‘Revdi’ or genuine welfare? India gives its verdict

 Over 58% of the 12,544 respondents said giving free gas cylinders, laptops, phones, scooters, and the like could hurt the country’s finances and 52% said they were unnecessary freebies. (HT)
Over 58% of the 12,544 respondents said giving free gas cylinders, laptops, phones, scooters, and the like could hurt the country’s finances and 52% said they were unnecessary freebies. (HT)

Summary

  • A majority of urban Indians, across party lines, see free goods and services given to the poor as unnecessary freebies and detrimental to government finances, the latest YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey showed.

Most urban Indians, across party lines, hold a negative view about free goods and services given by state and national governments for uplifting the poor, the latest round of the YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey showed. Over 58% of the 12,544 respondents said giving free gas cylinders, laptops, phones, scooters, and the like could hurt the country’s finances and 52% said they were “unnecessary freebies".

Older, richer, and north Indian respondents were more likely to criticize free public goods and services. Those living in southern states, those born after 1996, and those who were unemployed or had low incomes were more tolerant, with fewer than half of them calling these policies “unnecessary freebies". The gender divide was sharp. Around 63% of men, but 53% of women felt such welfare spending could hurt government finances. Similarly, 57% of men, but 46% of women called it unnecessary freebies.

That said, all demographic groups were overwhelmingly certain that free goods and services were a vote-seeking ploy. Overall, 76% respondents, across party lines, felt political parties make such promises mainly with an eye on the ballot.

The survey was held online with respondents across over 200 cities and towns in December 2023, seeking to get a pulse of the nation on various election-related themes. Around 84% of the respondents were millennials or younger (44% born after 1996, and 40% between 1981 and 1996). Now in its 11th round, the biannual survey is conducted by Mint in association with survey partner YouGov India and Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR).

Votes or welfare?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have earlier made the alleged ‘revdi culture’ (or ‘freebie culture’) a poll issue to target opponents. In line with that narrative, supporters of the BJP were the most likely to dismiss free welfare measures. However, those who aligned with the Congress and state-level regional parties were not too far behind in their criticism either. Around 59% of BJP supporters and 47% of Congress supporters said these were unnecessary freebies, and 66% and 52%, respectively, said these could hurt government finances.

The survey also asked each respondent for their opinions on subsidy schemes initiated by the governments of the BJP, Congress, and the major parties of their respective states. Here, too, a large share equated subsidies with votes. The trust in subsidy policies was the highest for BJP-led and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led governments, with 29% and 26% respondents, respectively, saying their policies were mostly designed carefully to reach the poorest. The Congress’ subsidy schemes inspired trust in just 19% of the respondents.

Polarized on welfare

On the flip side, the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) was the least trusted party, with 44% saying its subsidy measures were mostly aimed at votes. For the BJP and Congress, the share was close to 38%. (Note that for AAP and AITC, only respondents in states ruled by them were asked for their views on their policies.) Some parties also found the middle ground. Over 35% respondents in Maharashtra said Shiv Sena’s policies were mostly well-intentioned but could be implemented better.

As is evident, BJP supporters were highly supportive of subsidy policies launched by BJP governments, and distrusting of the Congress. The vice-versa was true for Congress supporters as well. With poverty alleviation being a key goal for India, the question of what is a freebie and what is genuine welfare is here to stay.

This is the fourth part of a series about the findings of the 11th round of the survey. Note that these surveys are skewed towards urban well-to-do netizens, with 89% respondents falling under the “NCCS-A" socioeconomic category of consumers. Full methodology note here.

Part 1: Support for BJP reaches fever pitch; INDIA alliance has few takers: Survey

Part 2: The political hot potatoes on which urban India disagrees with the BJP

Part 3: The news sources that Indians will trust and distrust this poll season

Part 5: Indian politics is becoming increasingly partisan. We have the data to prove it.

Part 6: Shades of pessimism ahead of a heated election season

Also read: Marking five years of the millennial survey

Catch all the Politics News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
more

topics

MINT SPECIALS

Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App