|A jackpot for all|
Sikkim, the erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom, is well known in Tamil Nadu for its lotteries. Seventy to eighty percent lottery tickets of that State are sold in Tamil Nadu. The Government of Sikkim earns a revenue of Rs.17 to 18 crores per year through the lottery. In a way Tamil Nadu plays an important role in making Sikkim successful in its efforts to earn a good amount of revenue by the sale of lottery tickets.
While on election duty, as a General Observer, I was posted to Sikkim. Here I ran into my batchmate Tashi Topden, I.A.S. after twenty seven years. Tashi Topden is the Finance Secretary of Sikkim. While chatting with him I gathered many reasons for the success of Sikkim lotteries such as:
1. Distribution of prizes is very fair and transparent. The draws are conducted everyday. There are four to five draws daily. These are conducted by the judges consisting mainly of the retired senior officers, who are known for their integrity.
2. Another cause for the success is no Income Tax levied on the prizes and the winner gets the full prize.
3. The lottery in Sikkim is run as a business enterprise and the bulk of the work is done in the private sector. The government exercises only the minimum control over lotteries. This control is exercised only:
4. The distributors are selected for the distribution of the tickets through open tender system. Once the distributor is selected, the government and the distributors are like friends. After that no misunderstanding is allowed since the interest of one is the interest of the other.
5. The entire publicity and promotion of the lottery is in the hands of the private individuals. It does not happen on the bureaucratic lines and is quick and appropriate.
6. Another reason for the success of the Sikkim lotteries is that its prizes are very attractive and the process of handing over the prizes has been decentralized.
7. The local distributors at Tamil Nadu hand over the small prizes promptly to the winners as soon as the draw is over.
8. The bigger prizes are also given within 20 days of the draw after verifying the tickets, etc.
9. Printing of tickets is also decentralized for the convenience of the distributors. Currently the tickets are printed in Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
As against this, the lotteries in Tamil Nadu are under the overall control of the government. It has to go through a bureaucratic process for all decision making. The printing of tickets, publicity, draws, everything is concentrated in the hands of the government and suffers from the inevitable red tape. For a small place like Sikkim with not many resources for the welfare of the people, lottery plays a vital role to supplement the revenue of the State. The average people of Tamil Nadu should be happy to know that they actually contribute to the welfare of the people of the erstwhile Himalayan kingdom.
It may be interesting to know that the concept of lottery for funding the welfare schemes has been in vogue for a very long time in England. However, lottery revenue is never taken into general revenue but used only for outstanding individuals, social and cultural projects of NGOs. Any NGO can apply and compete for funding. Many good projects on conservation, preservation, art galleries, museum, welfare of women, children, sick and old have been funded through the lotteries. This gives high visibility and transparency to the use of funds. It also encourages people to buy the lottery tickets as a means of funding those social and cultural projects which may otherwise starve for funds.