For those who choose to put on the popular lens, only big announcements of tax relief or allocations matters. But to amuse anyone for the one precise moment, and building momentum with a sense of continuity are two different things. The Modi government seems to have opted for the latter in its approach to the Budget. Many measures it took in the Budget 2020 can be seen in the right perspective, if one takes into consideration how things have shaped up in the past. A few elements from the previous Budget needs to be reminded in this regard to see how things are systematically building up, rather than creating a momentary spark of buzz that goes no way further.
If you revisit July 2019, the government had opened up avenues for doubling farmers’ income by pitching to avail the opportunity in timber and Bamboo products. The previous budget started the effort of forming 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organizations, to ensure economies of scale for farmers over the next five years.
In fact, “Annadata can also be Urjadata” was stated in the Budget of 2019. This year’s budget has picked up the idea, and furthered the process systematically. This budget has opened a big avenue for farmers to earn even from their barren land as the budget has proposed to expand PM-KUSUM to provide 20 lakh farmers for setting up stand-alone solar pumps and helping another 15 lakh farmers solarise their grid-connected pump sets.
Further, opportunities for people along the coastal belt have opened up too, as the chance of finding better paying jobs job in the fish processing sector through Sagar Mitra have emerged.
It was in the Budget of 2019 that an intensive focus on women welfare using Self Help Groups was taken up. The previous budget had emphasized ‘naari tu narayani’ and provided for ₹1 lakh loan under MUDRA scheme for one woman in every SHG. Every woman SHG member having a verified Jan Dhan account was given an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000.
Budget 2020 has taken it further. Introducing the concept of ‘Dhaanya Lakshmi’ it stated that “as a backward linkage, a Village Storage scheme is proposed to be run by the SHGs.”
The previous Budget started with the forward-looking idea by proposing investments in Research and Development. Budget 2019 provided for the establishment of a National Research Foundation to fund, coordinate and promote R&D. Another ₹ 400 crore to be provided for ‘World Class Institutions’ for FY 2019-20. It also focused on skill development of youth for new age skills such as Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Big Data, 3D Printing, Virtual Reality etc.
What we heard in the Budget 2020 is the perfect continuation of the advance made previously.
Degree level full-fledged online education program by Top-100 institutions will help those who want to improve their skills to find greener pastures. Considering the overwhelming number of engineering graduates in the country, 1-year internship for fresh engineers in Urban Local Bodies is the right direction to reap the demographic dividend, as the program tunes them to the necessities of governance. Other measures that will open up a variety of opportunities to the youth are: National Police University and National Forensic Science University, one medical college will be attached to existing district hospital in each district, special bridge courses for teachers, nurses, para-medics and care-givers, 150 higher educational institutions to start apprenticeship embedded courses.
Further, Data Centre Parks across the country and National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications programme for the next five years are expected to open up avenues for youth, shaping India to new age realities.
These are only some of the major examples to exhibit how there is a sense of continuation in Modi government’s financial planning. Even in the flagship schemes like Swachh Bharat, the budget stays true to this sustainable model. After making India Open Defecation Free in five years, the efforts have not ceased. Now India is further securing the ground with ODF Plus initiatives, and Budget 2020 has allocated Rs 12,300 crore for Swachh Bharat Mission. The effort of turning India into a more entrepreneurial nation started five year back and found the resonance in Budget 2019, and this year’s budget and the Economic Survey have batted for renewing the entrepreneurial spirit big time.
Arguably, not just big announcements, but these kinds of sustained and continued efforts will generate the big picture in the days to come.