In September 2012, it was reduced to just six from
a copious, unrestrained flow so far.
Then some months later, some thoughts went into it
'within a reconsideration mode' and the number was increased by three, making
the cut at nine in a year.
Then came the elections in 2014 and the tally was
further upped by another three to make for a comprehensive 'a dozen for a
Now comes January 2016 and another approach is
going to be adopted.
According to a government notification issued
today, now if you are in income bracket above Rs. 10 Lakh (the taxable sum),
you are no longer entitled to avail subsidized LPG cylinders.
We can even lower this income threshold to Rs. 7.5
Lakh or Rs. 6 Lakh (the income threshold for OBCs or the 'Creamy Layer'
threshold - above which OBCs are entitled to get caste based reservation).
Millions in India, its masses, need subsidy and any
policy in India can only succeed when it looks at subsidies as 'social
obligations' and not as 'unavoidable or necessary evils'.
That means we need a rationalized subsidy policy
where the whole emphasis should be on identifying those who really need and those
who unnecessarily avail subsidies.
And we need steps like the one taken today - what
was voluntary till date doesn't remain 'on individual discretion' anymore.
The exchequer had a subsidy payout of around Rs. 41000
crore in 2014-15. The country can do much better if this subsidy burden is
directed at those families in real, dire need.
The government notification also tells the 'give it
up' initiative failed to live up to expectations. India has around 15 crore LPG
connections that itself tells millions of families are still dependent on
traditional, alternative sources of energy. They, simply, cannot afford the
luxury of LPG connection - something that is considered a basic need today. They need subsidy in real terms. Millions of
households with LPG connections need subsidy because they face difficulty in
managing their monthly budgets.
But those families that earn some Rs. 50000 a month
certainly doesn't it.
So, the notification today is a logical move and
will add up significantly to the lot of around 57 lakh families that have so
far 'given up' their subsidies voluntarily.