Subsidy in India

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Mayank Goel, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur


A subsidy is a converse of tax, government in order to absorb load of inflation or high cost from the people who are not in position to pay are beneficiary to these schemes.

Like indirect taxes, they can alter relative prices and budget constraints and thereby affect decisions concerning production, consumption and allocation of resources. Subsidies in areas such as education, health and environment at times merit justification on grounds that their benefits are spread well beyond the immediate recipients, and are shared by the population at large, present and future. For many other subsidies, however the case is not so clear-cut. Arising due to extensive governmental participation in a variety of economic activities, there are many subsidies that shelter inefficiencies or are of doubtful distributional credentials. Subsidies that are ineffective or distortion need to be weaned out, for an undiscerning, uncontrolled and opaque growth of subsidies can be deleterious for a country’s public finances.

In India, as also elsewhere, subsidies now account for a significant part of government’s expenditures although, like that of an iceberg, only their tip may be visible. These implicit subsidies not only cause a considerable draft on the already strained fiscal resources, but may also fail on the anvil of equity and efficiency as has already been pointed out above.

In the context of their economic effects, subsidies have been subjected to an intense debate in India in recent years. Issues like the distortion effects of agricultural subsidies on the cropping pattern, their impact on inter-regional disparities in development, the sub-optimal use of scarce inputs like water and power induced by subsidies, and whether subsidies lead to systemic inefficiencies have been examined at length. Inadequate targeting of subsidies has especially been picked up for discussion.



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