by Anya Daftary and Aahana Khemani
India is a large country, with a large population, of over 1 billion people! In order for the government to use their wealth wisely for all the people, the government has to divide the country’s wealth each year to ensure that the wealth is being used most efficiently for the country.
The union budget is a statement released annually by the Indian Finance Minister describing the allocation of funds for that fiscal year as well as the rates and taxes on different things. Usually, it’s a paper document, it’s secrecy is highly valued and individuals working on this are not permitted to leave the building for a while. This is because this document contains the rates and taxes on various materials such as gold and silver and industries and factories can alter prices to compensate for the tax added or deducted. Not only has the COVID-19 Pandemic changed all of our lives, it has led to this coveted document being published and documented digitally for the first time in 73 annual budget presentations! This is a sign of just how the role of technology has been intertwined with our lives!
India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the Union Budget 2021 in the parliament. A couple of highlights of the budget were on the points of expenditure, receipts, GDP growth, and Ministry allocations. On expenditure, the government proposes to spend ₹30,42,230 crore in 2020-21, a raise of 12.7% than the revised estimate of 2019-2020. As for receipts, apart from net borrowings, receipts are estimated to increase by an astonishing 16.3% to Rs. 22,45,893 crore. Coming over to the GDP, the government has assumed a 10% growth rate. Last but not least, under Ministry allocations, amongst the top thirteen ministries that have the highest allocations, the highest percentage increase is of the Ministry of Communications (129%), subsequent by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (30%) which was followed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (20%).
The budget this year certainly has interesting new initiatives. One of these include the “Deep Ocean Mission.” With a budget outlay of more than 4,000 crores over five years, the mission will aim towards covering deep ocean survey exploration and projects to help conserve deep sea biodiversity. Another intriguing initiative is the “National Language Translation Mission (NTLM).” This enables the governance-and-policy related knowledge on the Internet being made available in significantly major Indian Languages. Last but not least, the government proposes to provide 1,000 crores for the welfare of tea workers (more specifically to women and their children) in Assam as well as in West Bengal. A special scheme will be devised for the same. This seems to be a quite open-minded and interesting scheme as tea workers in rural areas of India, are not always paid fairly!
The budget while touching on key points such as healthcare, education and defense, as per usual, received criticism and compliments. Some compliments came from many business owners, small and big and they were vocal about their support of the budget such as; Eela Dubey, the founder of EduFund, a college planning service for Indian students said,
“What matters for a middle-class person saving today is clarity in personal taxation, stable investment regime and risk-adjusted financial assets available. Today we have a confluence of all the 3 in India. If you are a person wanting to embark on your financial journey today is an ideal time. The best time to invest was yesterday, the second-best time to invest is today.”
Whilst, Rahul Gandhi, MP and leader of the opposing party, Congress was vocal about his criticism toward the bill. On February 1st, he tweeted “Forget putting cash in the hands of people, Modi Govt plans to handover India’s assets to his crony capitalist friends.” Amongst other tweets.
In conclusion, this year’s budget certainly has it’s benefits, and on a deeper level analysis, it’s cons too. This year’s budget touches on the topics of expenditure, receipts, GDP growth, Ministry allocations, and also makes way for new initiatives! Everybody is entitled to their own opinion on the budget, and therefore, there is both criticism and compliments, like for multiple different aspects of life.