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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014
Eye on LS polls? Chidambaram’s budget refers to 'youth' nine times
Varghese K George, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 01, 2013
First Published: 01:17 IST(1/3/2013)
Last Updated: 11:31 IST(1/3/2013)
P Chidambaram on Total Expenditure

The Union budget announced by finance minister P Chidambaram may not have the overt populism that many observers expected but it does have a keen eye on the 2014 parliamentary elections.

Key constituencies that could prove to be decisive for the Congress-led coalition in the forthcoming elections have been sharply in focus while drawing up the proposals inherent in the budget. That the run-up to those elections has begun is also quite evident in what could be seen as a political retort in the finance minister’s speech, particularly to the Narendra Modi model of development in Gujarat.

“We have examples of states growing at a fast rate, but leaving behind women, the scheduled castes, the scheduled tribes, the minorities, and some backward classes. 

"The UPA does not accept that model,” Chidambaram said, setting off what could be Congress’ pitch for a hectic year of polls leading up to the 2014 general elections.

Terms like “sustainable” and “inclusive” growth were sprinkled generously.

“The overarching goal,” finance minister P Chidambaram said of his eighth budget, is to “create opportunities for our youth to acquire education and skills that will get them decent jobs or self-employment”.

Chidambaram took the cue from Sonia Gandhi, who had at the recent conclave of the Congress in Jaipur identified job creation as the biggest challenge.

Estimating that around 10 million new job seekers entered the market every year, she had said: “It is lack of employment that thwarts aspirations and fuels frustration, crime and violence.”

The Jaipur Conclave of the Congress had also emphasised the need for the party to address the middle class and the urban population.

The youth and the new middle class are largely overlapping categories, as most of those at the threshold of entering the urban life in search of new opportunities are likely to be young too.

Chidambaram’s budget attends to the middle classes, but not the affluent among them. He is mainly looking at the those who own mobile phones that cost less than Rs. 2,000.

While he increased the taxes on higher-end mobile phones and made eating out in a city restaurant costlier, he made buying a modest house in a city easier, gave a small relief in income tax to those who earn below Rs. 5 lakh annually, offered incentives to first-time investors entering the equity market and promised new investment instruments that would be inflation proof.

“We are talking about the ex-poor who have just managed to get out of poverty but are still very vulnerable,” said a key Congress strategist who estimates this number to be in the range of “above 300 million”.

As Chidambaram mentioned, “Any development needs democratic legitimacy and approval.” Until 2009, governments pushing growth were voted out at the Centre and the states. Chidambaram’s budget seeks to expand the successful new social contract that the Congress built during 2004-09.

"It essentially meant redistributing growth through welfare schemes for the poor and the rural. Congress for the first time made reforms politically saleable and won again in 2009 — a model that several chief ministers emulated.

However, during UPA2, the growing impatience — expressed as flash mobs in the street and outpouring on the social media — among the emerging young middle class has been a matter of lingering concern.

That could be the reason why Chidambaram’s budget refers to the “youth” nine times, and emphasises on skilling them on one hand and creating opportunities for them on the other. 

While retaining the focus on the poor, he expanded the catchment area to the emerging new middle class too. What constrains him is the environment — low growth and high inflation — which has hit this class more badly than others.


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Highlights: Budget 2013  »

