Saturday, February 20, 2016

Farcical concessions

Tamilnadu State Government has extended to senior citizens the benefit of free travel in state government buses in Chennai. Is this move desirable or not?

Concessions and subsidies can be either merited or unmerited. A merited subsidy is one which creates more equality whereas an unmerited concession aggravates inequality. Enabling a rich person to travel free only makes the person richer.

Do senior citizens want free travel or the assurance of a seat in a crowded bus? Most senior citizens would prefer the latter benefit. There are old people who are ready to pay, say,  twice the normal fare for getting the benefit of a seat. This is not to deny that there are poor senior citizens too. The newly extended concessions should be made applicable to them and not to all senior citizens across the board. Provision of only two seats for senior citizens and physically challenged and, on top of it, not ensuring its compliance is only a mockery.

The same logic extends to concessional application fees that apply to persons belonging to certain castes in the case of some examinations or job applications. If the applicants are indigent, such concessions are merited. Otherwise, the government is only encouraging schisms in society, albeit unintentionally.

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