Budget 2016 can be described as a Budget to accelerate the transformation of India, as the Budget intends to transform the country into a developed and prosperous economy. For the first time, agriculture, rural development and irrigation have been integrated in making policies. This is a professional Budget with technical background unlike previous Budgets. This Budget contains big ideas with the sole objective of inclusive growth of the economy. The essence of the Budget lies in nine priority areas of the government, which are pillars of macro-economic strategy. These are: Agricultural and farmers’ welfare with a focus on doubling farmers’ income in five years; Rural sector with emphasis on rural employment and infrastructure; Social sector including health care to cover all the under-welfare; Education, skills and job creation to make India a knowledge-based and productive society; Infrastructure and investment to enhance efficiency and quality of life; Financial sector reforms to bring transparency and stability; Governance and ease of doing business to enable people to realise their full potential; Fiscal discipline, prudent management of the government finances and delivery of benefits to the needy; Tax reforms to reduce compliance burden with faith in citizenry. These pillars are adequate basis for ensuring that India remains the world’s fastest growing economy. It cannot be gainsaid that keeping the fiscal deficit target at 3.5 per cent of GDP substantiates the government’s true intent to uphold fiscal discipline. Furthermore, with a vital push to infuse revival into the infrastructure sector, the Budget has set aside Rs 2.21 lakh crore, which aims at taking forward economic reforms. Therefore, I should rather compliment Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for presenting a Budget that brought a cheer on the face of the aam aadmi, who had been suffering and tolerating the bogus governments one after another since Independence. It seemed our government in the past had no political will power to take this nation on the pinnacle of glory. When the nation faced a crisis due to the wrong economic policies of the then government, instead of applying some balm to the wounds of the Indian economy, the then FMs, very cleverly, crafted a budget with no substance. Against this backdrop, one was expecting Arun Jaitley to address the growth challenges with structural reforms. And he delivered.
The distinct change in the government’s focus can be attributed to the fact that given the foreign markets are weak the Finance Minister has to rely on domestic demand. Also successive spells of a weak monsoon have made it worse for farmers. In fact, Narendra Modi has been telling since his becoming the PM that he is going to rebuild the agricultural set-up in India and he took a step towards it. Doubling the agricultural income by 2022 is quite a reachable goal, provided that a good climate and also good resources make up for it. Also, a decline in number of farmers every year reduces the number of practitioners and introducing the practitioners to the way agriculture is being practised in developed countries will make this sector a much more profitable one. And here, technology can make a huge difference. Along with giving farmers adequate water, power and resources supply, the government should also focus on getting them access to technological improvements in agriculture and create a board where it helps farmers cultivate in the new way. Only this way agriculture and its income can be improved and all the decisions taken in this Budget are just to sustain agriculture, not to improve it. The provisions of Budget 2016 and the goals of Narendra Modi both culminate at the same point. This is clearly visible from the Budget highlights that his “Make In India” concept is more or less dependent on this Budget, which is more focused on rural and agrarian sector, as it would help farmers and BPL families to improve their life standards. Some measures like cooking gas subsidies, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna, insurance backup for senior citizens and irrigation reforms will overall boost the life of rural India. However, salaried class and individual tax payers have suffered a bit with increment in cess and taxes. In a nutshell, Budget 2016 has something for everyone. Once the infrastructure and rural economy become robust, other sectors will also witness all-inclusive rapid growth in the economy as a whole. Hence, the Finance Minister has done a commendable job in containing the deficit while simultaneously addressing the growth imperatives. If India succeeds in getting to a growth rate of eight per cent, the winner will be the people of India, especially our youth, who need desperately new productive job opportunities.