It is said if problems are not ordinary, then their solution should not be ordinary either. If we use ordinary solutions to tackle tough situations, then such situations can never be sorted out. Sometime ago, India was on the path of becoming a superpower. But the scenario changed in the last three years. The recent Union Budget was a golden opportunity to bring back the country on the path of development but the Government lost this opportunity. The Government presented a Budget which failed to make farmers and the middle class happy. There is nothing in this Budget for the poor and farmers. Besides, this Budget has negative implications for the possibilities of foreign investment.
Chauthi Duniya had published a story a month ago. We had explained how this country has become a puppet and is being used by corporate world. We had published and informed our readers how the UPA Government is helping the corporate world by giving them huge tax exemptions. In this Budget, the corporate world has been given a huge tax exemption of Rs. 5.73 lakh crore rupees which includes corporate tax, excise duty and customs duty. There is nothing new in this move. The UPA Government had been taking such steps continuously. In 2005-06, a tax exemption of Rs 2.29 lakh crore was given for corporate world which kept increasing till it reached the Rs. 5.73 lakh crore figure. The Finance Minister talks about fiscal deficit. The million dollar question : why doesn’t the Government stop such huge tax exemption ? If the Government does so not only would the problem of fiscal deficit end but we will also have surplus money for diesel, petrol and LPG subsidy.
It is a unique case where pro people policies are considered as ‘populist’ and pro rich policies are called reformative. 2014 is the year of the General Elections. People were expecting a populist or a reformative Budget. But this Budget is neither populist nor reformative. It seems this country doesn’t have an economist who can think about the common man. That is why we see great so called economists in TV debates talking only about the corporate world. Just take an example. As soon as it became known that Rs. 7 lakh crore had been allotted to farm credit in this Budget, the media began reacting. No one tried to find the real truth that merely Rs. 50 thousand crore have been earmarked for small and marginal farmers and the remaining Rs. 6.5 lakh crore is for big farmers and owners of agro based industries.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in his speech that he sees only three faces youth, women and the poor. Some people describe it in a very interesting way. They are saying these three faces are Rahul Gandhi as youth, Sonia Gandhi as women and Aam Adami (which is also a slogan of the Congress party) as poor.
It is a very simple Budget for a very challenging time. Only the media and the corporate world are praising this Budget while the truth is different. UPA-2 presented its last Budget in an irresponsible manner. During the Budget speech, the Sensex was slowing down. It recorded a slowdown of 1.64 per cent till evening. The Opposition rejected this Budget and made a joke of it. It was considered as lollypop, dull, anti people and anti poor. The most surprising statement came from Congress leader Manishankar Ayyar. He said it is high time to revise the economic policies which were introduced in 1991. It is simple to understand how weak and directionless are the economic policies of the UPA Government.
The UPA Government lost a historical opportunity by presenting such a Budget. What are the reasons behind it? There should be an analysis of it but before that, we need to understand the background of the Budget. It is a time of economic crisis. Farmers are committing suicide. Inflation is at an all time high. The rate of development and production is declining day by day. Youths are suffering from unemployment. Corruption is rampant. All social and economic schemes of the Government are proving to be unsuccessful. Development of infrastructure and industrial sectors has been badly affected in the last 7 years. There is a decrease in investment. Domestic investors are investing in other countries. On the other hand, foreign investors too are not showing much interest in investing because of the bureaucracy and red tapism. The priority of the Government should be the eradication of such problems but no such steps were taken in this Budget and proved that the Government is not interested in solving problems related to the masses.
There is nothing for farmers in this Budget. However, the Finance Minister discussed the issue of high grain production, subsidy on fertiliser and agriculture in his speech. However, it was nothing more than a political stunt. The other side of this story is that farmers have been leaving agriculture since the last 9 years. The cost of all things related to agriculture increased but the rate of grain did not increase in that ratio. Farmers continue to suffer huge losses. They are facing a lot of problems. Only a very small section of farmers are getting benefit from subsidies. On the issue of loan waivers, the CAG gave a report which elaborates how this scheme has been misused. It means the UPA Government makes populist policies for farmers but has never tried to implement them honestly. If the Finance Minister takes the initiative to devise a responsible system and scheme for farmers it could be used properly in the interest of farmers. But other than allocating money, the Finance Minister did nothing in this direction.
In terms of social development, this Budget has again proved to be a hopeless case. There are more allocations in the social sector but we will have to understand how much money we used from the last allocation for various schemes in the social sectors. It is interesting to note that money allocated to social sectors is not being used properly. Last year, Rs. 33 thousand crore was allocated for MNREGA which could not be spent. Only 61 per cent money allocated to Sarw Siksha Abhiyan could be used. As per a CAG report, only 49 per cent of the total amount was transferred under the slum development program. Only 44 per cent of the total amount was transferred under the Urban Infrastructure and Governance programme. It is clearly the failure of the Government. Moreover, there is a lot of corruption in every Government scheme.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in his speech that he sees only three faces — youth, women and the poor. Some people describe it in a very interesting way. They are saying these three faces are Rahul Gandhi as youth, Sonia Gandhi as women and Aam Adami (which is also a slogan of the Congress party) as poor. In this Budget there is nothing for these three faces. The Finance Minister announced that new institutions will be set up to train youth and 15 lakhs youths will get training from these institutes. But he failed to say how these trained youths will get employment. For example, 15 lakh youths will hold a professional degree this year and will be in the market looking for a job. How will the Government give jobs to all these 15 lakhs youths? Out of 15 lakhs youths, 5 lakh youths have spent a lot of money on their education as they study through private institutes and have paid a huge sum of money as fees. If they will not get a job, what will they do? Politicians say India is a country of youth and we should be proud of it. What kind of pride this is?
It is sad but true that the Government has adopted such a neo-liberal policy which cannot generate employment. For women, Chidambaram announced a special bank. A women’s bank means these banks will be run by women and only women can use it. But the question is : can the problems of women be solved by opening banks ? How can their economic condition be better? Is there any policy regarding this? The answer is no.
As far as the poor are concerned, the Government has already decided to make the economy an ‘open’ one, which means there will be only talk and promises for the poor but no policies will be made for them. This Budget has nothing in it to end inflation. India is passing through a critical time. It is suffering from an economic crisis and a crisis of policy as well. The common man did not receive any benefits from liberalisation and privatisation. The poor are suffering, the middle class is suffering but the Government is unconcerned and is doing nothing in this regard. The neo- liberal policies of Manmohan Singh’s Government have benefited only the rich and the corporate sector. These neo-liberal policies generated corruption and damaged the entire system. There are no administrative reforms and because of this all schemes are becoming unsuccessful. That is why farmers and labourers are compelled to agitate and start movements. Besides this, thousand of movements are going on in this country on which there is no media attention. People are supporting movements against corruption. The credibility of the Government is at stake. Everyone is annoyed with the Government. There are 270 districts where Naxalites are in dominance. It was expected that the Government will do something about it in this Budget; there will be some solutions for problems. But nothing happened. The Government should understand that if people do not get relief then it will be difficult to control the anger of people. It may then be a big threat for our democracy.