innovations for a specified period and protects them against unauthorised copying or use. With strong support of their national governments, they were influential in shaping the agreement on TRIPs, which eventually emerged from the Uruguay Round.
The current debate on TRIPs in India - as indeed elsewhere - echoes wider concerns about ‘privatisation’ of research and allowing a free field for MNCs in the sphere of biotechnology and agriculture. The agribusiness corporations, and those with unbounded faith in the power of science to overcome all likely problems, point to the vast potential that new technology holds for solving the problems of hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the world. The exploitation of this potential should be encouraged and this is best done by the private sector for which patents are essential. Some, who do not necessarily accept this optimism, argue that fears of MNC domination are exaggerated and that farmers will accept their products only if they decisively outperform the available alternatives. Those who argue against agreeing to introduce an IPR regime in agriculture and encouraging private sector research are apprehensive that this will work to the disadvantage of farmers by making them more and more dependent on monopolistic MNCs. A different, though related apprehension is that extensive use of hybrids and genetically engineered new varieties might increase the vulnerability of agriculture to outbreaks of pests and diseases. The larger, longer-term consequences of reduced biodiversity that may follow from the use of specially bred varieties are also another cause for concern. Moreover, corporations, driven by the profit motive, will necessarily tend to underplay, if not ignore, potential adverse consequences, especially those which are unknown and which may manifest themselves only over a relatively long period. On the other hand, high-pressure advertising and aggressive sales campaigns by private companies can seduce farmers into accepting varieties without being aware of potential adverse effects and the possibility of disastrous consequences for their livelihood if these varieties happen to fail. There is no provision under the laws, as they now exist, for compensating users against such eventualities.
Excessive preoccupation with seeds and seed material has obscured other important issues involved in reviewing the research policy. We need to remind ourselves that improved varieties by themselves are not sufficient for sustained growth of yields. in our own experience, some of the early high yielding varieties (HYVs) of rice and wheat were found susceptible to widespread pest attacks; and some had problems of grain quality. Further research was necessary to solve these problems. This largely successful research was almost entirely done in public research institutions. Of course, it could in principle have been done by private companies, but whether they choose to do so depends crucially on the extent of the loss in market for their original introductions on account of the above factors and whether the companies are financially strong enough to absorb the ‘losses’, invest in research to correct the deficiencies and recover the lost market. Public research, which is not driven by profit, is better placed to take corrective action. Research for improving common pool resource management, maintaining ecological health and ensuring sustainability is both critical and also demanding in terms of technological challenge and resource requirements. As such research is crucial to the impact of new varieties, chemicals and equipment in the farmer’s field, private companies should be interested in such research. But their primary interest is in the sale of seed materials, chemicals, equipment and other inputs produced by them. Knowledge and techniques for resource management are not ‘marketable’ in the same way as those inputs. Their application to land, water and forests has a long gestation and their efficacy depends on resolving difficult problems such as designing institutions for proper and equitable management of common pool resources. Public or quasi-public research institutions informed by broader, long-term concerns can only do such work.
The public sector must therefore continue to play a major role in the national research system. It is both wrong and misleading to pose the problem in terms of public sector versus private sector or of privatisation of research. We need to address problems likely to arise on account of the public-private sector complementarity, and ensure that the public research system performs efficiently. Complementarity between various elements of research raises several issues in implementing an IPR regime. Private companies do not produce new varieties and inputs entirely as a result of their own research. Almost all technological improvement is based on knowledge and experience accumulated from the past, and the results of basic and applied research in public and quasi-public institutions (universities, research organisations). Moreover, as is increasingly recognised, accumulated stock of knowledge does not reside only in the scientific community and its academic publications, but is also widely diffused in traditions and folk knowledge of local communities all over.
