TODAY -

Union Budget 2016-17 From policy paralysis to performance orientation
Source: The Sangai Express / Amar Yumnam

Imphal, February 29 2016: I am just completing a quarter of a century on religiously commenting on the Union Budget of India.

This year's budget I would rank as the most path-breaking one.

The 1991 budget of Dr Manmohan Singh was also a path-breaking one, but the beauty of it laid mainly on the economic aspects.

The budget just presented by Arun Jaitley scores more on reflecting the various aspects of governance including economic ones.

The beauty of this year's union budget lies in three things.

First it shows loads of political confidence.

The inflation under control accompanied by robust growth rate with the probability of doubling India's income in less than a decade must be a real morale-booster for the Government.

Second, it shows how to mix politics with Economics.

In the language of the Budget Speech: "Our actions have not been confined to the core or macro-economic areas alone.

Illustratively, action has been taken with regard to allocation of natural resources; financial inclusion; health and hygiene of the common man; girls and their education; employment for the youth; improved and non-adversarial tax administration; effective delivery of benefits; investment and job creation; welfare of labour; agricultural productivity and increasing farm incomes; power; digital connectivity; skilling our youth; efficient and better work culture in Government; ease of doing business; mainstreaming North Eastern States; and, reviving our pride in the nation and culture." Third, it shows how to chart a path of participatory development in a contextualized way "for accelerating growth, enhancing investment and passing on the benefit of the growth process to the common man, woman, youth and child: those, whose quality of life needs to be improved" .

Before the presentation of the Budget the fear was that it might just turn out to be populist as elections are due in some big States.

But it has not been so.

The political confidence has enabled the Government to go inter alia for formation of a Monetary Policy Committee and an inclusive approach with 2022 as the target year.

By the year 2022, every household is being promised a roof, power, water, access to health and education facilities, elimination of rural-urban divide in communication facilities, at least an income earner in every household and an atmosphere for innovativeness.

During the last decade or so, one feature of the Indian economy has been causing concern among the economists.

This is the tapering effect of the Green Revolution benefits in India's farm sector.

The Budget has put in place interventions to bring the farm sector back to the productivity route with technological and credit interventions.

Further, the focus for insuring health, accident and life with minimal premium is absolutely imperative of the time.

The various interventions for uplifting the quality of livelihood of the ST, SC, women, children, poor and minorities would go a long way in altering the face of India in about a decade, and particularly so as they are accompanied by knowledge, technological and credit support mechanisms.

The last few years of UPA II were marked by a disease of policy-paralysis.

But the latest Budget under a different regime credibly shows that the country has come out of that and is on a strong path of Nation-building.

The recent budget shows wonderfully well how the populist approaches can be substituted by performance approaches and within a time-line framework.

It also shows how to carry out reforms in a way the downtrodden peoples' needs are addressed.

Further the technological and knowledge component of Indian society is definitely being aimed at for both widening and deepening implying that India now have a global vision.

In all the interventions being proposed, there are healthy signs of innovativeness accompanied by plugging the leakages in government schemes.

In this the system of transfer of benefits and subsidies directly to the targeted individual/household is being put in place.

Further, the panchayati raj institutions are being incorporated in a big way as partners in development implementation.

Here is a catch here for the STs here in the North East.


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