Money is not a cut and dry matter in India. It is seen beyond its transactional aspect, as symbolic of many things. Not surprisingly, then, the budget is not just seen as the fiscal policy but also as manifesting of intent. The time to signal towards the grand design with aspects that might not have immediate impact but sow the seeds of a brighter path ahead and also a reflection that the government is looking into specific needs as well.
Some lines written by Kedarnath Singh come to mind: "Maine ek bacche se poocha, Himalaya kidhar hai, usne apni patang ki orr ishara kiya. Sach kahoon maine pehli baar jana Himalaya kidhar hai(I asked a child where the Himalaya is; he pointed towards his kite, I learnt for the first time where the Himalaya is)." Each section of our society has their own Himalaya to climb and those charting the course of economic- social progress need to be cognisant of this.
India has around 600 million people younger than 25. But then 'youth' seems to be clubbed as one shiny block. In reality, there’s a stark contrast that exists. Which youth is the future? The small percentage of which is empowered? For, the other, has very limited or no access to information, higher education and basic skill training. We cannot see them as this power en bloc that will propel India unless a majority if not all are brought to the level wherein they can survive, flourish and then contribute.
This is the age of ideas and innovation. The fear of just corporate-led development has to be assuaged and wind provided for tinier wings to soar — not just in the metros but the smaller states — be it Manipur or Uttarakhand. Mr Arun Jaitley is a sharp mind with a compassionate outlook. Rather than a dream budget, a real budget has been presented — one that is geared to convert the headwinds into tailwinds.
(The author is a writer, poet and lyricist. Views expressed are personal)