The deciphering of the structure and functioning of DNA forms the basis of much of modern biotechnology. But this fundamental breakthrough is a ‘public good’ freely accessible in the public domain and usable free of any charge. Various techniques developed using that knowledge can however be, and are, patented for private profit. Similarly, private corporations draw extensively, and without any charge, on germplasm available in varieties of plants species (neem and turmeric are by now famous examples). Publicly funded gene banks as well as new varieties bred by public sector research stations can also be used freely by private enterprises for developing their own varieties and seek patent protection for them. Should private breeders be allowed free use of basic scientific discoveries? Should the repositories of traditional knowledge and germplasm be collected which are maintained and improved by publicly funded organisations? Or should users be made to pay for such use? If they are to pay, what should be the basis of compensation? Should the compensation be for individuals or (or communities/institutions to which they belong? Should individual institutions be given the right of patenting their innovations? These are some of the important issues that deserve more attention than they now get and need serious detailed study to evolve reasonably satisfactory, fair and workable solutions. Finally, the tendency to equate the public sector with the government is wrong. The public space is much wider than government departments and includes co- operatives, universities, public trusts and a variety of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Giving greater autonomy to research organisations from government control and giving non- government public institutions the space and resources to play a larger, more effective role in research, is therefore an issue of direct relevance in restructuring the public research system.Which one of the following statements describes an important issue, or important issues, not being raised in the context of the current debate on IPRs?|
Governments looking for easy popularity have frequently been tempted into announcing giveaways of all sorts; free electricity, virtually free water, subsidized food, cloth at half price, and so on. The subsidy culture has gone to extremes. The richest farmers in the country get subsidized fertilizers. University education, typically accessed by the wealthier sections, is charged at a fraction of cost. Postal services are subsidized, and so are railway services. Bus fares cannot be raised to economical levels because there will be violent protest, so bus travel is subsidized too. In the past, price control on a variety of items, from steel to cement, meant that industrial consumer of these items got them at less than actual cost, while the losses of the public sector companies that produced them were borne by the taxpayer! A study done a few years ago, came to the conclusion that subsidies in the Indian economy total as much as 14.5 per cent of gross domestic product. At today's level, that would work out to about 1,50,000 crore. And who pay the bill? The theoryand the Political fiction on the basis of I which it is sold to unsuspecting votersis that subsidies go the poor. and are paid for by the rich. The fact is that most subsidies go the 'rich' (defined in the Indian context as those who are above the poverty line), and much of the tab goes indirectly to the poor. Because the hefty subsidy bill results in fiscal deficits, which in turn push up rates of inflationwhich, as everyone knows, hits the poor the hardest of all. That is why taxmen call inflation the most regressive form of taxation. The entire subsidy system is built on the thesis that people cannot help themselves, therefore governments must do so. That people cannot afford to pay for variety of goods and services, and therefore the government must step in. This thesis has been applied not just in the poor countries but in the rich ones as well; hence the birth of the welfare state in the west, and an almost Utopian social security system; free medical care, food aid, old age security, et.al. But with the passage of time, most of the wealthy nations have discovered that their economies cannot sustain this social safety net, which in fact reduces the desire among people to pay their own way, and takes away some of the incentive to work, in short, the bill was unaffordable, and their societies were simply not willing to pay. To the regret of many, but because of the laws of economies are harsh, most Western societies have been busy pruning the welfare bill. In India, the lessons of this experience over several decades, and in many countriesdo not seem to have been learnt. Or they are simply ignored in the pursuit of immediate votes. People who are promised cheap food or clothing do not in most cases look beyond the gift horsesto the question of who picks up the tab. The uproar over higher petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices ignored this basic question; if the user of cooking gas does not want to pay for its cost, who should pay? Diesel in the country is subsidised, and if the user of cooking gas does not want to pay for its full cost, who does he or she think should pay the balance of the cost? It is a simple question, nevertheless if remains unasked. The Deva Gowda government has shown some courage in biting the bullet when it comes to the price of petroleum products. But it has been bitten by much bigger subsidy bug. It wants to offer food at half its cost to everyone below the poverty line, supposedly estimated at some 380 million people. What will be the cost? And of course, who will pick up the tab? The Andhra Pradesh Government has been bankrupted by selling rice as 2 per kg. Should the Central Government be bankrupted too, before facing up to the question of what is affordable and what is not? Already, India is perennially short of power because the subsidy on electricity has bankrupted most electricity boards, and made private investment wary unless it gets all manner of state guarantees. Delhi's subsidised bus fares have bankrupted the Delhi Transport Corporation, whose buses have slowly disappeared from the capital's streets. It is easy to be soft and sentimental, by looking at programmes that will be popular. After all, who does not like a free lunch? But the evidence is surely mounting that the lunch isn't free at all. Somebody is paying the bill. And if you want to know who, take at the country's poor economic performance over the years.
Which of the following should not be subsidised over the years ?|