Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government unveiled the annual budget 2014-2015 which must have left the press and media of the country, especially the likes who live for drama, hugely disappointed. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not believe in pleasing a single sector. As a result not giving any fodder to media houses to have boisterous discussions about what more the government could have done, by giving a budget that almost magically placated everyone.
With statuses such as “is no one free enough to criticize the budget or is there nothing to criticize?” flooding my Facebook page, I sat, perplexed as I thought that maybe it is the first time the word “balanced” has struck a finance minister’s mind or maybe it is the Modi charm or maybe there had not been an opportunity before to present such a budget considering the meager opposition in the parliament at present.
Whatever might be the reason, Budget 2014-2015 covered everything from east to west and north to south. It is an amalgamation of introducing structural reforms for reviving growth and accepting the daunting challenge set by the previous government of capping the fiscal deficit to 4.1%. Hence, producing a promising picture by the Modi task-force.
With the words growth and investment used in the budget speech sounding like a soothing and reassuring balm over tense and unsure investors and public at large, the budget, in the simplest explanation first, made cheap commodities such as soaps, oil, mobile phones, footwear, LCD TV, diamonds and precious stones. It made expensive, much to my joy, cigarettes, tobacco and aerated drinks, along with other commodities such as imported garments, electronic products etc. It is nothing but basic prudence in the want of reducing imports a little and controlling inflation.
Working towards a sustained growth of 7-8 per cent or above within the next 3-4 years along with macro-economic stabilization, the Budget pegged planned expenditure at Rs. 5.75 lakh crores and non planned at Rs. 12.19 lakh crores. For the individual citizen, the tax slab on personal income remains unchanged and income tax exemption limit has been increased. Along with various other provisions introduced, the crux of the matter was encapsulated by the FM when he said that he wanted to get as much money in the hands of the people as possible which seems prudent in the current scenario. We are not complaining at your generosity after receiving slow death at the hands of rising prices of aloo cheeni and what not, Sir.
With allocations for new projects and movements such as 5 new IIMs and IITs, 4 new AIIMS like institutions, Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission, digital India movement, beti bachao, beti padhao yojana and the ambitiously high yet mandatory aim of swachh bharat abhiyan to cover every household with sanitation facility by the year 2019, the budget tried to take care of anything and everything. The reforms and allocations proposed for the railways, agriculture and cities aim to make them better and on par with other modern cities and countries around the world along with proposed reforms in banking and foreign investment to boost growth and control the demon of inflation.
If carried out in an efficient manner, this budget may just be the elixir which breathes life into the country’s financial sector and boosts the progress of the nation. After its presentation in the parliament, the budget drew mixed responses from every sector- be it agriculture or more emphatically from the investors and finance sector, who expected more to be done for them but were not dissatisfied with what was proposed. The only controversy surrounding the otherwise well rounded budget was the allocation of Rs. 200 crore for constructing Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s iron statue in the state of Gujarat which will be known as Statue of Unity and will be the tallest statue in the world, once completed.
There was evidently more furor over this when it was compared to the 150 crore allotted for the safety of women in the larger cities. But we, as a nation need to realize and work upon the fact that the safety of women comes not from allocation of funds to that effect but from a greater social change in the mentality of the country. Yes, the need of the hour demands drastic steps to be taken and for that the budget has provisions but to those who are balking at the allotment of money over the construction of the statue I say that take pride in the fact that we as a nation are making an endeavor to value our heritage, so rarely seen nowadays when supposed culture or sanskriti clashes with the freedom of peoples choices with regards to clothes or choice of life partners.
Yes, the budget is good. Yes, it is well planned and we need to appreciate that rather than criticize and be cynics as usual. However, it does not discount the fact that the government has it’s work cut out and not to mention the gargantuan task of keeping the fiscal deficit at bay. For, granted that acche din aane waale hain but a little prudence never harmed anyone, especially after the debacle in faith the last government was.
As the opening statement in the Key features of Budget 2014-2015 states, “the decisive vote for change represents the desire of the people to grow, free themselves from the curse of poverty and use the opportunity provided by the society. Country is in no mood to suffer unemployment, inadequate basic amenities, lack of infrastructure and apathetic governance.”
Aptly put, since it is high time the government does its job of serving the people of our nation and hoping that the Modi Government delivers what we’ve desperately been waiting for- the Budget 2014 is surely a step ahead in that direction!
About the Author
Sonakshi is a first year law student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She completed her schooling from CJM Convent St. Anthony’s Junior College, Agra, where she was the Head Girl of the student council. Her interests include reading, writing and debating and she enjoys good music, appreciates humour, thrives on sarcasm and generally annoys the hell out of her friends (that last bit is unintentional, well most times anyway). Currently, she is experiencing and surviving through the first year of law school and is extremely excited about the opportunity to share her views on the platform provided by Model Governance Foundation.