  • Expect higher revenue next year: Chidambaram
  • Unclear what the expense on food subsidies be at this stage: Chidambaram
  • Fuel subsidy likely to be lower this year: Chidambaram
  • Immediate goal is to achieve growth rate of 6%: Chidambaram
  • We have to be patient and wait for the economy to pick up: Chidambaram
  • We have not put impossible burdens on people: Chidambaram
  • The only way to contain current account deficit is to increase exports: Chidambaram
  • Confident that RBI will do it's part: Chidambaram
  • Economy is challenged in a number of ways: Chidambaram
  • This is a lollypop election budget: CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta
  • Budget has ignored SC/ST: Mayawati
  • Budget will only benefit industrialists, not common man: Mayawati
  • Budget will give impetus to Bihar's demand for special status: Nitish Kumar
  • FM has taken important steps to reverse pessimistic mood with regard to our economy: PM
  • There is need to convert challenges into opportunities: PM
  • The Finance Minister has done a commendable job: PM
  • Direct Benefit Transfer scheme to be rolled out
  • Ships and vessels exempted from excise duty
  • Direct tax code to be introduced in budget session of the Parliament
  • Set-top box import duty hiked
  • Gold duty limit raised to Rs. 50,000 for men; Rs. 1 lakh for women
  • 100% customs duty on luxury cars
  • Increase in import duty on high end bikes from 75% to 100%
  • 6% duty on mobile phones worth more than Rs. 2000
  • Excise duty on cigarette, cigar and cheeroot increased by 18%
  • Import duty on raw silk hiked to 15%
  • Luxury imported items to cost more
  • Donations to National Children's fund will be eligible for 100% tax deduction
  • No plans to revise direct taxes
  • No change in customs and excise duty
  • Tax credit of Rs. 2000 for those with income upto Rs. 5 lakh
  • Education cess at 3%
  • donations to be tax free
  • Surcharge of 10% on individuals, companies whose income is above Rs. 1 crore per year
  • No revision in tax slabs
  • Planned expenditure to be 33% of total expenditure
  • Rs. 1,000 crore allocated to women safety fund
  • Defence budget allocation increased to Rs. 2 lakh crore
  • Insurance and pension funds can now directly invest in debt funds
  • Domestic workers, Anganwadi workers, others to get group insurance
  • 13 public sector banks to get Rs. 14,000 crore
  • Propose to provide Rs. 14,000 cr for capital infusion in public sector banks
  • Inflation indexed bonds and NSCs to be introduced
  • JNNURM is being continued in the 12th Plan; Rs. 14,873 cr to be provided to the Mission
  • Rs. 33,000 crore to be allocated to MNREGA
  • Rs. 6000 crore for rural housing fund, Rs. 2000 cr for urban housing fund
  • Two new ports to be built in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh
  • All towns having population of 10,000 to get LIC office
  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna to be extended to rickshaw pullers and rag pickers
  • List of eligible securities will be enlarged: Chidambaram
  • SEBI to simplify procedures for entry of foreign portfolio investors in India: Chidambaram
  • India's first all-women public sector bank to be set up
  • All public sector bank branches to have ATMs
  • Focus on modernisation of powerloom sector
  • Propose to continue with the technology upgradation, funds scheme for textile sector: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 1650 cr allocated for AIIMS like institutes
  • Natural gas pricing policy will be reviewed: Chidambaram
  • Person taking home loan for the first time to get tax cut of Rs. 1 lakh
  • Regulatory authority to be set up for road sector
  • Rs. 17,700 crore to be allocated for Integrated Child Development Scheme
  • Rs. 5000 cr allocated to NABARD
  • Income level of Rajiv Gandhi equity schemes increased by Rs. 2 lakh
  • Rs. 80, 194 crore allocated for rural development: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 25,000 cr to be raised through tax free bonds: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 10,000 crore for food security bill promised by UPA: Chidambaram
  • Infrastructure debt fund to be encouraged: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 37,330 cr allocated to ministry of health and family welfare: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 41,000 allocated for scheduled caste welfare: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 27,49 cr to be allocated to the agriculture ministry: Chidambaram
  • Plan expenditure in 12th Five Year Plan revised to Rs. 14,30,825 cr or 96% of budgeted expenditure
  • Scholarships for students from SC/ST, minority communities: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 110 cr to be allocated to department of disability: Chidambaram
  • Increased allocation for safe drinking water and sanitation: Chidambaram
  • Increased allocation for mid-day meal schemes: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 65,000 cr allocation for education schemes: Chidambaram
  • Rs. 110 cr to be allocated to department of disability: Chidambaram
  • Need $ 75 billion to bridge current account deficit: Chidambaram
  • 2013-14 budget has sub-plans for SC, ST, youth and women: Chidambaram
  • Foreign investment imperative for growth: Chidambaram
  • Our economy has slowed down after 2010: Chidambaram
  • No choice but to cut spendings to control inflation: Chidambaram
  • China and Indonesia are growing faster than India: Chidambaram
  • Getting back to 8% growth is a challenge for country: Chidambaram
  • Our goal is higher growth: Chidambaram
  • Between 2004-2008 and again in 2009-10, 2010-11 the growth rate was over 8%: Chidambaram
  • P Chidambaram begins budget address in Lok Sabha
  • Cabinet endorses Union Budget 2013-14, to be presented in Parliament shortly.
  • Finance minister P Chidambaram reaches North Block.
  • Chidambaram set to present India's 82nd national budget.
  • Today's Union Budget will be Chidambaram's eighth personal exercise.
  • It's two short of the record of 10 set by former PM Morarji Desai.
  • Since Independence, the country has seen a total of 25 ministers hold the finance portfolio.
  • India has also seen budgets - 65 normal annual budgets, 12 interim budgets and four mini-budgets.
  • Morarji Desai presented eight normal and two interim budgets.
  • Thursday will see Chidambaram equal the eight-budget track record of Pranab Mukherjee.
  • Chidambaram will surpass Yashwant Sinha, YB Chavan and CD Deshmukh who all presented seven budgets each.
  • PM Manmohan Singh and TT Krishnamachari have presented six budgets each.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi have presented one budget each.
  • Sensex closed up more than half a percent a day before the union budget 2013-14
  • It will be the eighth such personal exercise for him
  • Chidambaram set to present India's 82nd national budget in Lok Sabha

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