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Keralas intoxicating lucky bumper scam

There is nobody in Kerala who does not know Anoop, a resident of Srivaraham in Thiruvananthapuram district. Malayalees are going gaga over this young man's 'achievement' calling him "25 crores lucky man" on social media. Anoop won this year's Onam bumper lottery of Rs 25 crore on the ticket he purchased from his cousin's lottery agency shop on the eve of the draw. This turning point in the life of a young man who drives an autorickshaw to make both ends meet in itself is big news. Indeed, another life is going from financial troubles to be well-heeled. Something commendable though. While celebrating his achievement, however one can't shut eyes on the accompanying wrong messages: more people are getting lured to the pitfalls of lottery. Anoop's luck will increasingly spur common men's rush to buy new bumpers. It is said that everyone has the same chance of winning a lottery. No one would hesitate to test their luck shelling out the last coins left in their pockets. That is a common fallacy. That's what the lottery operator, the government, is aiming at: popularise lottery by selling maximum tickets and amass money in the exchequer.

Lotteries have been introduced in states including Kerala as means to mobilise resources. Ignoring the ways to collect resources as specified in the constitution, governments largely rely on the tax revenue from the sale of lottery, alcohol, petrol. Going by the estimates of the last five years, it is clear that at least 35 percent of the total resource has been collected through alcohol and lottery. It can be said that these two 'intoxicants ' keep the Kerala's coffers filled. A counterargument is that no one is forced to consume alcohol and buy the lottery. Lottery is generally regarded as a harmless of the two by the government and its advocates. Lottery is being defended by presenting records of thousands of people being benefited with medical treatment through Karunya lottery. Although it sounds sensible, fundamentally it is only a lame argument for exploitation. It is true thousands make a living by selling lottery tickets; Many people received treatment through Karunya Lottery.

Having said that, one cannot overlook the sinister aspects of lottery. The sources for medical aid should be collected through alternative tax collection. It's not that easy, because the middle and upper classes will have to bear the tax burden. It will turn out to be a test by fire for the governing parties. Lottery allows the government safely to collect as much as tax as it wants. Ramping up lottery sale is one of the plans devised by the government to overcome the financial crisis created by Covid. Alongside, the ticket price of bumper lottery this time has been raised to Rs 500. According to reports, 66.5 lakh tickets have been sold. Tellingly one in four of the adults in Kerala bought a ticket. The government collected at least 80 crore rupees after allowing for the prize money and agent commission. Plus the government will get 12 crores from the prize winners. Usually the middle class and upper class, who enjoy financial security, rarely buy tickets. Most of the time lottery buyers are ordinary people like Anoop.

They buy tickets not from being lured by bumper prize of 25 crores but considering the incentive prizes of 1000 or 10,000 as a big help. The vast majority of these are the poor who are reeling under the post-Covid crisis. Post the results show that except for a few including Anoop most lost money. The government collected with interest the money it spent on food kits worth Rs 400 gifted for Onam. It also makes clear that the purpose of the lottery is not to redistribute money; it's just a system to shove the common people to intoxicating lotteries by pointing out at some lucky millionaires. The government should seriously consider whether it should continue with this system that misleads the society to fortune seeking, disregarding the human value of earning through work. It may be recalled that lotteries have already been banned in many states of India.

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TAGS:lottery scam Anoop-25-crore Onam bumper 
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