The Kerala Government will be providing free Onam kits to about 20 lakh families living below the poverty line during the coming festival season. The total expenditure for this would be Rs. 10 crores. But each family will be getting only Rs. 50 worth of rice and other items. In other words, it could not even amount to a day’s holiday wages.
The imperative of the government in continuing with such scheme in an election year is obvious. However, the government should not be giving alms to the poor. (Let others do it.) It should devise programmes to increase the earning capacities of the poor. The Rs. 10 crore could be better spent for offering, say, scholarships to children of the poor as it did in the case of Muslim girls.
Alms create dependencies and demand will keep on increasing. It is true of even free housing for the poor. The beneficiaries often wait for the government to do the maintenance also. The best example is the One Lakh Housing Scheme. Nearly 50 years after the government gave those free houses to the poor, the government is running lotteries to raise funds for rebuilding the houses.