A budget committed to the principles of Antyodaya

As the budget for the year 2018-19 was presented in the parliament, the roadmap of a strong, vibrant and prosperous India was laid before the nation. The interests of most deprived sections of the society, farmers, women, youth, senior citizens and infrastructure sector along with fiscal prudence and discipline were given priority in the budget. A comprehensive budget aimed at uplifting the poorest of the poor in the society and committed to the principles of Antyodaya, it caters to the aspirations of almost every section of the society. The vision of providing LPG gas connection, electricity and toilet to every home has been adequately addressed by increase in allocations to Ujjwala, Saubhagya and Swachh Mission. At the same time it has addressed different sectors of economy, strengthening them with futuristic vision and goals while envisaging a vibrant rural and urban sector in the country.

The budget is in the line of previous budgets wherein the farmer, poor and rural sector have been prioritized and agriculture sector has remained in its main focus. The decision to offer MSP at 1.5 times the cost of the farming is set to revolutionise the agricultural sector transforming the lives of the farmers while strengthening the base of Indian economy. The vision of ‘New India’ envisaged by the Prime Minister aims at doubling the farmers’ income by 2022 now appears within range with such revolutionizing steps aided by new initiatives in allied agricultural activities including fisheries, animal husbandry, bamboo farming etc. But the biggest announcement came in the form of health cover to around 50 crore people in the country who under the health protection scheme were provided treatment in secondary and tertiary sector with a coverage upto 5 lac rupees. Considered to be the biggest health coverage scheme in the world, it promises to provide health security to 10 crore families in the country. The health sector has remained a priority area for the government having earlier reduced prices of medicines, stents and knee transplantation ensuring dialysis and other health related facilities which were hitherto out of reach for a large section of the society. The decision to open new medical colleges will further strengthen health infrastructure in the country and make health facilities available to common people.

One of the most important aspects of the budget is that it adheres to fiscal prudence with fiscal deficit pegged at 3.5 % and projected at 3.3% for 2018-19. A number of structural reforms measures are slated to take the economy on higher growth trajectory focussing on manufacturing, services and exports. The increase in custom duty will incentivise domestic sectors and help in generating employment opportunities while strengthening ‘Make in India’ initiatives. The budget has also made significant provisions for health, education, employment, SCs, STs, senior citizens, MSMEs, power, railways and infrastructure sector. It has overall given a huge impetus to the economy ensuring its momentum in the days to come.

The budget is guided by the vision the Prime Minister who has ensured that the government remains committed to the welfare of farmers, poor, women, youth and SCs and STs. At the same time it focuses on the principles of ‘reform, perform and transform’ with the mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. It has been rightly called a pro-India budget which refuses to fall prey to hollow populism having an eye on elections, but underlines the vision of a developed, strong and prosperous India. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should be congratulated for taking bold initiative in the national interests and heralding an era of responsible, accountable and transparent political culture in the country. As BJP National President has said that the budget has given new wings to the aspirations of the poor, the budget is a huge step towards, ‘Ease of Living’ for the poor and lower middle and middle class people.

   shivshakti@kamalsandesh.org