The budget presentation evinces keen interest among all sections of the society ever since the Narasimha Rao government set off economic reforms in 1991.
‘Midnight’s grandchildren’ have grown up in an environment quite alien to that of their forefathers. We can’t imagine a world without Windows, or Reebok shoes.
The economy has become globalised, throwing open an array of opportunities and challenges. Unfortunately, this does not hold true for the whole Indian populace. The benefits of economic reforms, though reflected in rising aggregate growth figures, have not percolated down.
Regional inequalities have only widened. This is not to say that reforms were bad. They needed to be supplemented with policies that would ensure distributional equity. The current macroeconomic picture is coloured with strong growth fundamentals despite concerns of inflation and fiscal profligacy.
The high non-tax revenues from the 3G auction have given a big boost to the economy. This has both brought down the fiscal deficit and permitted greater social sector spending, which is 36.4% of plan outlay.
By identifying non-performing schemes and not funding them, India can achieve better growth targets.
The budget’s focus on skill development and enhancing employability of the youth was truly commendable as 70% of the population will be of working age by 2025. The increased funding of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the implementation of the Right to Education Act will help create a skilled and empowered workforce.
The budget has also provided relief provisions such as a raised income-tax exemption bar, benefits for senior citizens, indexation of MGNREGS wages, doubled wage of anganwadi workers.
(Ritwika Sen is a 2nd year student, St. Stephen's College, Delhi)