Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has presented one of the longest budgets which aims to create inclusive growth opportunities for the majority of Indians. The budget makers have given much importance to growth, creation of jobs, poverty alleviation, prevent migration through skill development, technology and various developmental programs.
Income tax rationalisation is a welcome step. Nil income tax up to Rs 5 lakh, 10% on income from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7.50 lakh, 15% from Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, 20% from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 12.5 lakh, 25% from Rs 12.5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh and 30% from Rs 15 lakh and above will give the much-needed surplus to the majority of people for buying products. People need surplus money to spend in the market after meeting their basic needs. They need to save money in order to tide over a hard time. Surplus money boosts the market economy and people’s savings give resilience to economic growth and helps banks do business. Banks have to increase insurance on deposit from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh will assure people of their hard-earned deposit. People can save less and spend more if good governance reduces the cost of housing, ensure quality education and health care facility at an affordable cost. The country needs thousands of doctors with human warmth and zeal to serve people. The Union government is out to achieve this through moral education based on Bharatiya culture and values.
The Finance Minister reminisces how a former Prime Minister had once voiced concern that the fruits of the welfare schemes were not reaching the intended citizens – the common and deserving citizen was only receiving 15 paise off every rupee spent on him. This was one of the main reasons for poverty and hunger among people. The majority of the people who were affected in the last many decades due to the decade long loot and scoot episode were from the Hindu community. The finance minister has quoted the union government’s welfare schemes with Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), sanitation, water as provision of basic needs, measure of preventive healthcare, Ayushman Bharat, clean energy through Ujjwala and solar power, financial inclusion, credit support, insurance protection to vulnerable sections, digital penetration with broadband and UPI and affordable Housing for all through PMAY which will have a positive impact on poverty amid strict monitoring mechanism. Sangh Parivar's millions of volunteers will ensure monitoring of the development schemes in their respective districts. “Ours shall be a Caring Society that is both humane and compassionate. Antyodaya is an article of faith,” said Nirmala Sitharaman. Proper execution and dedicated monitoring will benefit millions of poor and innocent tribes across the country.
The Union Government has set a massive agriculture credit target of Rs 15 lakh crore to double the farmers’ income by 2022. The SHG run village storage scheme, Kissan Rail to transport the village products, Krishi Uddan for the tribal of North East India, one product one district, integrated farming system in rain-fed areas, blue economy to boost marine fishery and Sagar Mitra Yojana for fish producers organizations are some of the unique wealth creation programmes which will contribute to farmers’ income. “We hope to raise fishery exports to ` 1 lakh crore by 2024-25,” said the Finance Minister.
The zero budget natural farming proposed in the budget will no doubt revolutionise agriculture production and productivity at a far lower cost. The biggest hindrance before the doubling of farmers’ income is the rising input cost. The zero budget natural farming will reduce the input cost and make farming favorite professions for rural youth. Besides, the Natural farming will restore the soil quality and make agriculture sustainable. Earning Rs 10000 pm in the village home is far better option than rotting in an urban slum for Rs 20,000 pm.
Under Aspirational India programme, education and skill will get added focus. The Union Government will introduce new educational policy keeping in view of the country’s culture, family value and spiritual background. The education will motivate youth to live in India and build a physically, morally and economically strong nation which will live in pride among the world community. The much needed India specific education will instill discipline, courage, self-confidence and a sense of belongingness among the youth for the country. Indian youth will get the courage to even oppose their corrupt parents, spouse and relatives so that the moral fabric will be restored for a strong India. The budget aims to enhance the entrepreneurship skill which will dismantle the age-old idle energy in rural India.
The Finance Minister felt that our education system needs greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, innovation and for better labs. Therefore steps would be taken to enable sourcing External Commercial Borrowings and FDI so as to able to deliver higher quality education. This is a very laudable step which will undoubtedly strengthen the root of education for building efficient citizens. “Students in the general stream (vis-à-vis services or technology stream) need their employability improved,” said the Finance Minister, “about 150 higher educational institutions will start apprenticeship embedded degree and diploma courses by March 2021.” The Union Budget will create the right climate for health care, education, skill development, agriculture, industry, horticulture, fishery, infrastructure, FDI flow and above all good governance.
(The writer is a Hyderabad-based columnist)