Sops for the farmer, some incentives to save for the aam aadmi and a few positives for the entrepreneur, particularly those from the small and medium-size segments.
What is commendable is the minister's ability to steer clear of the trade-off between growth and equity while addressing the most critical economic challenges India is facing.
After the GDP shocker of 4.5% for the third quarter, the challenge to get the growth rate up between 6.1% and 6.7% looks like a uphill task. The fine print of the budget suggests that receipts will come — Rs. 40,000 crore from telecom spectrum sales, which looks aggressive, Rs. 58,800 crore from disinvestment and Rs. 18,000 crore from direct and indirect taxes.
The balance, Rs. 1 lakh crore, will come from increase in tax revenue due to higher growth, which in effect means about 19-20% growth in tax revenues, suggesting that the economic growth assumption is about 6.5-7%, which looks rather difficult. Without growth at a 6.5% level achieving the fiscal deficit target of 4.8% is a challenge.
In the process of balancing such diverse needs, the finance minister has not lost the plot.