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A right balance between growth and populism

business Updated: Feb 28, 2011 23:54 IST
Azim Premji
Azim Premji
Hindustan Times
budget2011

India is now the fifth biggest economy in the world. We are well on track to achieve double digit growth with contribution from sustained trends in savings and investments, continued momentum in services and efforts towards fiscal consolidation. The finance minister has presented a budget with a right balance between growth and populism.

Food inflation being the key topic of debate and discussions in recent times, the finance minister announced increase in credit target for the agriculture sector by Rs 1 lakh crore to Rs 4.75 lakh crore. Banks are asked to focus on credit lending to small and marginal farmers. This will go a long way in increasing food production.

We need a second green revolution, founded on a massive per acre productivity increase, accompanied by a processing revolution in fruits, vegetables, dairy, poultry, and other perishables. Hence, the setting up of the 'National mission for protein supplements' — with focus on livestock, dairy, fisheries, Rs 300 crore for fodder development programmes and promotion of organic farming methods and waste management is a welcome move.

Education is a true catalyst to bring about real social change and perhaps has the most formative effect on the mind, character and psyche of our nation. The proposal to increase allocation to education by 24% is welcome.

The increase of 40% for SSA would help partially fund the needs arising out of the Right to Education Bill. The increase of 100% in remuneration of Anganwadi workers was a much-needed hike and would benefit many lakh workers. The allocation of an additional Rs 500 crore to the National Skill Development Fund is heart-warming. However the allocation to education is still only around 4% and there is an expectation that the state show more enthusiasm in implementing the bill.

Economic development goes hand in hand with human qualities of honesty and trustworthiness. As Gandhiji said, "To believe something and not live it, is being dishonest". All Indians need to believe in the power of truth and live it daily.