Caution: Elite intellectuals adrift #AAPEffect

broom symbol used by the aam aadmi party

A strange side effect of the Aam Aadmi Party winning in Delhi is the sudden confusion among the elites who are reconfiguring their opinions to accommodate the Aam Aadmi phenomenon. Predictably, this is not an easy thing to change beliefs accumulated over a lifetime on a dime, and the propensity of elites to share their thoughts all through has resulted in some amusing perspectives (at least amusing for me).

Here are the highlights:

Aam Aadmi Party has shifted the burden of water subsidies from the poor to the poorest

After not being interested in subsidies by virtue of not profiting from them, the AAP effect has made their utility to the common man fashionable. Somehow, this needs to be reconciled with. If you cannot fault subsidies as a whole, at least fault the ones that are the immediate threat. For someone to get something, someone else got deprived, right? So, assuming politics is self-centered, who pays for the subsidy? The still poorer.

It is unclear how people who do not pay for water end up paying more for it because of the free water. Is the suggestion that people who get free water will now have to pay tax? There is no such announcement and it doesn’t make sense anyway.

If the reasoning is that it is the tax payers who end up paying for such subsidies. But the poorest don’t pay direct taxes anyway. No increases in indirect taxes have come about yet either. So, if the poorest are now burdened with shouldering the cost of the water subsidy, how are they paying, and where?

Regardless, it is rather amusing that some of the people raising this concern were staunchly in support of the state’s extortion racket making it mandatory for 32-rupees-people to buy gas at commercial prices and get compensated into their bank accounts *if* they surrender their biometric information to the government to link their Aadhar card. Apparently the burden of this subsidy was not borne by the poor, who’d have to spend to travel to get Aadhar cards made, tie up some of their money in banks to maintain a balance, raise enough money to be able to afford a gas cylinder and be fine with whatever delay is involved in getting the cash back. Of course if they borrowed that money (for a 32Rs person, the commercial price of one cylinder is more than monthly income). This is the upliftment of the poor. The burden of subsidy falling on the poor happens when they aren’t paying anything for water, but people with meters get free water too.

Here’s another funny one.

More money is spent on Keriwal’s security than if he had taken the regular security detail

To begin with, Kejriwal has not asked for security, so I fail to see how that expense can be attributed to him. Next, the security detail described was from the day Kejriwal and cabinet were sworn in. 1700 police personnel were required to secure the Ramlila ground instead of the 100 that would suffice otherwise.

The writer seems to assume that Keriwal will get sworn in every day of his tenure, or that the swearing in is the only public function Chief Ministers have that needs security. There was a reason the location was Ramlila, and the police job was to secure it. It is easier to secure the Rashtrapati Bhavan than India gate, so we hold the flag hoisting there? Kya logic?

Obviously it is going to be a public nuisance if police persist in securing every place for him. This is an area where Kejriwal needs to review his decision in consultation with the police to accommodate their sense of responsibility for practical security and his need for freedom and connect with the masses. It will take the police a while to recover from seeing the VIP culture as their service to provide as well. In any case, the idea that refusing security is more expensive to the state than overusing it is absurd.

One more.

Slashing the electricity tariffs will put the state into deficit

All of a sudden, the electricity “subsidy” has become an insurmountable expense. The idea that a deficit is when expenditure exceeds income got thrown out of the window by mistake in this hurried revision of perspective forced by the AAP Effect.

So, your government may save on security, accommodation, perks, recover money from corruption, even, but it can never compensate for the profound loss caused by “subsidy” on electricity which had been showed to be overcharged to begin with.

Or perhaps it has not dawned on the elites, that the government does not intend to spend on electricity per se, but to cut the pricing bloat in a manner that serves those with less money the most.

And so on…..

No idea of how the Aam Aadmi Party will turn out to be as a government, but the complete disorientation of cliches, and the resultant confusion of analysis is very entertaining.

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